Why is fish oil good for us?
The best way to answer this question is to say it is anti-inflammatory.
What does anti-inflammatory mean? Tissues that are damaged are inflamed, and inflammation causes damage to tissues, it is a vicious cycle that can leave one feeling “injured,” as almost all cases of injury and pain are due to inflamed tissues causing pressure on nerves, which in turn sends pain responses to the brain.
So what does fish oil do? It helps balance our diet (specifically Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids) to a level that our bodies digestive and circulatory systems were designed.
There are 3 main Omega-3 Fatty acids that you will see on the back of fish oil bottles, and really you are looking at 2 of them…and I’ll explain why.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
Other Fatty Acids
Many studies have shown benefits of between 2500 to 5000 mg of EPA and DHA every day (lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain). The important part here is your bottle might say “1000 mg of fish oil.” But be careful! What is the fish oil made out of? If it isn’t EPA and DHA, you aren’t getting the benefits (for reasons outlined below). Also, be sure to check how many pills make up their 1000 mg. You might find yourself taking 30 pills a day to get your EPA and DHA! If that’s the case, it might be worth looking into a different brand.
ALA (alpha linolenic acid) is one of the “other” Omega 3 fatty acids, and can be found in nuts (walnuts) and seeds (chia). These can even be touted to be in high quantities, but be careful, your body has to change ALA into DHA for your body to use it, and generally you will lose 90% of the omega 3 fatty acid in the conversion. So if you eat 1000 mg of ALA in a day, you really are only getting around 100 mg of DHA (again, it is important to look on the bottle as to what it is you are buying).
If you are an athlete, or have any pain (inflammation) from training, you can take upwards of 7000 mg of fish oil and be well within what is normal for athletes.
Fish oil will not necessarily treat any injuries, but it can help. Taking fish oil will reduce inflammation and will help get your body to an optimal level for performance.
So, keep that in mind when you look on the back of your fish oil bottle, get the most bang for your buck!