Fish oil is derived from the tissue of certain species of fish. Fish oil is considered a crucial part of a healthy diet because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids in turn have been shown by various studies to have a number of health benefits, including the regulation of cholesterol.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown by multiple studies, starting with a 1996 study by the American Heart Association, to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and abnormal heart rhythms. Omega 3 slows the buildup of plaques in the arteries, and lowers blood pressure by a small amount. Omega-3 also lowers blood triglyceride levels.
The consumption of fish oil is even beneficial after a first heart attack. There is strong evidence that increased intake of omega-3 helps to prevent the occurrence of a second heart attack as well as other coronary ailments associated with heart disease.
There have been claims that Omega-3 has a variety of other health benefits, including alleviating the effects of Alzheimer’s, improving cognitive brain function, including that of children and fetuses in uteri, alleviating the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, and a variety of other diseases. However more study is needed to substantiate these claims.
Medical researchers recommend consuming omega-3 through the consumption of fish, at least twice a week. However many people are not able to do this, either because of a lack of availability of appropriate fish, or because certain fish also contains dangerous concentrations of toxic substances such as Mercury or PCBs. Pregnant or nursing women in particular should avoid consuming fish that might contain these toxic substances.
In that case, the consumption of fish oil through dietary substances is considered an acceptable alternative. There is a debate about what the optimum dosage is, but somewhere between one and three grams of fish oil per day seems to be beneficial. Such dietary supplements are readily available in pharmacies, the drug area of super markets, or from various on-line vendors.
A possible side effect of consuming larger dosages of fish oil is an increase risk of bleeding. There is no evidence of any danger of bleeding for dosages lower than three grams a day.
A consuming fish oil, whether through food or through dietary supplements, should not be seen as a substitute for a sensible regime of diet and exercise. And, of course, before embarking on any dietary regime it is recommended that one should consult ones primary care physician.