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Diet & Nutrition, Health

What Is Fish Oil Good For? (Your Ultimate Fish Oil Guide)

Written by Leon Ho
Founder & CEO of Lifehack
Rajeev Kurapati MD, MBA practices Hospital Medicine and also serves as the Medical Director of Integrative Oncology at a large healthcare organization in Kentucky.

Fact Checked. Our dedicated editorial team tirelessly evaluates every article we publish to ensure the information is factual, up-to-date and free of bias.

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At some point, you’ve probably come across information saying that fish oil is high in omega-3 and is a valuable supplement to take on a regular basis.

However, you may well have been skeptical of this information, as there are so many supplements being heavily marketed today, that it’s hard to know which ones are truly beneficial and which ones are simply a waste of money.

Plus, when it comes to fish oil, you may have heard that it can be a potential source of dangerous levels of the heavy metal mercury due to the industrial poisoning of our air and water over the last few decades.

It’s right to be skeptical about claims from supplement producers, but it’s also wise to know how to distinguish between good, healthy supplements from bad, unhealthy ones.

Personally, having to tackle multiple demands at work (as the CEO and founder of LifeHack) and in my family life (I have a wife and two kids), I started to notice that in the last few years that I was beginning to feel tired easily. When I was younger, I found it relatively easy to cope with these demands; but since hitting 40 years of age a short while ago, I noticed myself tiring quicker than I used to do before. I also noticed that I lacked the ‘get up and go’ that I used to have.

This noticeable decline in my energy levels led me to spend months researching and trying out different methods and supplements to help me regain my previous energy and productivity levels. One method I found that has conclusively worked has been to add fish oil to my daily diet. Quite frankly, it’s made a significant and positive difference to my health and well-being. I can now achieve the things I want to achieve at work, while still having ample energy to enjoy life with my family and friends.


I’ll give you all the information you need to know about fish oil — including whether it’s good for your energy and your brain — so you can make an informed choice on whether to add it to your diet or not.

What Is Fish Oil?

Let’s get started by taking a look at exactly what fish oil is.

Firstly, it’s important not to confuse fish oil with cod liver oil, krill oil or shark liver oil. These are different oils that would need a different explanation, so in this article I’ll stick to just discussing fish oil.

Fish oil can be consumed either by eating cold-water fish or by taking it in supplement form. It’s derived from the tissues of oily fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon, and is loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Interestingly, fish don’t produce this oil on their own; the oil primarily comes from their consumption of algae and plankton.[1]

It’s worth noting that the human body does not produce many of its own omega-3 fatty acids. It also can’t make omega-3 fatty acids from omega-6 fatty acids — which are common in our contemporary Western diet.


Extensive research has been done on EPA and DHA, which are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil. The research to date strongly suggests that these omega-3 fatty acids can offer numerous health benefits when consumed on a regular basis.[2]

Let’s look now at some of these benefits of fish oil, and whether you should choose to consume the oil or not.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil

In my research of fish oil, I was surprised to discover that men and women benefit differently from it.

One of the key gender differences is how omega-3 fatty acids affect the ‘stickiness’ of blood. A 2010 trial by scientists from Australia’s University of Newcastle found that EPA and DHA reacted differently in males and females when it came to helping prevent a tendency for platelets in the blood clumping together to form dangerous clots (known as platelet aggregation).

The scientists discovered that while the combination EPA and DHA both reduced platelet aggregation, there was a gender difference. Namely, EPA was significantly more effective in men, compared with DHA or placebo capsules — while DHA was significantly more effective in women, compared with EPA or placebo capsules.[3]

The University of Newcastle scientists proposed that the differences could be caused by differing interactions between the male and female sex hormones and the two omega-3s (EPA and DHA).


It’s important to note that, despite the gender differences, the study does not undermine the health benefits of consuming fish oil.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, fish oil will help you to stay fit, healthy and energetic.

Fish oil is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are actually essential to the proper operation of our brain and body. Without these fatty acids, we’ll always be running below par.

Here’re 11 benefits of omega-3 fish oil:

1. Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Problems

Several studies have found that fish oil can help you control your high blood pressure and lower your triglyceride levels.[4] Omega-3 fatty acids make your blood vessels more elastic and relaxed, allowing blood to flow more easily through them.

2. Protect Your Skin

Fish oil helps to reduce acne, protects against sunburn, and even reduces skin flaking. According to one study,[5] both omega-6s and omega-3s “show promise as safe adjunctive treatments for many skin disorders.” These benefits are most likely due to fish oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Reduce Symptoms of Arthritis

Fish oil benefits your joints in two ways: it reduces cellular inflammation and protects your joints from pain by inhibiting pain-causing chemicals in your body.

According to one study,[6]


“Supplementation with omega-3 PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] for 3-4 months reduces patient reported joint pain intensity, minutes of morning stiffness, number of painful and/or tender joints, and NSAID consumption.”

4. Slow Down the Signs of Aging

To look younger, you need longer telomeres, which are the extreme ends of chromosomal DNA. Telomere length typically decreases with age, contributing to cell loss. One study discovered that patients with lower levels of omega-3s in their blood had faster telomere shortening.[7] This has an impact not only on the physical aging process, but also on other signs of aging such as heart disease and cell degradation.

5. Prevent Depression

Omega-3s contain two fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); both have provided the most promising evidence in support of fish oil as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders.[8] Although EPA appears to be the more effective of the two, DHA has also been found to be potentially effective in lowering suicide risk.

6. Help Reduce Abdominal Fat

While there is no evidence to support fish oil as a weight loss aid, one study found that,[9]

“waist circumference was significantly reduced in those with fish oil supplementation combined with life modification intervention.”

This means that when combined with healthy lifestyle changes, fish oil is likely to help eliminate abdominal fat. If you want to lose some inches around your waist, eat healthier, exercise regularly, and take fish oil supplements regularly.

7. Improve Memory

A 5-year study discovered that eating seafood on a regular basis can help slow the decline of brain functions such as memory and thought speed. The study also discovered that eating more of a type of fat known as long-chain n-3 fatty acid, which is found in seafood, can boost the protective effect for some people.[10]

While it is impossible to completely prevent memory loss, fish oil can help slow it down over time.

8. Preserve Muscle Mass

An intriguing study[11] on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy found that fish oil helped preserve weight and muscle mass, implying that it can combat cancer-related malnutrition. It’s unclear whether fish oil can help the general population maintain muscle mass, but these findings are extremely encouraging.

9. Protect You From Air Pollution

Fish oil supplements have been shown to protect against the negative effects of air pollution on the heart and blood lipid levels.

Air pollution can cause acute cardiac changes as well as an increase in lipid levels, which can lead to long-term health problems. However, taking omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish oil supplements can help mitigate the negative effects of air pollution exposure. According to a study,[12] participants who took fish oil supplements before being exposed to air pollution had lower levels of very low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides than those who took olive oil supplements.


10. Help Maintain Bone Density

Several NASA studies have revealed that a specific omega-3 fatty acid can help counteract bone density loss caused by weightlessness in space.[13]

These studies looked into the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on bone loss using cell culture, ground-based bed rest, and data from space shuttle and International Space Station crew members. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to cells inhibited the activation of bone-breaking factors, and astronauts who ate more fish, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, lost less bone mineral after spaceflight. These findings suggest that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake may help to prevent bone loss, for example, during long-duration space travel.

Where Can You Reap the Benefits of Fish Oil?

If you’re interested in adding fish oil to your diet to help your energy and health, then you have a couple of choices.

Firstly, as you’re probably aware, you can get fish oil directly from eating cold-water fish. Some of the best fish varieties to go for (that supply the most omega-3s) are:[14]


However, if you don’t like the taste of these fish, or you don’t have the opportunity to eat them regularly, then the alternative is to take a fish oil supplement.

In my experience, fish oil supplements vary widely in price, quality and purity. Some of the high-street brands just don’t offer sufficient omega-3 quantities to make them a worthwhile investment.

Personally, and after many months of experimentation, I now take one capsule per day of Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement. This fish oil supplement is loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids with high EPA and DHA content. These fish oil pills benefits include:

  • Promoting brain health
  • Improving heart health
  • Maintaining healthy bones and joints
  • Improving skin tone and texture
  • Enhancing sleep
  • Boosting energy and well-being

I recommend that you give it a try as each of the gels contains a generous 1,200 mg of high-quality fish oil providing 720 mg of omega-3s.

I believe it will make a positive and significant difference to the way you tackle your work and home life. You’ll have the mental and physical strength to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you.


Try it and see for yourself the many benefits of fish oil supplements.

If you’re looking for more options, check out this article: 5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

How Much Fish Oil Should I Take Daily?

Whether through eating fish or taking a supplement, there is an optimum amount of fish oil that you should take on a daily basis. (I’ll answer the question ‘So how much fish oil is too much?’ in a moment.)

Of course, this will vary from person to person. A small child will obviously need less than a 6-foot man, for instance.

So how much fish oil is too much?

As a general rule, if you’re eating two to three portions of oily fish a week, then you will be ingesting a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. But if you don’t eat much fish, then supplementation is definitely the way to go.

Currently, there isn’t an agreed standard for how many omega-3s we should consume each day, but suggestions range from a fish oil daily dosage of 500mg to 1,000mg.[15]

You may also want to look at this fish oil dosage chart created by Omega 3 Innovation:[16]


*Level of EPA/DHA depends on the species, time of year, how the fish is prepared, whether it was farm raised or wild caught, etc.

Does Fish Oil Have Any Side Effects?

Questions you might have at this point:

Can you consume too much fish oil? Are there omega-3 fish oil side effects?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), omega-3 supplements containing EPA and DHA are safe provided doses don’t exceed 3,000 mg per day.

However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has a different position, stating that doses up to 5,000 mg per day from supplements is safe.

It’s important that you stick to these cautions as excessive intake of omega-3s can cause blood thinning in some people. It’s because of this that many organizations recommend people who have surgery planned stop taking omega-3 supplements 1–2 weeks beforehand.[17]

There’s also the risk of taking too much Vitamin A, which can be toxic in high doses and lead to liver problems and hair loss. It may also harm unborn babies, so pregnant mothers should avoid fish oil and Vitamin A supplements.[18]

Personally, given that 5,000 mg of omega-3s has never been shown to provide any added benefits, I strongly advise you to stay within the safe intake limits. It will protect your health — and your bank balance!


What’s the Best Time to Take Fish Oil?

Feel free to take it every day. It can also be consumed at any time of the day.

Having said that, you might want to split your daily fish oil consumption into two smaller doses — one for the morning, one for the evening. This can help reduce any potential acid reflux and indigestion effects that you might get from consuming the oil.[19]

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped you to see some of the amazing health benefits that consuming fish oil on a regular basis can bring; and answered your questions such as: ‘Why take fish oil?’ and ‘When to take fish oil?’ and ‘How much fish oil per day?’.

For me, having taken fish oil supplements for several years now, I’ve definitely noticed a major uptick in my overall health and well-being. I have way more energy than before. Plus I feel more physically and mentally resilient than I’ve done in a very long time.

I’d encourage you to try consuming fish oil for a few months (unless you’re pregnant or going into surgery) to see the positive effects for yourself.

I’m confident that after a few months — you won’t want to stop taking it!

Featured photo credit: Caroline Attwood via unsplash.com


[1]Harvard Health Publishing: Omega-3 fatty acids: Does your diet deliver?
[2]Healthline: 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
[3]Vital Choice: Does Gender Matter to Omega-3 Choices?
[4]Cardiol. Rev.: Fish Oil for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease
[5]Clinics in Dermatology: Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
[6]Pain: A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain
[7]JAMA: Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease
[8]Harvard Health Publishing: Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders
[9]PloS One: Does Fish Oil Have an Anti-Obesity Effect in Overweight/Obese Adults? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
[10]Neurology: APOE ε4 and the associations of seafood and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids with cognitive decline
[11]Wiley-Blackwell: Fish oil fights weight loss due to chemotherapy
[12]Environmental Health Perspectives: Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation appears to attenuate particulate air pollution-induced cardiac effects and lipid changes in healthy middle-aged adults
[13]Science Daily: NASA studies find omega-3 may help reduce bone loss
[14]WebMD: Fatty Fish That Are High in Omega-3s
[15]Dr. Axe: 11 Fish Oil Health Benefits, Plus Dosage Recommendations
[16]Omega 3 Innovation: How Much Omega-3 Fish Oil A Day Will Produce Results?
[17]Healthline: How Much Omega-3 Should You Take per Day?
[18]Versus Arthritis: Fish Oils
[19]Healthline: When Is the Best Time to Take Fish Oil?
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