What Is the Vitamin Fish Oil Good For?

Fact Checked

iBrian Balster/iStock/Getty Images

Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a compound which has many potential health benefits. While you can get some of these benefits by eating oily fish, like salmon or cod, you can also find fish oil supplements in the vitamin aisle of your grocery store. Taking fish oil daily may reduce your risk for certain heart-related medical conditions.

About Fish Oil

iBrian Balster/iStock/Getty Images

Fish oil supplements are sold in a variety of different strengths, and can be purchased over the counter. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, including both docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. The supplements regularly include some vitamin E as a preservative, but may also include a number of other vitamins and minerals, including A and D. Don’t expect all vitamin content of fish oil pills to be the same, however: their actual contents vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. According to Medline Plus, fish oil supplements are generally considered safe for most people provided they take less than 3 grams daily.

Potential Benefits

iBrian Balster/iStock/Getty Images

Tthe most thorough evidence for fish oil’s effectiveness relates to conditions involving the circulatory system. Fish oil supplements can lower triglyceride levels, which are fats in the blood similar to cholesterol. In addition, they can lower your risk for heart disease. Fish oil may also slow hardening of the arteries, which is one of the main causes of heart attack and stroke. According to Medline Plus, fish oil vitamins may rival the use of statins when it comes to reducing the risk of stroke. While the evidence is limited, fish oil may also help control symptoms of other chronic disorders, such as arthritis, bipolar disorder, asthma, menstrual pain and ADHD.

Unproven Claims

iBrian Balster/iStock/Getty Images

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for your health, but they do not cure everything. The use of fish oil to controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes has been attempted, but results to date have not been promising, per Medline Plus. In addition, while its use in cystic fibrosis, dementia, cancer, lupus and kidney disorders, there is currently little evidence that fish oil is effective at treating these conditions. There are also a number of cases in which fish oil supplements should not be added to the diet. Fish oil can interact with certain medications, including birth control pills, blood pressure medications and blood thinners.

How to Take Fish Oil

iBrian Balster/iStock/Getty Images

While the UMMC recommends adults stick to less than 3 grams of fish oil supplements daily, they report that you can take more if advised to do so by your doctor. In fact, those taking fish oil for cholesterol control should take between 2 and 4 grams daily, per UMMC. Their recommended dose for heart disease, however, is only 1 gram per day. This number pertains to adults only: while fish oil can help ADHD, UMMC reports that there is currently no standard dose for children. As with any dietary supplement, always talk to your doctor before taking fish oil vitamins.