About fish oil
Fish oil describes oil from the body of fatty fish, a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are a group of essential, polyunsaturated fatty acids that are primarily found in oily fish like herring, salmon, and mackerel. The two most important omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are important for a range of healthy benefits, including supporting heart health, brain health and vision.
Fish do not produce omega-3 fatty acids, but accumulate them by eating plankton, which in turn have higher omega-3 fatty acid levels the colder the sea water.
Why do we need to supplement?
Omega-3 is described scientifically as ‘essential’, meaning the human body is unable to produce them. We simply must obtain omega-3 fatty acids from the food we eat or the supplements we take.
Some of the healthiest diets in the world (including Japanese and Mediterranean) feature regular consumption of oily fish. Scientists first became aware of the link in the 1970s, when Danish clinicians discovered that Eskimos had exceptionally low rates of heart disease and arthritis, despite consuming a diet high in fats 1. It was then discovered that particular essential fatty acids (which we commonly refer to as omega-3) found within oily fish were to thank for these benefits.
Omega-3 levels are very low in land animals; oily fish (including salmon and mackerel) are good sources. In times when consuming these regularly becomes a challenge (due to cost or dislike of seafood), supplements serve as an ideal, practical solution.
How does it work in the body?
Fish oil is one of the best-researched nutritional supplements available with thousands of strong scientific studies supporting fish oils safety and benefits. EPA and DHA are beneficial in a wide range of systems around the body.
EPA & DHA are preferred by the body as they can be immediately used, whereas omega-3 from other sources (such as nuts and seeds) must be converted several times within the body, which is an ineffective process.
Fish oil works primarily through eicosanoids - fat-based signalling molecules which dictate how much inflammation the body will produce in response to physical stress, such as oxidation or inflammation. Fish oils encourage an anti-inflammatory response which in turn, is associated with the reduction in risk of various diseases/ ailments.
Most omega-6 fatty acids (found in poultry, eggs, cereals and vegetable oils) are inflammatory by nature when consumed without adequate omega-3 to counter-balance them. Many experts agree that we should be at least balancing the amount of omega-6 we consume with omega-3 (a 1:1 ratio) to help reduce inflammation.
Benefits in Research
Omega-3 has shown the potential to inhibit cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), a protein the body produces and is associated with LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad cholesterol’), while suppressing it is associated with HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil can help to maintain a healthy heart and blood vessels, healthy blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels 2,3.
Immunity and arthritis
Omega 3 fatty acids are also important in the normal functioning of the immune system, suppressing the production of inflammatory compounds in the body 4. This anti-inflammatory effect has shown benefits in research with sufferers of certain joint conditions.
A 2010 meta-analysis of studies concluded that fish oil significantly reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including joint stiffness and pain. The analysis also concluded that due to fish oil, the need for medication (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) was decreased 5.
250mg per day of DHA (as found in fish oil) contributes to the maintenance of a normal brain function. A wide array of clinical evidence supports use of fish oil supplements in a range of mental wellbeing conditions.
A high proportion of brain tissue is made up of DHA and EPA, which are important both in forming the structure of brain cells and helping them communicate with each other. Low levels of DHA and EPA may affect concentration and mood in adults, and have been linked to learning difficulties and behavioural problems in growing children 6.
A meta-analysis from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that fish oil demonstrates a ‘significant antidepressant effect’ on a range of depression diagnoses including post-natal depression and major depressive disorder 7. In additional research, supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids has also been shown to reduce impaired cognitive function (such as memory issues) associated with ageing 8.
Attention issues in Children
Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to reduce symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when compared to placebos. Studies also report that fish oil supplements were shown to be safe and tolerable in children 9.
Bio-Fish Oil & BIOmega-3 Kids
High quality fish oil should be derived only from deep ocean fish (not farmed fish), and carefully screened to ensure that it is free from possible pollutants such as heavy metals. Oil extracted from the body of the fish (rather than the liver) is free of vitamin A which would otherwise be toxic at high levels.
For many health benefits associated with fish oil supplementation, it’s suggested that EPA should make up at least 60% of the supplements content, with the remainder as DHA.
Bio-Fish Oil from Pharma Nord contains pure fish oil with the optimal balance of omega-3 fatty acids and is made to pharmaceutical standards. It also comes with a pleasant natural lemon flavour to avoid that fishy aftertaste common to many fish oil supplements.
1. Bang H, Dyerberg J, Nielsen A. PLASMA LIPID AND LIPOPROTEIN PATTERN IN GREENLANDIC WEST-COAST ESKIMOS. The Lancet. 1971;297(7710):1143-1146.
2. Simão A, Lozovoy M, Bahls L, Morimoto H, Simão T, Matsuo T et al. Blood pressure decrease with ingestion of a soya product (kinako) or fish oil in women with the metabolic syndrome: role of adiponectin and nitric oxide. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012;108(8):1435-1442.
3. Ramel A, Martinez J, Kiely M, Bandarra N, Thorsdottir I. Moderate consumption of fatty fish reduces diastolic blood pressure in overweight and obese European young adults during energy restriction. Nutrition. 2010;26(2):168-174.
4. Maroon J, Bost J. ω-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology. 2006;65(4):326-331.
5. James M, Proudman S, Cleland L. Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis: past, present and future. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2010;69(3):316-323.
6. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA
7. Martins J. EPA but Not DHA Appears To Be Responsible for the Efficacy of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation in Depression: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2009;28(5):525-542.
8. Schaefer E, Bongard V, Beiser A, Lamon-Fava S, Robins S, Au R et al. Plasma Phosphatidylcholine Docosahexaenoic Acid Content and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer Disease. Archives of Neurology. 2006;63(11):1545.9. Bélanger S, Vanasse M, Spahis S, Sylvestre M, Lippé S, l'Heureux F et al. Omega-3 fatty acid treatment of children with