What is fish oil used for?

Lucette Talamas, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Omega-3 PUFAs are essential fatty acids, meaning that they cannot be made by the human body and need to come from one’s diet.

The human body uses omega-3 PUFAs in many ways. They are considered a ‘good’ unsaturated fat, while saturated fat is associated with increased levels of cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Once consumed, omega-3 PUFAs are further metabolized into compounds that are used at a cellular level, resulting in beneficial health effects including heart health.

Omega-3 PUFAs are also important for brain development and function. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, research supports the beneficial impact of omega-3 PUFAs in cardiovascular disease, as well as heart function by ensuring a regular heart rate and coronary blood flow.

Omega-3 PUFAs have also been shown to decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure slightly, reducing the risk of heart disease. Evidence to support beneficial effects of omega-3 PUFAs on other conditions, such as dementia and other neurological diseases, have been insufficient or inadequate.

The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) notes that the research findings are inconsistent as far recommending omega-3 PUFA supplements, but it is clear that including fish rich in omega-3s is beneficial as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.