Diet & Nutrition

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Is Fish Oil Really Necessary?


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health, but they can only be absorbed through food and supplements because our bodies cannot make them. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart disease and they play a critical role in brain function. Therefore, medical professionals recommend eating a diet that includes tuna, halibut, salmon, krill, nut oils and plants that have been proven to contain this necessary nutrient. However, omega-3 fish oil pills are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to absorb these essential fatty acids, and this has led to a wide variety of medical opinions.

What are the Medical Perks Associated with Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to cut many people’s risk of having a stroke in half, and this nutrient can have a positive impact on a wide variety of other medical issues:

  • Diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Macular degeneration
  • Skin disorders
  • ADHD

It is also important to note that having a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent the cognitive decline that accompanies dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Due to this, it is understandable that so many baby boomers have made the decision to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Do Fish Oil Pills Really Work?

Medical experts and nutritionists worldwide have been debating for several years whether or not fish oil pills are a viable resource for omega-3 fatty acids. According to many experts, these pills can have a positive impact in some cases, but they are also likely to provide the average person with no noticeable benefits. Additionally, research indicates that taking too many fish oil pills can cause you to gain weight.

It is interesting to note that 20 percent of adults living in the U.S. and U.K. are currently taking fish oil pills on a regular basis. If these pills truly provided all of the health benefits that have been associated with them, it seems likely that there would have been a noticeable decrease in medical issues within these two countries over the last few years. With this in mind, it is a good idea for every person to carefully consider whether or not adding a fish oil pill to their daily routine makes sense. However, if you are battling with issues such as lupus and osteoporosis, these supplements do have the potential to provide you with some positive results.

Is There a Downside to Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

There are several symptoms associated with having an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency:

  • Dry skin
  • Poor circulation
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Heart problems

With all of these potential issues, it probably seems like increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is obvious. However, it is important to note that taking a fish oil supplement can cause undesirable side effects such as diarrhea, bloating, belching and flatulence. Additionally, anyone who ingests a lot of omega-3 fatty acids runs the risk of increased bleeding even if they do not already have a bleeding disorder. Fish oil pills can also have a negative interaction with a variety of medications, including insulin, Plavix, Glyburide, Lipitor, Cyclosporine and topical steroids. Therefore, it is imperative for anyone who is considering taking a fish oil supplement to consult with their primary care physician to ensure that they will not be putting their health at risk.