Fish oil is a nutrient-packed oil derived from the fatty layers of cold-water fish. It is rich in the long chain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for human health. As the body cannot make its own omega-3 fatty acids, we must rely on our diet or supplements to fulfill our daily requirements.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids necessary for human health. Excellent sources of fish oil are found in mackerel, tuna, salmon, mullet, sardines and trout, which provide around 1 gram of essential omega-3 fatty acids for every 100 grams of fish.
The long chain of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil has been found to be more efficiently converted by our bodies than the shorter chain varieties. Research has shown that people who include large amounts of cold-water fish in their diet have a lower incidence of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Fish has earned a reputation as a brain food because of its link with treating depression, psychosis, Alzheimer’s and other psychological disorders. Other benefits of fish oil include:
- Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure – fish oil can reduce levels of triglycerides by 20 to 50 per cent.
- Preventing heart disease and stroke.
- Relieving the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Lowering the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
- Reducing the severity of period pain.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – some research has linked taking fish oil with improved thinking skills and behaviour in 8 to 12-year-old children with ADHD.
How to take fish oil
The National Health and Medical Research Council suggests a dietary target of 430 mg of omega-3 fatty acids a day for women and 610 mg a day for men. To achieve this, you would need to eat at least two meals with oily fish a week and research has shown that more than 75 per cent of us are failing to consume this amount.
Supplements are an important inclusion in our daily regime to help address these low rates. Available as either capsules or liquids, there are many different supplement brands that vary in the amount of omega-3 fats they contain. Australia’s Omega-3 Centre recommends Australian adults take about 500 mg of essential fatty acids in the form of DHAs and EPAs per day.
Fish oil is an essential inclusion in our diet due to its role in the maintenance and prevention of many health-related conditions. For many of us, consuming the recommended daily intake of omega-3 is challenging and supplements are a beneficial way of ensuring an adequate daily intake.