A bowl of Fish Oil Capsules next to a cutting board with Various Nuts, Avocadoes and Salmon Filet

Fish Oil Supplements Guide: Facts, Benefits, Side Effects

Fish Oil is something you often hear about but don’t really consider or even think of all that much.

So what exactly is it and what does it do?

What is it good for, what are the benefits of fish oil supplements and why should you even consider taking fish oil pills or capsules in the first place? More importantly – are there any real side effects of fish oil?

In a world where thousands of different products fight for your hard-earned cash and a place in your daily diet – there’s a ton of misleading information that’s out there.

That’s why we’re here to answer all of those questions and more – we’re going to tell you everything you know about this supplement and why many professional athletes and bodybuilders consider it to be extremely important and make sure to incorporate it into their diets!

And once you’re done reading, you may want to check out our 10 Best Fish Oil Supplements List and see what the best products are for yourself.

Fish Oil: What Is It and What Does It Do?

A Fish Depicted by Omega 3 Fatty Acid Capsules put together

What Is Fish Oil:

Several different species of fatty fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids – essential nutrients that the human body can’t make on its own.

Fish oil is derived from the bodies of those fish and contains the two valuable Omega-3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA are responsible for most of the benefits that fish oil provides, especially when the ratio between the Omega-3 fatty acids and the Omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) is close to (1:1).

Sadly, most people get too much Omega-6 from their diets (from meats, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and dairy products, etc.) and they severely lack the Omega 3’s, ending up with a ratio that’s close to (10:1) or even (20:1) in some cases.

This can cause major health problems since, among other things, Omega-6’s are known for their inflammatory effects if the O3 and the O6 ratio is off, which is exactly the reason why most doctors recommend that people supplement their diets with O3’s.

So all Fish Oil products are basically Omega 3 Supplements.

You can get your O3’s naturally from fish, which means that people who eat 3-4 meals of it per week do not generally need to supplement it into their diets. However, most people do not eat that much fatty fish per week.

What Fish Oil Does:

If you’re asking “What does Omega 3 Fish Oil do?”, the easier question to answer would be – “What doesn’t it do?”

That’s because it plays a major role in improving an astonishing number of vital processes in the body!

For bodybuilders, it helps build muscle, lose body fat and improve their physique in general.

For everyone else – it greatly improves general health and well-being. We’ll discuss all the benefits in great detail below.

Nutrition Facts

A Spoon Full of Fish Oil Omega3 Tablets next to a Fresh Cut Salmon Steak

You get the best and most natural form of O3s from eating whole fish, where they’re present as free fatty acids, phospholipids, and triglycerides.

After that, fish oil products mainly come in regular, processed and reformed triglyceride form.

Regular Form – The most natural and recommended form where the O3’s are mostly present as triglycerides. In this form, the absorption of O3s by your body is generally halved.

This type of product can be potentially dangerous if produced by an unknown manufacturer from low-quality ingredients.

Processed Form – The oil is processed for purification and/or concentration and becomes a form that’s not naturally found in nature – Ethyl Ester. It rids the oil of contaminants such as mercury and increases the concentration of EPA/DHA, but the absorption of these O3s by your body is reduced by an even more significant margin.

This type of product is the most common one, having a glaring downside of significantly reduced absorption.

Reformed Triglyceride Form – This is when the Ethyl Ester is converted into synthetic triglycerides to help increase the absorption and keep all the benefits of the Processed Form.

This type of product is the most expensive one but generally contains no downsides.

Fish Oil label with nutrition facts

Note that Fish Oil is extremely high in Cholesterol, but it contains the GOOD sort of Cholesterol (HDL).

Fish Oil Benefits: for General Health and Bodybuilding

Fit Woman Holding a Transparent Bottle of Omega 3 Fatty Acids Supplements

So is it good for you? We’ll let you decide for yourself.

The benefits of fish oil are too many to list, but we’re going to provide you with the main ones and divide them into two categories – one for athletes and other for general health.

Benefits of Omega 3 Fish Oil for General Health:
  • Healthy and Moisturized Skin and Hair
  • Improves Immune System
  • Decreases Inflammation
  • Lower Risk of Cancer
  • Lower Risk of Mental Disease
  • Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Prevents accumulation of excess triglycerides
  • Prevents atherosclerosis
  • Used to treat Arthritis, Rheumatism, and similar conditions
  • Helps against Depression and Anxiety and Improves Mood
  • Reduces Stress, Mental Fatigue, Restlessness and even Decreased Sexual Desire
  • Improves Vision
  • Helps treat ADHD or ADD
  • In Pregnant women, helps develop the eyes and brain of the fetus, reduces chance of miscarriage and premature birth
  • Improves Fertility and Sexual Health
  • Better Heart Health and Improved Blood Circulation
  • Reduces Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes
  • Helps Improve and Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Enhances Mental Clarity, Memory, and Concentration

As you can see, there are tons of different benefits, all proven by the staggering amount of scientific and medical studies.

Benefits of Omega 3 Supplements for Bodybuilding and Fitness:

  • Increases Stamina and Endurance
  • Reduces Fatigue
  • Better Muscle Growth and Recovery
  • Improves Cardio-Respiratory Functioning
  • Combats negative effects of intensive training on the immune system
  • Anti-Catabolic Effect
  • Better Bone Health and Healthier Joints
  • More Focus and Energy
  • Increases Fat Loss (O3s promote Fat Oxidation, Improve Insulin Sensitivity and Calorie Partitioning by the Body)

And there are many more benefits, a lot of them indirect.

As you can see, O3s provide direct and indirect benefits for any bodybuilder or athlete who wants to incorporate these essential nutrients into their diets.

Side Effects of Fish Oil

Let’s make one thing very clear – it is just fatty oil that’s found in fish.

If it’s made from high-quality ingredients and manufactured using the proper processes – it’s exactly as safe as eating fish, which means that there are virtually no side effects if you’re using a good product.

The only side effects come from damaged and low-quality products as well as over-consumption. So remember – too much of it is a bad thing, as with any other supplement!

Safety Facts

The most important thing is the source of the fish because a large part of the world’s fish supply is strongly polluted with methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dioxins.

Fish products tend to contain a palpable amount of mercury in them, anywhere from 10 to 1000 parts per notation (ppb) of mercury, where proper Omega 3 supplements only contain 2-10 ppb.

This means that eating too much natural fish can lead to dangerously high levels of mercury, where consuming fish oil will not have that effect but still provide you with the same benefits.

The product also has to be naturally made fish oil, as synthetically derived products can cause problems since they come in a form not naturally found in nature.

The product should also be made from cold-water fish, as it contains the highest amount of EPA and DHA out of any other food source.

Finally, check the manufacturer’s label carefully and under no circumstances consume the product after its expiration date or if you smell that it’s rancid. That’s because if this type of product spoils and stays exposed to oxygen for too long – it becomes a lipid peroxide – a highly dangerous compound.

How To Take Fish Oil Supplements

A usual person Looking at Fish Oil Supplement Capsules Next to a Glass of Water

It comes in liquid form, capsules or pills – never in tablets.

The most important thing you need to know is that absorption of both O3s (EPA and DHA) significantly increases if you consume it together with a meal that’s medium to high in fats (8 to 15 grams of fat).

You should also take fish oil either with your daily vitamins or if you’re not taking any – with Vitamin D, to maximize the benefits and effects of EPA and DHA.

How Much You Should Take:

The most common question we see is “How much Fish Oil should you take?”

Most doctors recommend taking 1-2 grams daily, but if you’re someone who trains regularly or very intensely, then the recommended amount is 3 grams.

When To Take Fish Oil:

It doesn’t matter all that much when to take it since the benefits of Omega 3 accumulate over time and aren’t instant.

Most people take 1-3 grams daily, which means that they take several fish oil pills or capsules in one day. So the best thing to do is to spread them out evenly, with the ideal split being one during breakfast, one during lunch and one with dinner.

Food Naturally High in Omega 3s

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to rely on dietary supplements at all and get all of your nutritional needs from a healthy and balanced diet.

Here are some foods that are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, other than fish:

Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Butternuts, Pecan Nuts, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Avocadoes, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Spinach, Watercress, Oysters, Krill, Soybeans and Grass-Fed Beef.

Many of these contain O3 of type ALA (which is a different type of Omega 3 fat that’s somewhat inferior to DHA and EPA).

As you can see, there are many foods that contain this fatty acid so getting what you need from whole foods shouldn’t be hard. However, if you feel that you’re not getting enough of it, check out our 10 Best Fish Oil Supplements: The Top List article.

Krill Oil versus Fish Oil

There’s a huge debate going on about whether Krill Oil is better than Fish Oil and vice versa.

So let’s put it all to rest – both of them provide healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids DHA and EPA, except that Krill Oil comes from small crustaceans and not fatty fish.

Krill Oil Omega 3s contain more EPA than DHA, and their fatty acids are bound in a phospholipid structure, which means that humans absorb them more easily.

Krill Oil also contains a potent natural antioxidant Astaxanthin, which has several health benefits not present in Fish Oil. It’s also significantly less likely to contain toxins like mercury, PCBs, and other metals.

But despite Krill Oils superior absorption, the omega-3 content is minimal compared to Fish Oil.

So Krill Oil has its advantages, but they aren’t very significant since they basically provide the same benefits but less O3s in general.

Conclusion

And there you have it – you now know mostly everything that’s necessary to have an informed opinion about these types of supplements.

The health benefits of Fish Oil are massive and too numerous to list – that’s why doctors recommend it to pretty much any person of any age with any body type. Due to our modern diets, most people have a severe imbalance of O6s and need to get more O3s in their diets.

Athletes and Bodybuilders have known of it for a very long time and make sure it’s a part of their nutrition plan. We couldn’t agree more!

So what do you personally think about fish oil? If you have any thoughts on the subject, please write them in the comments below and let’s discuss!

Eat Well and Stay Healthy!