Fish oil is a dietary supplement that is obtained from the oil of fatty cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, trout, anchovies, and tilapia, via a process known as wet pressing. It is an abundant source of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and is mainly known for supporting heart health, brain health, and eye health. Since the body cannot make omega-3s on its own, these essential fats must come from food sources or a supplement.
Wild-caught, fatty cold-water fish are among the best food sources of omega-3s and, because of that, the American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish two times per week. Most people don’t follow this recommendation, and fish oil is a popular supplement used instead to meet any possible deficiencies of omega-3s.
Fish oil supplements are available in capsule, liquid, and gummy form, or in a prescription strength formula from a physician. Over-the-counter and prescription strength fish oil products should not be taken in tandem.
Though generally considered safe, there can be some mild side effects from taking fish oil supplements, including loose stools, indigestion, nosebleeds, a fishy taste in your mouth, bad breath, and fishy burps. These symptoms can usually be alleviated by taking the fish oil supplement with a meal that includes healthy fats, adjusting the dosage, or switching the time it is taken. You should always speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
Fish oil is believed to support the endothelial function of the lining of blood vessels. By supporting a healthy blood flow, the omega-3s in fish oil can support sexual health.
This study of the associations of fish oil supplement use with testicular function in young men reported that the use of fish oil promotes testicular health in healthy men. The self-reported use of fish oil supplements improved testicular function as measured by higher semen volume, total sperm count, and testis size, lowered FSH and LH levels, and a higher free testosterone to LH ratio. There were no standard doses of EPA and DHA collected or dose of fish oil used, so more studies are required.
There is some evidence that supplementing with fish oil or increasing omega-3s with a healthy diet can support fertility. Other factors that may impact fertility include lifestyle foundational activities such as adequate sleep, exercise, a nutritionally dense healthy diet, adequate hydration, and stress management.
This study examined omega-3s and omega-6s content in supporting hormones associated with fertility. Healthy omega 3/6 levels are needed to maintain healthy sperm cell membranes for sperm health, integrity and function. More research is required and if you are experiencing fertility issues, you should speak with your doctor.
This study found that dietary supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid-rich fish oil increased circulating levels of testosterone in overweight and obese men. Participants in this study were given 860 mg of DHA and 120 g of EPA daily.
Fish oil can support heart health by supporting healthy blood flow. The American Heart Association recommends that every person should eat fatty fish at least two times per week in order to support heart health. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Research suggests that DHA improves facets of memory and cognition and that greater consumption of omega-3 rich fish leads to better performance on cognitive battery tests.
There is research to support the claim that supplementing with omega-3s may support eye health. The retina has high levels of DHA, and making sure adequate levels are present is crucial to optimal eye health.
In this randomized, double-blind clinical trial, 64 patients between the ages of 45 and 90, presenting with dry eye symptoms, were randomized into 2 groups: 33 persons in the treatment group and 31 persons in the placebo group. The treatment group received 2 capsules of omega-3 fish oil (each containing 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA) daily for 30 days, and the placebo group received 2 medium chain triglyceride oil capsules daily for 1 month. The study found that oral consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA twice daily for 30 days) supports healthy vision.
Fish oil can be taken orally, and some extracts are also being used topically in cosmetic products. There is some evidence to support that omega-3s and 6s may play a role in supporting and maintaining healthy skin according to this study.
The potential for skin support by fermented fish oil derived from fish oil when used topically was found in this study.
Fish oil is generally considered to be safe, but there are some potential minor side effects like gastric distress, bleeding, nausea, heartburn, bad breath, and fishy burps. There are also some concerns about possible allergic reactions and interactions with medications that you might be taking, especially blood thinners. It is always best to consult your physician before making any changes to your medication or adding a supplementing protocol.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies, tuna, herring, and tilapia are among the best food sources of omega-3s. Eggs that are enriched with omega-3s are also a good source. Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil are also good sources of omega-3s. The plant-based omega-3s contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), while the fatty fish contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are much more easily utilized in the body.
The decision to take a supplement is a personal one that should be made with your physician or healthcare provider. The need and benefits of supplementing must be examined before you even begin to shop around for the best possible product. Care/of has an excellent article, The Best Vitamins and Supplements for Men, that could be an excellent source of information as you begin to do your research. They also have an article on Male Fertility Vitamins that may be helpful. And if it’s fish oil that you’re looking at, their article on How Much Fish Oil Should I Take may also prove to be a great resource.
When it comes to fish oil, it’s important to remember that quality is key. The integrity of the oils is affected by the entire process of preserving them. It is important to choose a reputable brand like Care/of. Our Fish Oil supplement "Wild at Heart" has been sustainably sourced from wild Alaskan salmon.