Research is proving that one of the best supplements for getting needed dietary fat is fish oil. Just what are fish oil benefits and why should you consider eating more fish, or going even further, to a fish oil supplement?

In short, it’s mainly about the Omega-3 fatty acids fish, and fish based products provide. The 2 primary ones are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).These have been shown to promote heart health, and since humans need some fat in their diets (contrary to the 80’s no fat diet fads) this is an excellent place to get it.

What has actually been shown through proper, peer reviewed research, and are there even more benefits than heart health to fish and their oils? Can putting this stuff in your diet help you actually burn fat and lose weight? If so, how much do you need, and how often should you eat or take it?

First of all, it is well documented that fish oil is beneficial to your heart. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat fatty fish, such as salmon at least twice a week. If you already have coronary artery disease, they up that recommendation to once per day. For these patients they also indicate you should speak to your doctor about EPA+DHA capsule supplementation.

Research on fish oil supplementation is very positive. According to a 2002 study published in the journal Circulation, they found important benefits to these substances, as follows:
“important new findings, including evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), have been reported about the beneficial effects of omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acids on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with preexisting CVD as well as in healthy individuals.2 New information about how omega-3 fatty acids affect cardiac function (including antiarrhythmic effects), hemodynamics (cardiac mechanics), and arterial endothelial function have helped clarify potential mechanisms of action.” In layman’s terms, that means the stuff is good for you.

A 2006-7 study by Peter R. C. Howe at the University of South Australia in Adelaide was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – May, 2007 edition. It showed that the combination of fish oil supplementation and exercise was a potent combination to lose body fat, and improve cardio vascular health. The combination of fish oil supplementation and exercise was far more effective than either one alone for reducing body fat.

Research subjects were divided into 4 groups:
A)    6 grams of fish oil per day
B)    took fish oil supplements every day, and walked for 45 minutes three days per week
C)    Took pills containing sunflower oil in equivalent amounts to the fish oil.
D)    combined sunflower oil and walking

The results were very promising for the fish oil and walking group. In the 12 week study, the group that engaged in exercise and fish oil supplementation lost 4.4 kilos more fat than the control group. One note here, however; the dietary intake of the participants was self reported, not lab administered, so one can not be sure if it is completely accurate.

Researcher Howe commented on the study results:
“Increasing intake of (omega-3 fatty acids) could be a useful adjunct to exercise programs aimed at improving body composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk”

However, another study was completed in France and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This 2007 study found that not only did supplementation deliver increased cardio vascular health, but researchers found that “A moderate dose of omega-3 PUFAs for two months reduced adiposity and atherogenic markers without deterioration of insulin sensitivity in subjects with type-2 diabetes,”.  Adiposity is the term for body fat used by those with many letters after their names, and years of schooling.

That is only the beginning in terms of science discovering fish oil benefits, but lower body fat levels, faster fat loss, improved cardio vascular health, and lower triglycerides seem like a good reason to make friends with your local fish vendor. You might even start popping fish oil pills too.