Fish oil may ease symptoms of depression and support brain health
Mental Health Benefits of Fish Oil, Certain mental health issues may be treated and prevented with the aid of fish oil. This is due to the omega-3 fats included in fish oil. Which may have an impact on the health of the brain and how well some neurotransmitters work.
If you don’t like eating fish but want to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. You might want to think about taking a fish oil supplement. Over-the-counter (OTC) fish oil pills are among the most widely utilized dietary supplements, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (glucosamine and chondroitin, often used for joint pain, are the others).
The two forms of omega-3s found in fish, EPA and DHA, are present in fish oil. That is available over the counter. Fish oil supplements sold over the counter differ from those that are prescribed for persons with extremely high triglycerides, a form of fat linked to an elevated risk of heart disease.
The potential advantages of fish oil for mental health are covered in this article. It also discusses additional health advantages, potential negative effects, dosage, and what to look for in fish oil supplements.
Mental Health Benefits
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for the health of the brain. They support the function of brain cells and aid in cell communication. They are crucial for the brain’s early development, but they also affect brain health later in life. Omega-3 deficiency in older persons results in more pronounced indications of brain aging, including reduced brain size.
According to research, fish oil may be effective in alleviating depression. According to studies, either a lack of omega-3 fatty acids or an unbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may contribute to an increase in depression rates. Furthermore, the inclusion of fish oil in antidepressant medication is supported by a modest number of well-conducted trials.
Premenstrual syndrome can cause both mental and physical symptoms, like mood swings. According to a review of studies, omega-3 fatty acids are an efficient way to lessen the severity of PMS symptoms, including both somatic (physical) and psychological ones.
Other Mental Health Conditions
Fish oil has also been investigated for the treatment of a few additional mental health issues, though more research is required to determine its efficacy:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)6
- Bipolar disorder
While omega-3 supplementation may be good for treating moderate cognitive impairment, it does not appear to be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, according to research. Additionally, fish oil intake did not seem to enhance adult healthy subjects’ cognitive abilities.
Other Health Benefits
Fish oil may be advantageous for other illnesses in addition to its potential advantages for mental health, according to studies.
1. Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases
By lowering morning stiffness, joint sensitivity, the number of swollen joints, and controlling the immunological response, fish oil has been shown to be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. Since persons with RA are more likely to experience a heart attack, fish oil can also help manage cardiovascular risk factors, which is crucial.
Fish oil can also be used to treat Raynaud’s syndrome, lupus, psoriasis, and knee osteoarthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
2. Heart Health
Fish oil helps lessen some of the risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, including excessive triglycerides, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Even if it cannot prevent either of these disorders (hardening of the arteries).
Your doctor might recommend a fish oil like Lovaza if you take fish oil because your triglycerides are elevated (omega-3 ethyl esters). In comparison to most over-the-counter fish oil capsules, prescription fish oil capsules have a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and are made from highly purified fish oil.
Both the prevention and treatment of depression may benefit from fish oil. Fish oil may also be advantageous for those with other medical disorders, such as bipolar illness or rheumatoid arthritis.
Possible Side Effects
When users take the supplement in high doses, fish oil side effects are most frequently experienced (more than 5 grams per day). As a result, it’s crucial to speak with a healthcare professional before taking a fish oil supplement because the more you consume, the more likely you are to encounter negative effects.
The most typical side effects are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Belching a fish-like aftertaste (“fish burps”)
If you already use an anticoagulant (blood thinner) like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix, eating high dosages of omega-3 fats can decrease blood coagulation and raise your risk of bleeding or bruising (clopidogrel). Additionally, it may weaken the body’s defenses against infection.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine states. That it is not yet known whether taking fish oil is safe for those who have seafood allergies.
Although these are more likely to happen in large doses, fish oil can have some negative effects. The most frequent adverse effect is probably upset stomach and bad-tasting burps. Ask what you can do to help minimize these potential adverse effects. If your doctor has prescribed fish oil for its advantages to mental health.
Dosage and Preparation
For optimal health, one must consume enough of the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil. These fatty acids are crucial for optimal brain growth and function throughout life. In addition to alleviating the symptoms of several mental health problems. Omega-3 deficiency has been related to a higher risk of psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, depression, and ADHD. 14
It’s essential to speak with your doctor before taking these supplements because the amount of fish oil you require will vary depending on your age, sex, and particular health condition. Instead of breaking up and sprinkling fish oil into food or beverages, fish oil should be consumed in whole capsules with meals and drinks.
To assist discover the ideal dose for the prevention and treatment of various mental health disorders, more research is required. The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fish, can reduce the incidence of depression, according to one review.
The Food and Drug Administration advises limiting the daily intake of EPA and DHA from dietary supplements to 5 grams (5,000mg). Higher doses are frequently used to reduce triglycerides, but you should only use them under a doctor’s supervision.
Omega-3 intake from food sources has no set upper limit (such as fish). However, research indicates that most adults can safely consume up to 10 grams (or 10,000 milligrams) of EPA and DHA.
What to Look For
It’s crucial to see your doctor before taking fish oil supplements, even though they are widely available at pharmacies and health food stores. The simplest way to determine whether a fish oil supplement is reliable is to read the label.
Avoid any products that make health claims like “reducing the risk of heart disease” or “curing depression.” More research is required to establish the dosage, applications, and formulations that may be useful for those objectives, even though evidence indicates that fish oil offers advantages for both heart and mental health.
It is prohibited to “market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific ailment or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease,” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Pay particular attention to other substances including flavorings, binders, and fillers. In order to prove purity levels, the fish oil supplement should also bear a seal of approval from a third-party testing agency.
U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International are a few of these organizations. This certificate of approval ensures that the product does not contain harmful levels of pollutants. And that it includes the components specified on the label. Even though it does not guarantee that the fish oil is safe or that it will work.
The taste and smell of high-quality fish oil can also be used as indicators. Fishy should not be a flavor or aroma of fish oil. If it occurs, it means that the fish oil is beginning to deteriorate and get rancid. The presence of artificial tastes in the product may also be indicated by a strong aroma.
Fish, particularly wild fish that consume a lot of omega-3-rich algae, is the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Your best options are smaller cold-water fish like herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Toxins like mercury and dioxins may build up in the tissues of larger fish and fish raised on farms.
However, for the majority of individuals right now, the advantages of eating fish outweigh the disadvantages. Adults should eat eight ounces of fish per week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines.
Other dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts)
- Plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil)
- Fortified foods (eggs, milk, cereals, and orange juice)
Supplements are a choice if you want to take fish oil for your mental health. But you can also receive the necessary quantities through dietary sources. The best sources of dietary omega-3 fatty acids are fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and fortified foods like cereal, eggs, and orange juice.
A Word From Verywell
Fish oil can protect and enhance mental health, among other health advantages. Evidence suggests that taking fish oil may safeguard brain function and perhaps help treat mental health issues like depression since the omega-3s in fish oil are essential for maintaining good brain health.
This does not imply that ingesting fish oil may replace medical treatment or therapy. Speak with a healthcare professional if you are exhibiting signs of a mental health disorder. They can also diagnose your illness and make additional recommendations. Such as if taking fish oil in addition to other therapies might be beneficial.