Uses for Fish Oil

Fish oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid, an essential fatty acid that the human body cannot make and must obtain through diet. The omega-3 oils found in fish oil include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA.) These components of fish oil give it health properties that make it good for a variety of health conditions.

Brain Boosting

Fish oil is used to boost the brain on both the short and long terms. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil. On a daily basis, fish oil shows promise in increasing IQ, improving classroom concentration among children and boosting the speed of brain tasks, according to the Disabled World article, “Why Fish Oil is Brain Fuel.”

Cardiovascular Health

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are used to protect the heart and cardiovascular system. Fish oil from supplements or eating fish is linked to a reduction in the risk of heart attack, death from heart disease, arteriosclerosis, heart arrhythmias, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Fighting Cancer

Breast, prostate and colon cancer are three types that may be prevented by regular intake of fish oil. Studies on the link between cancer and fish oil consumption are mostly preliminary at this point, says the Mayo Clinic. However, this early research suggests that the growth of cancer cells may be halted or slowed.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the nutrients ingested by a woman are transferred to her child. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are important to the growth of the fetal and infant brain. The ratio of omega-3 oils to omega-6 oils in the diet is especially important in the developing brain and consuming fish oil can help balance out these into a favorable ratio of 1 to 1. DHA is added to infant formula, but for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it is most easily obtained by adding fish oil to the diet.

Skin Conditions and Beauty

Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids can result in dry, itchy skin and brittle hair and nails. The EPA component of fish oil was found in a 2005 Journal of Lipid Research study to prevent skin aging. Consumption of fish oils has also been associated with a reduction in the symptoms of skin disorders such as photo-dermatitis and eczema.

About this Author

Bridget Coila has been writing professionally since 1998 and specializes in health, science and nutrition topics. Some of her articles have appeared in “Oxygen,” “American Fitness” and “Suite 101.” Coila has a B.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and 10 years of medical research experience.