What is fish oil and what are the benefits?

Published November 22, 2012

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Fish Oil

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Fish oil is a good source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which have been discovered to have a wide range of health benefits. Because our bodies cannot produce Omega-3, this means we need to consume an adequate amount through diet or via supplementation where dietary intake is inadequate.

8 Benefits of Fish Oil

As an excellent source of Omega-3, fish oil may be beneficial for various aspects of health:

  1. Supports joint health – Omega-3 in fish oil may relieve mild rheumatic aches and pains.
  2. Plays an important role in growth and development – The adequate intake for Omega-3 during pregnancy is higher. This is because during pregnancy the demand for Omega-3 fatty acids for placenta and foetal tissues must be met by the mother’s store, or by increased dietary intake1.
  3. Helps support heart health – Omega-3 from fish oil has a number of effects on the heart’s cardiovascular function and health. Current research suggests that fish oil may help healthy blood pressure and triglyceride levels in healthy individuals. It’s recommended that Australian adults consume at least 500mg of Omega-3 from fish oil daily to support healthy heart health.
  4. Helps keeps the brain sharp – The brain is rich in Omega-3, particularly DHA. Consuming Omega-3 rich fish oil may help support healthy brain function, and maintain cognitive function and memory especially in older adults. Omega-3 may help maintain a healthy nervous system development and function and maintain learning and memory in children.
  5. Maintains eye health – Just like the brain, the retina is also rich in the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA. As a source of DHA, regular fish oil supplementation helps support eye health as we age.
  6. General health – Omega-3 fatty acids are important for normal growth and cell function, and the maintenance of general health and wellbeing.
  7. Childhood development – The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help support the development of the brain, eyes and nerves in children. Supplementation of fish oil may be beneficial for attention, memory and behaviour in some children.
  8. Mood balance – fish oil may help maintain normal mood in healthy individuals

What are the best dietary sources of Fish Oil?

Fish are the key sources of these healthy oils, but some varieties are better than others. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and herring are some of the best sources of fish oil, followed by crab, squid, octopus, oysters and mussels.

Are you getting enough Omega-3?

The suggested daily target of Omega-3 for general health and wellbeing is 610mg for healthy men and 430mg for healthy women. To support heart health, it’s recommended that all Australians consume at least 500mg of combined EPA and DHA every day. This is equivalent to around 2-3 servings of fish, seafood or Omega-3 enriched eggs each week. For specific health (eg. mild rheumatic aches and pains) needs you’ll require much higher amounts of Omega-3, which may be difficult to obtain through diet alone.

How can I get enough Omega-3?

Taking a fish oil supplement on a daily basis is a good way to increase your intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids and support your health and well‐being when you aren’t getting sufficient amounts through diet alone.


  1. Nutrient Reference Values. Fatty Acids. NHMRC. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/fats-total-fatty-acids accessed October, 2018


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