|April 17, 2024

Fish Oil Benefits

By Sarah Kester
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 03/28/2024

Fish Oil Benefits

  • Omega-3 fatty acids help cells in the body function.
  • Since the body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, we must get them from our diet, such as fish, fish oil supplements and some plant-based sources.
  • Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It may help lower blood pressure and support sleep. It can also help with attention, cognition and mood.

Fish is a surefire way to up your nutrition game. Benefits may include supporting brain function, helping with inflammation and heart health support. Fatty fish, in particular (think salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna and sardines) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fatty acid. These omega 3 fatty acids help support cells throughout your body and help them function as they should.

But since not everyone likes fish, fish oil is a good alternative with many health benefits. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of fish oil and how to incorporate it into your diet.

two fish oil pills in a hand

What Is Fish Oil?

Since our body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids from scratch, they must come from our diet.[1]

For non-fish lovers, this is where fish oil comes in, as it helps prevent omega-3 deficiency. It is extracted from the tissue of fatty cold-water fish and is rich in two forms of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA)

The other type of omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in plant sources, such as walnuts, flaxseed and some leafy greens.

women stretching in an oragne excercise outfit

Fish Oil Benefits 

While some supplements leave consumers to sink or swim, there’s nothing fishy about fish oil. Research has linked this mighty supplement to a hefty amount of health benefits, such as:

Heart health

It’s no wonder the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish per week.[2] Fish oil may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease by contributing to these many functions of the heart:

  • Supporting a healthy blood pressure[3]
  • Promoting healthy triglycerides levels[4]
  • Promoting better cholesterol
  • Reducing the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias)

Fish oil may be especially helpful for people who have already had a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack. For example, a meta-analysis of 17 studies found that fish oil may help prevent recurring episodes and death from heart disease.[5]

Brain performance and function

Did you know that 50 to 60 percent of the brain’s weight is lipids (fat)? Since 35 percent of that number makes up omega-3s, it makes sense that fish oil’s brain benefits are mind-blowing.

Research has found that omega-3s increase blood flow in the brain. They also promote memory and learning and support cognitive functioning.[6]

Fish oil may also play a vital role in cognitive health, according to some studies. This includes autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.[7]

Support Sleep

If you’ve been tossing and turning at night, you’ll be happy to know that fish oil may help improve sleep. DHA may help provide sleep-boosting benefits. A trial of 84 participants found that those who regularly consumed DHA-rich oil had higher-quality sleep. They also took less time to fall asleep.[8]

hand holding fish oil supplement

How to Add Fish Oil to Your Diet

When it comes to adding omega-3s into your diet, don’t limit yourself to one food category. Omega-3s make up a large variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, plant-based sources and animal protein.

Try these options to add more fish oil or omega-3s into your diet:

  • Fish and other seafood: Fish is an obvious choice when it comes to omega-3s. After all, they put the “fish” in “fish oil.” But while fatty fish is the best option, you can also cast a wider net to include other types of seafood. For example, shellfish (oysters, mussels and scallops) typically contain all three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA and ALA.[9]
  • Eggs: The nutritional profile of eggs is even more impressive for its high concentration of omega-3s. Pastured eggs are the recommended option. A 50-gram pastured egg, for example, contains 330 mg of omega-3.[10] They have three times as much omega-3 fatty acids as caged hens.[11]
  • Grass-fed beef and lamb: Animals on land may not contain as many omega-3s as fish, but they still help keep people’s omega-3 levels afloat. For example, there are about 24.1 mg of DPA in 100 grams grass-fed beef. Whenever possible, opt for grass-fed beef over grain-fed beef. It has a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.[12]
  • Plant-based sourcesPlant forms of omega-3s include flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed and algae. Leafy green vegetables contain a small amount. Keep in mind, though, that these plant sources mainly contain ALA, which is rich in antioxidants.
  • Supplements: There are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to omega-3 supplements. A few options include fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil and algal oil. Bulletproof’s Omega Krill Complex is one of the best fish oil supplements around. Each lemon-flavored capsule (great for reducing those dreaded fishy burps!) contains a powerful blend of wild-caught omega-3 krill oil, Norwegian herring roe oil and fish oil.

How much fish oil should I take?

There is no conclusive recommendation on how much fish oil to take. However, research suggests healthy adults should aim for 250–500 mg of EPA and DHA combined each day. The amount will vary for other populations, such as the elderly, children and those with heart issues.

Fish oil is a great alternative for those who want to reap the benefits of omega-3s without eating lots of fish. The omega-3s in fish oil, DHA and EPA, have been linked to several health benefits. Fish and seafood, animal protein and plant-based foods are all sources of fatty acids to incorporate into your diet. If nothing else, give fish oil supplements a try. Other forms of omega-3 supplements include krill oil, cod liver oil and algal oil.

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