The belief in the mental and neurological benefits of fish oil likely stems from the fact that about 40 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in our brain, or five to 10 percent of our total brain mass, is omega-3 DHA, said R. Preston Mason, professor at Faculty of Medicine, Department of Cardiology, at Harvard Medical School. This connection appears to be involved in the transmission of signals between brain cells. And state diet guidelines claim that seafood consumption is important for normal brain growth and development. But we don’t really know what specifically taking fish oil supplements as a child or adult would do to improve neurological or mental health.
Some research has suggested that fish oil may help with attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or with mental function and behavior in children in general. A little research also suggests that fish oil might help reduce or control the risk of certain mental illnesses in children and young adults who show mild symptoms of it. At least one study has even put forward the idea that fish oil might help reduce seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. But all of these results are quite weak and preliminary – they cannot be trusted at face value.
Does Fish Oil Help Eye Health?
Although a few studies have suggested that regular consumption of fish may lead to less age-related vision loss, and that regular fish oil consumption reduces the risk of cataracts, these studies have been inconclusive and have been controversial. According to Kopecky, fish oil used to be regularly prescribed for dry eye treatment until three to five years ago, when meta-analysis showed there wasn’t really much benefit. Ophthalmologists no longer recommend it.
Does Fish Oil Help Your Skin?
Kopecky is reluctant to support dermatological studies suggesting fish oil may help with wrinkles. Other studies also suggest that fish oil may help with acne, eczema, and psoriasis, but these too are relatively limited and hardly conclusive. However, it’s worth noting that they appear to be less controversial than other findings on fish oil benefits.
Does fish oil help or prevent cancer?
While some researchers have suggested the power of fish oil to help reduce your risk of developing all types of cancer — such as breast, colon, esophageal, lower mouth, ovarian, throat, and prostate cancer — studies suggest that investigating these claims was limited and their findings were all over the map. At least one study has actually suggested that fish oil use could increase prostate cancer risk when consumed by certain subgroups and in certain amounts over time.
Does Fish Oil Help You Lose Weight?
Lifestyle magazines briefly hyped a study from Japan arguing that fish oil stimulates the digestive tract in mice, reducing weight gain and aiding in weight loss. Another study suggested that obese people with high blood pressure might benefit from fish oil. However, these results are exceptionally limited and there is no substantial evidence that this would help humans control their weight.