Why Do I Need Fish Oil?

Fish oil is one of the most well known foundational supplements on the market today.  You can find them at just about every convenience store and vitamin/supplement shop in America.  

The common misconception is that fish oils are just something people over the age of 50 take to keep their blood pressure down and their joints from aching.  But that is just simply not the case.  Whether you are 1 year old or 101 years old, fatty acids are key to proper body function and development.

To really understand fish oil supplements, we first need to take a look at what makes up a fish oil and details behind essential and nonessential fatty acids.


What’s the difference between essential and nonessential fatty acids?


Let’s start from the drawing board. Fish oils contain fatty acids of which there are two different types – essential and nonessential.

Nonessential fatty acids can be synthesized (or made) by the body, derived from essential amino acids and are required for normal health and growth.  These include arachidic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid.  Nonessential fatty acids are either saturated fat (bad fat that leads to heart disease) or unsaturated fat (good fat that increases HDL levels).  

Essential fatty acids are the ones that our body cannot produce, so we must obtain them through our diet or supplementation. 

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the most common omega-3  fatty acid in most Western diets found in vegetable oils, nuts, leafy vegetables and some animal fat.  ALA is important when considering reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The two primary omega 3 fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA has a tremendous impact on triglycerides (fats in the blood), blood pressure and inflammation.  DHA is vital for brain development and can increase the speed and quality of communication between cells which is important at every stage of your life.

There are more than 40,000 published studies on EPA and DHA, including more than 4,000 human clinical trials. These two fatty acids are crucial from developing a fetus’s brain, to keeping our cardiovascular health strong, to resisting brain deterioration as we get older. 



How Do I Know If I Need to Add Fish Oil?


As many as 95% of Americans do not get enough DHA and EPA through whole foodsThe FDA recommends eating at least 8-12 ounces of fish per week which is about 2-3 times for most Americans.  If we are being honest, about 10% of adults eat enough fish (according to the Department of Agriculture).

The reason isn’t because we do not care about our health. Even for the fitness goers out there, it is common to not get enough omega-3 fatty acids due to living in a society and environment where the foods we eat are not rich in these essential fatty acids. The reason is our lifestyle. 

Countries that border the Mediterranean for example have a much different lifestyle. Their traditional diet is filled with fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.  This is one of the main reasons why people who eat a Mediterranean style diet have a significantly lower chance of cardiovascular disease, cognitive disease and cancer and ultimately a lower mortality rate.

So what is the real issue when we do not get enough fatty acids (or fish oil) in our daily diets?


Main problems with a lack of fatty acids/fish oil.


Inflammation. Experiencing regular or consistent aches and pains, especially at the end of your range of motion could be the result of too much inflammation.  Joint and muscle pain limits the ability to function at your full potential and can lead to long-term issues and imbalances.

Researchers found the fish oil supplementation increased the level of the anti-inflammatory molecules for up to 24 hours.  When our body is inflamed, we experience aches and pains. You can imagine, there is inflammation created while powerlifting 600lbs, doing an intense crossfit workout, or climbing up flights of stairs at work. Regardless of the activity, when inflammation is created, we want to decrease that inflammation sooner rather than later.

Poor Cognitive Health.  If you have experienced a decline in mental focus, attention or memory, this is a sign that your mental health performance isn’t functioning at its potential. DHA makes up over 90% of the essential fatty acids in our brain and over 25% of its total fat content. That means, we literally need it to function. So that also means, without it, it cannot function properly! 

As we get older, we also experience a natural decline in the fat content in our brain. DHA has a strong correlation to a low risk of Alzhiemers and other cognitive diseases in older adults. So as we get older, it is important to always supply our brain with the essential fatty acids it needs to stay healthy.

Poor Heart Health.  There are many reasons why you may suffer from cardiovascular problems. However, there is a strong correlation between poor heart health and a diet low in omega 3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, such as EPA found in fish oil, are the good fats our body needs. These good fats actually have the capability to decrease the bad fats within our body. 

The reason why we have arterial plaque buildup is because we have too much of the bad cholesterol in our arteries (LDL). This comes from the saturated fats that we eat. 

Good news though! EPA is a high density lipoprotein (HDL), which can actually lower the LDL’s in our body. This means it can help lower the amount of cholesterol and potential for plaque build up leading to high blood pressure and some cardiovascular diseases. 

As omega-3 fatty acids are deemed important, eating a diet rich in these fatty acids in addition to supplementation is recommended in order to help U.S. adults meet recommendations.




How Can I Get More Fish Oil in My Diet?


It is crucial that we eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids in order to obtain the essential fatty acids you need to develop and function properly. These come mainly from fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, Markel, and sardines. The American Heart Association recommends that you get at least two servings of fatty fish per week.  

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can get some of the essential fatty acids you need through seeds such as chia seeds, flax seed and hemp seed. 

Like I mentioned before, 95% of Americans do not get enough omega-3’s through their diet alone. Therefore, supplementing with fish oil is a great way to ensure that you are getting enough to reap the benefits and avoid health issues. 



How Do I Know Which Fish Oil to Take?


The biggest thing to look for is where the supplement is getting its fish oil from. A lot of companies will try to get away with using sunflower oil, or another seed oil, which is not the same. 

The best would be to find a fish oil that is cold water, wild caught salmon or makrill.  Taking 2,000-3,000 mg of EPA/DHA daily will cover most adult omega-3 needs but of course factors like diet, exercise, age, weight and health all are to be considered.

Supplementing with a high quality fish oil, and adding more fatty fish into your diet will change your health drastically!


How can I get help?


If you are struggling with incorporating fish into your diet, have questions or need help finding the right fish oil for you, please reach out to any of our Modern Warrior experts at Modern Warrior Contact.  

If you found this blog helpful, make sure to follow us on Instagram @modernwarriorlife  for more tips and tricks!