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Fish Oil Benefits: Based On Science

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Fish oil is extracted from fish, and is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs, and it tends to be extremely bioavailable. 
  • Fish oil can support heart and immune health, as well as bolstering your metabolic function. 
  • However, fish oil does have some downsides. An alternative fatty acid like C15:0 that you can get through fatty15 might be a better choice for some people.

Somehow, in our search for supplements that help us maintain a healthier lifestyle, we all agreed it was okay to have fish breath. It’s understandable; we know we should eat omega-3 fatty acids to keep us healthy, and the biggest source of omega-3s are certain types of fish. Since most of us don’t consume enough fish in our diets to obtain the amount of omega-3s we need, we turn to fish oil supplements. Even when the extracted supplement we use comes from a plant (like algae) instead of fish, the smell can still be quite off-putting. Regardless, we swallow that fish oil capsule every morning because its health benefits can outweigh the side effects of omega-3 supplementation.

If you arrived here to learn about fish oil, you’re in luck. Although fish oil capsules are famous for their unpleasant odor, they do offer some health benefits and contain essential fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

While including more of these acids in your diet does provide some benefits (more on those later), it does appear that fish oil might not be as beneficial as we once thought. There are still plenty of reasons why taking fish oil supplements can be a good idea, but they’re not the secret weapon to superior heart health that you might think.

With that being said, let’s take a look at why so many people turn this supplement for health and wellness support. Then, we’ll explore some other options that might feature the benefits you’re looking for in fish oil. 

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Let’s take a look at why so many people turn to this supplement for health and wellness support.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is the extracted fat from certain types of fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and salmon. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. One omega-3 in particular, called alpha-linolenic acid, is considered an essential fatty acid, meaning your body needs it to thrive but cannot make it itself. As such, your best source of omega-3s can be from the foods that you eat, like eating fish.

Generally, your body does a better job of absorbing the things you need from your food instead of having it in supplement form. However, the bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements appears to be the same as in a portion of prepared fish. This means when you take a fish oil dietary supplement, your body is able to use the omega-3 fatty acids it contains in a similar manner as it would if you had just eaten a piece of cooked salmon.

Omega-3 supplements are generally very well tolerated, but with a few unpleasant potential side effects that can include:

  • A fishy aftertaste, including fish odor on the breath, and heartburn that can include “fishy burps.”
  • Nausea, loose stool, and general gastrointestinal upset
  • Rash 
  • Nosebleeds

Additionally, the amount of fish oil generally recommended for dietary supplementation is 2000-3000 milligrams (or 2 to 3 grams) per day, which may make it intolerable for someone who experiences any of the aforementioned side effects.

How is Fish Oil Beneficial?

Despite the effects of fish oil, many of us need those omega-3s — specifically EPA. EPA has been has been researched extensively, and science supports that it can provide the following benefits:*

  • EPA supports heart health. Research shows that consumption of omega-3 fatty acid supplements is beneficial for supporting healthy cardiovascular function. Additionally, pure EPA helps support healthy blood pressure levels and can help maintain healthy body weight, both of which are essential for good heart health.

  • Pure EPA promotes good metabolic health. Getting older and slowing metabolism go hand in hand, which can make extra pounds difficult to lose. Of much higher concern, however, is a condition associated with unbalanced metabolism, called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a myriad of symptoms like high blood pressure, obesity, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol and high triglycerides. EPA helps support your metabolism, which allows it to better balance and function correctly.

What Other Options Are Available Besides Fish Oil?

However, there can be many reasons why you may not consider taking a fish oil supplement. Clearly, the benefits of fish oil aren’t clear, aside from pure EPA. 

  • Fish/shellfish allergies. It’s unclear whether or not a person with a fish and/or shellfish allergy will be able to safely consume fish oil supplements.
  • Restrictive diets. People who adhere to restrictive diets may not be able to take a fish oil supplement. For instance, a vegan diet prohibits any food, supplement, or product that contains an animal extract.
  • Ingredients. Depending on what kind of fish oil supplement you take, you could end up taking more ingredients than you’d like. Even the most “natural” of fish oil supplements usually contain some extra ingredients, multiple sources of oil (fish and algae), and maybe ingredients that can cause indigestion.
  • Side effects. Fish breath is a real thing, and some people may not be able to tolerate it.

Thankfully, a growing body of science now supports a powder-based, taste-free, and vegan-friendly essential fatty acid called C15:0 (aka fatty15) which works in our bodies much like EPA does...and, in some ways, better.*

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What is C15:0?

C15:0 (also called pentadecanoic acid) is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid found mostly in whole dairy products, like whole milk and butter, as well as some fish and plants. This fatty acid was very common in our diets until 1977, when the government recommended that the way to keep healthy and avoid the risk of heart disease was to eat a diet lower in saturated fat. 

Unfortunately, these recommendations included reducing intake of foods, especially whole dairy products, with any kind of saturated fat. It ends up, not all saturated fats are created equal. In fact, the very conditions we have been trying to prevent using a low saturated fat diet - obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and liver diseases - have been on the rise.

Despite a lot of science now supporting that there are good saturated fats and bad ones, most people still think that all saturated fats are bad. 

Even-chain saturated fats, like C16:0, are associated with inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Odd-chain saturated fats, like C15:0, are associated with balanced immunity, heart health, lower triglyceride levels, healthy metabolism, red blood cell health, and liver health. Large population-based studies throughout the world support that healthy, odd-chain saturated fatty acids are crucial for our bodies, and we simply aren’t getting enough of them in the foods we eat today.*† While society has spent a generation avoiding fat, the makers of fatty15 have devoted their lives to harnessing the good fat and putting it back into our bodies where they belong.

How Can fatty15 Help?

Science supports that fatty15 (which contains a pure powder and vegan-friendly form of C15:0) helps keep you healthy starting at the cellular level, including helping your cells maintain balance and proper cellular function:*† 

  • Fatty15 supports healthy immunity.  Fatty15 helps promote healthy immune function, bringing your immune system back into proper balance. A tamed immune response can mean less chance for an improperly overactive immune system. 
  • Fatty15 supports overall metabolism. Fatty15 can help promote healthy metabolism, which can help keep your cholesterol numbers normal, and your glucose in acceptable range. While the aging process slows metabolic function, science supports that fatty15 can help bolster and balance your metabolism.
  • Fatty15 supports red blood cell health. Your body needs its red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body, but when red blood cells become fragile with age and aren’t functioning properly, this delivery system can decline. Fatty15 supports more resilient red blood cells so your red blood cells can function as they should.
  • Fatty15 loves your liver.  Liver health is crucial. The liver filters our blood and removes toxins from our bodies. As we age, we can experience faltering liver health, but we can take steps to fight back by supplementing our diets with C15:0. Fatty 15 can support liver function and helps promote its overall health.
  • Fatty15 supports mitochondrial function. The mitochondria in our cells produce energy that our cells need to perform their necessary functions. Aging slows down our mitochondrial processes, which can leave us feeling sluggish and worn down. Fatty15 supports mitochondrial health, so no matter what age we are, we have a fighting chance to feel better and keep doing the things we love to do.

Fatty15 is an essential part of a full-bodied healthcare stack. A growing body of evidence supports that fatty15 provides many more benefits than a fish oil supplement, but it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and effective at just 100 milligram serving per day. Additionally, fatty15 is vegan-friendly and free from dietary allergens like gluten, dairy, and soy. In fact, it only has one simple ingredient, FA15 (aka, the pure powder, sustainably produced, award-winning, C15:0 ingredient). 

If you’re considering fish oil as a means of protecting your health, including supporting your immune system and aiding your metabolism, consider fatty15 as an oil-free, fish-free, and more effective option to add to your daily health regime.

Sources:

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/circulationaha.114.015176

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7048378/

https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2019/09/total-heart-disease-deaths-on-the-rise/

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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