Should You Take Fish Oil?

It's time to learn what's good and bad about fish oil and whether you should take it.


By Tesa Johns


Fish oil is an oil derived from the tissues of oily fish that contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Precursors of certain eicosanoids are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and have other health benefits. The US National Institutes of Health lists three conditions for which fish oil and other omega-3 sources are most highly recommended: hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride level), preventing secondary cardiovascular disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure). It then lists 27 other conditions for which there is less evidence. A lot of the benefit of fish oil seems to come from the omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. Interestingly, the body does not produce its own omega-3 fatty acids. Nor can the body make omega-3 fatty acids from omega-6 fatty acids, which are common in the Western diet.

The Good

According to a recent study at Harvard University – omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is officially one of the top 10 causes of death in America.

Fish oil benefits are used in the treatment of many health issues including: heart disease, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, alzheimer’s disease, eczema, diabetes, cancer, weakened immunity, autoimmune disease and macular degeneration.

Also, it’s been proven to aid the body in weight loss, fertility, healthy pregnancy, healthy skin and increased energy.

Cardiovascular research conducted by an institute in Maastricht in Netherlands, states “Epidemiological studies showed that replacing fat by carbohydrate may even be worse and that various polyunsaturated fatty acids (FA) have beneficial rather than detrimental effects on CVD outcome.” This includes, fish-oil fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent and reverse a plethora of cardiovascular diseases.

The effects of fish oil appear to be the greatest in people who have very high triglyceride levels. Research suggests that fish oil from supplements and food sources can reduce triglyceride levels.

The Bad

Fish oil can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. High doses of fish oil might also reduce the immune system's activity, reducing the body's ability to fight infection. Some people who are allergic to seafood such as fish might also be allergic to fish oil supplements. There is no reliable information showing how likely people with seafood allergy are to have an allergic reaction to fish oil.

Do I Need It?

Whether you have heart disease, depression, diabetes, joint or skin problems, or just want to stay healthy, somebody has probably told you to take a fish oil supplement. If you are generally healthy, the best strategy is to consume about 12–16 ounces of cold-water, fatty fish or shellfish each week.

Most studies show an inverse relationship between fish consumption and heart disease and mortality, so while fish oil may not protect you, eating fish does seem to. Perhaps this is because fish and shellfish contain many other beneficial nutrients that fish oil does not, including selenium, zinc, iron, and highly absorbable protein.

Many people focus on the dosage of fish oil, like 1000 mg or 1200 mg, but it is really the omega-3s that matter. The two types of omega-3 fatty acids to focus on are EPA and DHA. These omega-3s are naturally found in oily fish like salmon, halibut, sardines and anchovies, and are the very reason why fish oil supplements have received such high praise. However, if your diet lacks fish or shellfish, then you should supplement with fish oil. Always remember that it’s the omega-3s that count. When making your purchase, be sure to determine the amount of omega-3s per serving. Many doctors often recommend 1000 to 1200 mg of fish oil because that amount of fish oil contains the total amount of omega-3s the doctor wants you to consume.

Tesa is new to blogging, but hopes to make a big impact with her vast knowledge of athletics and experience. Tesa recently earned her bachelor's degree at the Pennsylvania State University. While majoring in Athletic Training and minoring in psychology, she worked with various division one collegiate sports teams. Tesa is continuing her education by pursuing her Master's of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in sports pedagogy at The Louisiana State University. Tesa is a board certified Athletic Trainer and a Performance Enhancement Specialist. Outside of the training room, Tesa enjoys going on runs and working out for leisure.

Main Photo Credit: R_Szatkowski/; Second Photo Credit: Syda Productions/; Third Photo Credit: alexpro9500/

Thu Nov 17 00:05:59 UTC 2016

Ok so what's bad?????????

Wed Jan 04 01:37:25 UTC 2017

You absolutely need Omega 3.

Thu Jan 12 20:06:17 UTC 2017

I eat a lot of fish but don't get enuf vitamin d3. Almost bought fish oil supplements when I discovered all the ones I found contain tilapia-to which I'm very allergic. (regular but d3 is sourced in lanolin, another allergen for me!) just public service announcement in case anyone has either/both allergies/sensitivities!

Thu Jan 12 20:07:08 UTC 2017

Should read"regular vitamin D3 is...)