A little bit about fish oil
Initially I was going to call this article "all about fish oil", but that's just not possible. If you go to Medline, type in "fish oil" and run a search you will get back over 4,000 clinical studies showing the benefits of fish oil (FO). So I will make things easier for you and explain to you why you need FO in your quest for a better body and eternal health.
What is fish oil? To put it in simple terms FO contains two important nutrients called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They belong to the Omega 3 fatty acid family - you might know them better as Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's). By essential it means that your body can't make these nutrients and has to get them from your diet. (Well Alpha-linolenic acid can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, however the conversion is quite inefficient, but that's another story).
Every cell in your body has a cell membrane, and that membrane is made up of lipids (fat). It's known as a phospholipid by-layer. Now if you eat the wrong sort of fat, (saturated fat like the stuff in take away food, sausages, pies, chips), that will be the fat that makes up the cell membrane. And just as the crap food makes you slow, fat and lazy, your cells go the same way. Saturated fat makes them sticky, brittle and inflexible. Sounds like a recipe for heart disease and diabetes doesn't it?
Essential fatty acids make up a healthy cell membrane. Your cells then are flexible, slippery and healthy which helps keep your arteries clean. You're "tuned up", so to speak, and perform at your optimum.
A long, long time ago before refrigerators and food with bar codes dinner came in a skin, a shell or you had to peel it. Omega 3 fatty acids were in abundance. We got lots of them in our diet every day. They made us healthy and happy and hence we evolved into the magnificent beings we are today.
However along the way we have sabotaged ourselves. In our haste to become industrialised we processed all the goodness out of our food and as a consequence we have made ourselves sicker and fatter than at any time in history.
Okay, enough of the science stuff; let's get down to why you want it and what it can do for you. Well if you are here reading this stuff you are probably a figure competitor, bodybuilder or an athlete of some sort. That puts you in a unique group of people who put themselves through the rigors of strenuous training, a restricted diet and you probably want to look good naked too.
Fish oil can help....
1. The latest news comes from a 12 week study right here in Australia. Scientists took a group of overweight people with the usual health concerns that come with being overweight, and divided them into four groups - a sunflower oil group, a fish oil group, a sunflower oil plus exercise group and a fish oil plus exercise group.
They found that the fish oil plus exercise group lost the most fat, lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol significantly and improved their heart function. All this in 12 short weeks. And they were an unhealthy "high risk" group.
2. Fish oil can turn on your fat burning genes and turn off your fat storing genes.
3. Fish oil helps your cells communicate better with insulin. What this means is glycogen (the sugar from the carbohydrates you ate) are better stored as muscle glycogen (fuel) rather than being converted and stored as fat.
4. EPA and DHA reduce inflammation and can be of great benefit to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Daily supplementation with as little as 2.7 grams of EPA and 1.8 grams of DHA can reduce the incidence of tender joints and increase the time before fatigue sets in. Some studies have also noted a decrease in morning stiffness and at least two clinical trials concluded that arthritis patients who took fish oils could eliminate or sharply reduce their use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
5. Your brain likes fish oil too. EPA regulates blood flow to the brain, keeping you focused and alert while DHA is an integral part of brain cell membranes
So, how much FO do you need?
What's recommended and what is optimal? The American Heart Foundation, who are a pretty cutting edge bunch of researchers, recommends 0.5 - 1.8g of EPA and DHA for heart health and lowering cholesterol.
The optimum range for FO consumption may be as high as one capsule for every 4.5 kg of bodyweight (given that an average capsule contains 120mg DHA and 180mg of EPA). So a 60kg woman would take 13 capsules a day in divided doses with food.
Caution - high doses of fish oil can act as a blood thinner and, therefore, people who are already using other blood thinners should let their doctor know of their intention to try a fish oil product.
All in all I think that FO should be considered as an essential part of your daily diet and not just a supplement to take on occasion. There's just no reason not to take it.