Fish has long been known to be a source of Omega-3 fatty acids but it
wasn’t until recently that the exact effects of these acids have become
known. And, now that the results are out in the open, people have been
consuming fish or fish oil to receive the benefits they give.
Omega-3s (specifically eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and
docosahexaenoic acid or DHA) are known to help combat cardiovascular
problems, memory loss problems, inflammatory conditions and obesity.
Ensuring that your diet contains enough Omega-3 fatty acids will help
you ward off these conditions. And as you’ll soon find out, Omega-3 can
also help you to build muscle.
In 1996 the American Heart Association released the Science Advisory
“Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Lipids and Coronary Heart Disease.” The
advisory report listed the benefits of taking these substances based on
evidence from clinical trials.
In November 2002 the American Heart Association released a Scientific
Statement “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and
Cardiovascular Disease.” This statement more specifically linked
consumption of Fish Oil (and Omega-3s) to a decrease in the risk of
heart arrhythmias (which can lead to death), a decrease in triglyceride
levels, a decrease in the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and a
slightly lower blood pressure.
Although Omega-3s can be found in multiple sources including fatty
fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and
salmon, fish oil and even in flax seed oil. However, only fatty fish or
fish oil contains adequate amounts of EPA and DHA.
Most people view Omega-3 fish oil supplements as general health
supplements, however, supplementing your weight gain diet with fish oil
should help you achieve an improvement in your body’s composition by
decreasing the amount of excessive body fat mass as well as a lower
likelihood of the fat being distributed in the abdominal area.
Studies have shown that even during periods of weight gain Fish Oil
will help redistribute the fat cells away from the abdominal area and
limit the rate of atherosclerotic plaque. In other words, even if it
doesn’t help decrease weight it will help you be a “healthier” fatter
Meanwhile, research from the Washington University and the University
of Nottingham suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil
supplementation can help improve muscle growth. In this study, healthy
men and women supplemented with 4 grams of fish oil per day (1.86 g EPA +
1.5 g DHA) for 8 weeks. One of the most interesting findings of this
study was that fish oil supplementation significantly improved muscle
protein synthesis, suggesting an anabolic response to amino acids and
insulin, which is an enormous benefit to people interested in gaining
muscle mass and such.
Other studies have shown that Fish Oil has a significant effect on
the brain and cognitive functioning. DHA plays a vital role in brain
development and then maintenance of normal brain function in adults. The
study “Helland IB, Smith L, Saarem K, Saugstad OD, Drevon CA. Maternal
supplementation with very-long-chain n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy
and lactation augments children’s IQ at 4 years of age. Pediatrics. 2003
Jan;111(1):e39-44” showed that maternal supplementation with fish oil
has been shown to increase the IQ of children at age four by an average
of 4.1 points.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Fish Oil seems to have very few side effects and it is generally
considered safe and well tolerated. It even has fewer adverse effects
than other dietary supplement oils. Doses equivalent to three times the
FDA’s maximum safe dosage (3 grams EPA/DHA per day) have shown to be
safe in rats. Studies have shown that the main side effects in humans
have been a fishy taste in the mouth or “fish burps” but these side
effects depend on the type of supplement taken.
It should be noted, though, that there are two major possible side
effects of consuming too much fish oil. The first is that consuming high
doses of fish oil may decrease the function of the immune system (as
compared to an increase in function on lower dosages). The second is an
increase in LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol. As with
any dietary supplement, if you simply follow the directions and consult
with your physician you can rest assured that the supplement is helping
Cost per Day
The Omega-3 dosages used in the research study were 1.86 grams (EPA) and 1.5 grams (DHA). The NOW Foods Ultra Omega 3 fish oil costs $21.25 (if you include free shipping) for 180 soft-gels. Since each soft-gel contains 500 mg of EPA, you would only need to take 4 soft-gels per day. This would last you 45 days so the cost per day would be around .48 cents. This is very inexpensive when you consider the muscle building and health benefits that you get from fish oil.
All in all, fish oil supplementation appears to improve our body’s
ability to prevent disease, strengthen immunity, and improve muscle
growth, among other benefits. Whilst you could get Omega 3 fatty acids
from fatty fish in your diet, the problem is you would have to consume a
large amount of fish. If you don’t, then you can take an Omega 3 fish
I’ve only tried the Now Foods Ultra Omega 3 Fish Oil. If you’ve found
a better deal on a high EPA fish oil then let us know in the comments
below. This can include liquid fish oil since I know some people find it
hard swallowing big softgels.