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Fish oil comes from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oil is consumed because of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains and the reduction of inflammation it provides throughout the body. The omega-3 fatty acids that actually come from fish are not produced by fish, but instead are accumulated over time from other prey fish they consume like herring and sardines or by consuming microalgae and fish that have consumed microalgae. And while fatty fish like mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, and trout contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, they accumulate a lot of mercury, dixoin, PCBs, and other toxic substances that can be harmful to humans. (4)
Due to the risk factors of getting omega-3 fatty acids from fish, many individuals have started to derive their dietary allowance of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements.
Fish oil can be safely and easily obtained through supplements, and fish like mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, and trout.
Fish oil can help regulate cholesterol in the body because of the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids it contains. In addition, benefits of fish oil include attributes of being an anti-inflammatory and are good for the body’s composition.
A study was conducted in England with prisoners that consumed seafood containing essential omega-3 fatty acids. The prison had a drastic drop in the number of assault rates. A Finnish study under the same conditions found that those prisoners that had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were convicted of more nonviolent offense, as opposed to prisoners that had low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and were convicted of more serious offense. These studies have led some to conclude that fish oil and these kinds of fatty acids are to somewhat responsible for the neuronal growth of the frontal cortex of the brain. This is the part of the brain that scientists believe may have a major influence on personal behavior. (1)
Other studies have shown that fish oil can affect the risk of depression or suicide. One in particular took blood samples from 100 suicide-attempt patients and found that the control group had much higher levels of eicosapentaenoic acid than those that attempted suicide. (3)
Recommended intake amounts of DHA and EPA have not yet been established by the Food and Drug Administration. The American Heart Association recommends two services of fish per week to support healthy cardiovascular health. A weekly serving of two four-ounce salmons contain about three total grams of EPA/DHA. (2)
Most people will not experience any side effects while taking fish oil supplements. However, some side effects may occur. These side effects are:
- Fishy odor on the breath (or fish burps)
- Upset stomach
- Greasy stools.
References:1. STEPHEN MIHM. "Does Eating Salmon Lower the Murder Rate?", NYTimes, April 16, 2006.2. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. American Heart Association.3. Huan M, Hamazaki K, Sun Y, Itomura M, Liu H, Kang W, Watanabe S, Terasawa K, Hamazaki T. (2004). "Suicide attempt and n-3 fatty acid levels in red blood cells: a case control study in China.". Biological psychiatry 56 (7): 490-6. PMID 1540784.â€Š4. EPA (2007-01-31). Fish Consumption Advisories.