There’s no doubt about the health benefits of fish oil, but how about Asthma?

It seems that the health benefits of fish oil, or more specifically the health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), found in fish oil, may also extend to asthma sufferers.

There’s no doubt from decades of research that too many of us have an inadequate intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and that the benefits of fish oil supplementation, or of eating more fish, extend to many areas of your health. This may now include asthma.

Over the last few decades the amount of fish in the average Australian diet has declined. The Omega 3 essential fatty acids are found more in fish then in any other food, and therefore this decline in our intake of fish has also resulted in a decline in our intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

And research is showing that there are significant health downsides from eating less of the Omega 3 fatty acids, primarily DHA and EPA. Health downsides include an increase in our risk of dying from heart attack.fish oil asthma

But is there a fish oil asthma link, or in other words can increasing our intake of fish oil, and therefore of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, help improve your asthma?

The first thing to say is that there is no definitive answer to this question. However the basic principles suggest that there may be a link between more Omega 3 and asthma reduction.

This is because the Omega 3 essential fatty acids are excellent anti-inflammatories, meaning that they help reduce inflammation in the body. Asthma is an inflammatory condition, and therefore it would make sense that an effective anti-inflammatory may well help reduce asthma symptoms.

However this doesn’t mean it’s so.

And of course there is really 2 questions. Firstly can increasing your intake of fish oil prevent asthma, and secondly can it help reduce the symptoms if you already have it?

A partial answer to these questions may have been provided by a study(see below) published in the American Journal of clinical nutrition in 2008.

In the study 533 women, all pregnant, were recruited for a study. Some of the women were given supplements. Some of these supplements contained fish oil, some contained olive oil. Some women got no supplements at all.

And the children that resulted from these pregnancies were studied in the succeeding period. In particular, 16 years later, they were assessed for asthma. And it was found that the “hazard rate for allergic asthma was reduced by 87 percent … in the fish oil compared with the olive oil group”.

And the conclusion was that “increasing n–3 PUFAs in late pregnancy may carry an important prophylactic potential in relation to offspring asthma.(n-3 PUFAs being the Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids).

In other words it seems from the study that women taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduced the risk of asthma in the child born from that pregnancy.

Other studies have also confirmed the possibility of a fish oil asthma link, not just from taking Omega 3 supplements during pregnancy but also after birth. And of course like all these things there are also studies pointing in the opposite direction.

There is no doubt that there are a wide range of health benefits from taking high quality Omega3 supplements, because the health benefits of fish oil supplementation are now firmly established. Even well recognised organisations such as the American Heart Association confirm a reduction in the likelihood of heart disease and heart attack by increasing the intake of the Omega3 fats.

Whether or not this extends to a reduction in asthma symptoms or in a reduction in the risk of asthma may still be up in the air and in need of further study. But there’s no doubt that everyone, unless they eat lots of fish, should be making more efforts to ensure an adequate supply of the Omega 3 fats in their diet, generally by the use of high quality fish oil supplements.

Whether or not you’ve got asthma, the health benefits extend to everyone.

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