The Flip Side of Fish Oil: Here’s The Silent Danger It Poses

Fish is an essential component in most diets world over. As a source of protein, fish provides sufficient nutrition in its white meat composition. Today, there are fish oil supplements available for those who want to access the nutritional benefits of consuming fish without having to. It’s akin to the practice of drinking vegetable juice instead of eating actual veggies.

Fish oil is important since it a source for omega-3 content. In an age where people are constantly seeking to improve their health by adopting lifestyles likely to boost their wellbeing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why the fish oil supplements industry is booming.

In the US, fish oil is the third most used supplement. There is an average of about 7.8% of Americans who use it on a daily basis

The History

For generations, the Germans and Britons have used cod liver oil to treat rickets, gout, rheumatism, and tuberculosis. The use of cod liver oil is traced back to the era of Vikings who used it to treat ailments like the common cold, backaches, wounds and skin diseases. Naturally, big companies have capitalized on this by making maximum returns on their investments.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are essential to us in many ways. They support nervous system function, cardiovascular operation, and boost our immune systems.

Omega 3 Fatty acids are composed of:

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Alpha-linoliec acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Of the three, EPA and DHA are considered the most crucial elements of omega 3 fatty acids. In its original state, ALA doesn’t do much to the functioning of body elements, it needs to be converted to either EPA or DHA in order to be of essence to the system.

It is also important to note that EPA and DHA are sourced from marine animals whilst ALA is obtained from plant sources like walnuts, hemp, flax, and chia. Thus, when we consume plants rich in ALA, we’re simply taking a gamble by hoping that sufficient amounts are converted to EPA and DHA. On the other hand, by eating fish and fish oil supplements, we obtain EPA and DHA straight from the source.

The Balance

The key advantage of eating fish oil is the fact that it contains low amounts of heavy metals and environmental pollutants.

We all know how the adage goes; too much of everything is poisonous. As a result, we’re left with a primary question; just how much of fish oil is sufficient?

We know that DHA is important to our lives right from the onset since on average, newborn babies get about 300 mg of DHA daily from their mother’s breast milk. The recommended quantity of fish oil in adults should be no more than 3g/day over the long term. In case we find ourselves consuming greater quantities of fish oil, we would advise taking anti-oxidant rich foods. These are foods like blueberries, leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts and olive oil. The probable harm that fish oil may pose to us is oxidation. Thus, we recommend checking the expiration date on bottles before making a purchase of the fish oils.

The other tip would probably be to purchase smaller bottles of fish oil. Doing so ensures that the fish oil quantities do not last long after opening. This ensures that we remain protected from the dangers of oxidation. Should occasions arise that it is impossible to consume fish oil within the stipulated time of 40 days, we recommend refrigeration for no more than 120 days.

The Dangers of Fish Oil

Researchers have found that prolonged intake of fish oil or sunflower oil tends to cause changes in the liver that expose it to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This is a much more serious version of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

NASH leads to the buildup of fat in the liver, cell damage, and inflammation. Due to the intense liver damage that occurs thanks to NASH, we are more prone to the threats of liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.

NASH manifests without being caused by alcohol consumption. The disease leaves us prone to the hazards of being overweight, high blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. Thus, it is important to ensure we keep our diet in check. On the other hand, lifetime consumption of olive oil has been found to be a healthier option.


Fatty fish like sardines and salmon are a healthier alternative when compared to fish oil

From the aforementioned analysis, we have determined that continued use of fish oil may cause harm to the liver. This is due to unknown adulterants. As a result, we would recommend making sure to check with a physician before starting to consume fish oil. Fatty fish contains many nutrients like lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of fish. The recommended quantity should be at least 3.5 ounces of fish weekly.

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