All a little bit fishy? Let’s find out if fish oils really help the immune system…
Do Fish Oils Really Help the Immune System?
Fish oils have been a popular dietary supplement for quite some time now. Their rich omega-3 content is most commonly associated with having a positive effect on brain functioning and better heart health.
However, recently they have also been found to boost the immune system and prevent disease by reducing inflammation.
They’re also a great way to get those all-important omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, especially if you aren’t fond of eating fish.
In this article, we’ll discuss the relationship between fish oils and the immune system to find out if there’s anything fishy or if it's all plain sailing.
Why our body needs fish oilsConsuming fish oils is important because they can’t be made by the body and we need a dietary source of omega-3.
They boast many anti-inflammatory effects and are used for important functions such as cell growth and muscle activity. (1)
Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two omega-3s essential for health.These omegas can be found in dietary sources of fatty fish including mackerel, sardines, salmon and shellfish, as well as in nuts and seeds. However, many people don’t get enough (or none) of these foods in their diet, therefore it’s crucial to take a fish oil supplement.
How does fish oil help the immune system?
The high DHA and EPA content in fish oil has many immune-enhancing benefits that prevent disease by reducing inflammation and help to regulate immune system function.
According to a report in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, DHA-rich fish oil has been found to enhance B cell activity— A type of white blood cell found in the immune system that makes antibodies. (2)
"Fish oil may have immune-enhancing properties that could benefit immunocompromised individuals," — Jenifer Fenton, PhD.
Omega-3s regulate immune system function
Pathogenic bacteria control the entire process of inflammation.
A report published in 2019 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that EPA and DHA provide the basic building blocks for inflammation-resolving substances that promote the subsiding of inflammatory reactions. (3)
Helps to fight viruses
Omega-3 FAs such as DHA and EPA, play a role in mediating inflammatory processes and immunomodulation for both innate and acquired immune systems.
They achieve this by impacting the clumping of toll-like receptors which helps to improve complications of COVID-19 by producing fewer pro-inflammatory mediators, and as a result, decreasing inflammation of the lunges. (4)
Studies show that fish oil enhances antiviral response by inducing interferon (IFN) which inhibits viral replication. Omega-3 FAs weaken the antiviral response of T cells and thereby could potentially be used to modulate cytokine responses to viral invaders. (4)
Inhibit the enzyme COXFindings published in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences suggest the possibility of omega-3 helping at a cellular level. Scientists discovered that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which produces the prostaglandin hormones that spark inflammation.
The action is similar to what happens when one takes an aspirin, which disrupts the COX-2 signalling pathway, thus reducing inflammation and pain. (5)
Effects on inflammation
As we grow older the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s can be used to help support our health.
Phase one of inflammation in the body also known as ‘resolution’ is important to help prevent further infections and more tissue damage.Recent research shows that both EPA and DHA produce specialised pro-resolution mediators to help promote tissue repair and healing— vital factors in the fight against inflammation! (6,7)
What to look for in a quality fish oil supplement
Due to the popularity of supplementing with fish oils, it's easy to purchase a low-quality product— the market is full of them! Here at Water for Health, we always recommend you to go with a high-quality supplement from an industry-leading brand you can trust.
Key features to look out for when choosing a quality fish oil supplement include:
- Exceptional purity and impactful dosages of EPA and DHA per softgel
- Sustainably sourced from non-endangered small-species fish
- Made using cold and environmentally-friendly technology
- Devoid of both cholesterol and saturated fat (which are present in oily fish)
- Contains no traces of dioxins, PCBs, heavy metals or pesticides.
- Good bioavailability for better absorption
- Free from gluten and lactose
- No fish smell or taste
- At least a one month supply
Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements— and for good reason!Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements— and for good reason! They contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, essential to overall health and wellness. Fish oils are particularly beneficial for the immune system due to their anti-inflammatory, virus-fighting capabilities. For a great selection of high-quality industry-leading fish oil supplements visit Water for Health.
Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.