Something Fishy

Fish oil may not sound too appetizing, but it’s a health supplement that has been getting a lot of attention from the medical
community. Should you be taking it? Just how beneficial is it?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, we must get our weekly dose of omega-3 fatty acids from the foods we eat, because we don’t produce it on our own. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only necessary for proper body functioning, it is also believed to help lower blood pressure, relieve swollen joints from arthritis and prevent heart disease.

“The best way to consume omega-3 fatty acids is through foods,” says Margaret Day, medical director at Keene Family Medicine Clinic in Columbia.

Day says fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include canola oil, flaxseed and walnuts.

But good quality fish isn’t always easy to put on your dinner table every week, and the other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids aren’t as rich in the nutrient. That is where fish oil supplements come in.

According to Day, supplements are generally only necessary for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. Beauty gurus, however, are becoming huge fans of fish oil supplements.

The medical information website Web MD claims that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial not only for your heart, but for healthy skin as well. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology reported studies on fish oil intake improving skin texture and increasing hair volume for thinning hair. The studies explained that omega-3 fatty acids help the body lubricate the skin for better skin complexion and help nourish hair follicles for stronger and shinier hair.

Some reports champion fish oil supplements to boost metabolism, but there is no significant scientific evidence to prove this benefit yet. However, omega-3 fatty acids do increase insulin sensitivity and help with muscle building, which could contribute to an improved fat metabolism.

If you feel that you are not getting your dose of omega-3 fatty acids in your regular diet, adding fatty fish to your weekly menu or taking fish oil supplements may be worth a try. It’s important to have enough, but keep in mind that too much of anything can be bad. Consult with your physician, and follow directions for the recommended intake.