However, there is a lot of information available about fish oil supplements, their uses, and when to take them – and, as a result, it can become confusing to sift through it all.
So, when is the best time to take fish oil? In this article, we will answer this question as well as address the benefits and uses of fish oil in a way that’s easy to understand.
Without further ado, let’s learn more about fish oil supplements and how to use them.
What are Fish Oil Supplements?
Fish oils can be found in oily or fatty fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout, etc. It contains two essential Omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish oils are important because they contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which the body doesn’t naturally produce enough of.
Fish oils also contain vitamins A and D but in small amounts. You can consume fish oil directly from fish or by taking supplements or prescription medications (endorsed by the FDA) in the form of capsules, pills, or liquids.
Fish oil supplements should not be used in place of prescription medications because they don’t contain the same amount of fish oil. Also, not all oils that contain Omega-3 are fish oil.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to try and avoid fish with Omega-3 fatty acids – such as swordfish and king mackerel – because it can be unsafe.
When is the Best Time to Take Fish Oil?
You can take fish oil supplements at any time of the day – there’s no ideal time to take them since people’s bodies vary. Some people find it convenient to take them in the morning or afternoon, while others in the evening. The benefits of fish oil supplements don’t start immediately upon taking them but rather are associated with long-term usage so the time of the day isn’t really important.
You can, however, reduce side effects such as acid reflux by dividing your fish oils into two small doses taken in the morning and at night. Note that if you have a recommended time from your doctor, it’s important you adhere to it.
How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?
In addition to considering when is the best time to take fish oil, it’s also important to know how much fish oil to take. For this answer, it’s best to consult with your doctor.
Consistency is important because it is a long process rather than an instantaneous one. If you’re getting your Omega-3 directly from fish, it’s recommended to consume them moderately according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Forms of Fish Oil
There are two main forms of fish oils. They are:
Natural Triglyceride (TG)
As the name suggests, this form of fish oil is naturally found in fish. It is similar to eating fish and has a high amount of DHA and EPA. This form has the highest absorbency.
Ethyl Ester (EE)
During the processing stage, fish oil is converted to this form and is a broken-down variant of triglyceride. It has a higher DHA and EPA concentration than what is naturally found in fish – hence, it’s known as fish oil concentrate. This form of fish oil is cheaper to produce.
Benefits of Fish Oil
These are some of the health benefits of fish oil:
Maintaining Heart Health
Although there is not enough evidence showing that fish oil prevents strokes or heart attacks, it is beneficial in maintaining heart health because it increases the level of good cholesterol in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils can also reduce blood pressure and prevent plaque buildup, which can cause your arteries to harden. Frequent consumption of fish oil can reduce the risk factors for heart disease.
Inflammation is the process by which the body’s white blood cells and other components protect you from bacteria or viruses.
However, there are cases of chronic inflammation where the body’s immune system can trigger inflammation when there’s no need, thereby causing damage to normal tissues. This is common with health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc.
Fish oils have anti-inflammatory elements that can reduce the effects of inflammation and reduce the symptoms of inflammatory-related diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Beneficial During Pregnancy
The importance of Omega-3 can also be found during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For improved fetal brain development and proper early growth and development, pregnant women should aim to consume three servings of low-mercury fish per week. If this is impossible to attain, the woman can take a fish oil supplement prescribed by her doctor.
There are also other benefits such as improvement in infant eye development, reduction in risks of allergies, and enhancing hand-eye coordination. It’s important to note that the consumption of fish oil doesn’t have a direct link to the improvement of pregnancy results.
Reducing Liver Fat
Another benefit of fish oils is that they may reduce liver fat. Since the fat in your body is processed by the liver, the fat can accumulate there and cause liver disease. Obese individuals can suffer from liver disease or NAFLD, which is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with liver functioning. It may also reduce symptoms associated with NAFLD and reduce fat stored in the liver.
Maintaining Healthy Skin
Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, it’s important to pay attention to it. Over time skin health will deteriorate due to aging, exposure to the sun, allergies, etc. The skin also contains Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils can help maintain the health of the skin.
Fish oils can also reduce inflammation caused by overexposure to the sun. However, you shouldn’t use them instead of sunscreens – they go hand in hand.
Maintaining Eye Health
Another benefit of fish oil is the maintenance of eye health, specifically the health of the retina.
However, few studies show the benefit of fish oil on eye problems that can be caused by age or other factors. Also, there is less evidence of fish oil supplements making any difference in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there side effects to taking fish oils?
Yes, there are side effects that come along with the consumption of fish oils. These potential side effects include acid reflux, diarrhea, heartburn, fishy breath, nausea, stomach upset, fishy aftertaste, etc.
Also, when fish oil is consumed in high quantities, additional side effects can include:
- High blood sugar for individuals with diabetes due to the stimulation of the production of glucose
- Lower blood pressure, especially for those with existing low blood pressure
To reduce these side effects, consider visiting your doctor, reducing your dosage, and taking your supplements with food.
Can anybody take fish oil supplements?
Yes, anybody can take fish oil supplements. However, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking any supplements to determine if you need fish oil supplements, the right dosage, potential side effects, and so on.
Also, people taking medication for certain health conditions should be aware that fish oil supplements can clash with their medications. People with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, etc., should only take fish oil under medical supervision.
Is cod liver oil different from fish oil?
Yes, there are several differences between cod liver oils and fish oils. Fish oils and cod liver oils are obtained from different sources. Fish oils are from fatty fish while cod liver oil is from a specific type of fish.
They are also made up of different elements. A similarity they share is their high level of Omega-3 fatty acids and their wide range of health benefits. Most people refer to cod liver oils as a type of fish oil, however, they are slightly different.
Can I take fish oil before an intense activity?
Yes, you can take fish oil before an intense activity – for example, before a workout. Taking fish oil before working out has been linked to several benefits such as improvement in protein synthesis, reduction in muscle cell inflammation, reduction in muscle soreness, energizing the body, increased performance, etc.
However, if you experience severe side effects from taking fish oils, do not take them before an intense activity.
Should I take fish oil before or after my meals?
Ideally, you should take fish oil after eating. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you take it, but you should take it with a meal. Many people notice a reduction in side effects such as nausea when they take their fish oil supplements after a meal.
Fish oil supplements should ideally be taken with food rich in fat to increase their effectiveness. You do not need to take the supplement with a heavy meal, but simply ensure your stomach is not empty.
Can individuals allergic to seafood take fish oil supplements?
There’s not enough research to say whether individuals allergic to seafood can take fish oil or not. It’s best to steer clear of them and get your Omega-3 fatty acids through alternative methods. The best advice is to consult with your doctor. Irrespective of what you read or hear, if you’re allergic to seafood, see your doctor before taking a fish oil supplement.
There is no straightforward answer to ‘When is the best time to take fish oil?’. It doesn’t matter when you take it, as long as you don’t take it on an empty stomach. While fish oil is beneficial, you can reap the same benefits from eating fish rich in Omega-3 and low in mercury such as sardines, anchovies, salmon, mackerel, or herring – just be careful not to eat them in excess.
Also, supplements can be a great substitute for fish – just ensure you don’t take too much of them and observe the way your body reacts to them.
Before buying fish oil, check that it has high levels of DHA and EPA. Also, ensure there are low, or no, traces of mercury. The FDA doesn’t endorse some fish oil supplements but NSF and USP do, so ensure you choose brands that carry their seals. Always remember to consult your healthcare provider before starting to take any supplement.