Fish Oil: How Does It Work?

Written by OmegaXL on May 12, 2014

While several sources, such as flaxseeds, soybean oil and walnuts, contain omega-3, that fat comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the chemical precursor to EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, which we discussed in a previous article about fish oils). The body must convert the ALA into the more usable form, EPA and DHA. As a little side note, the longer one lives, the less efficient one’s body gets at catalyzing the reaction that turns ALA into EPA and DHA.

According to one source, researchers discovered the essential fatty acids and their beneficial properties while studying the Inuit people of Greenland. It is well known that in general, Inuit people eat an extremely high-fat diet (heavy seal and whale consumption), yet they rarely suffer from maladies that are typically associated with the North American diet. The researchers believed that the solutions to this anomaly lie within EPA and DHA consumption.

Fish oils contain certain fatty acids that reduce pain and swelling, which is a helpful property for any joint or inflammatory condition. Regarding conditions related to one’s blood lipid profile and cholesterol levels, the dietary (or supplementary) combination of EPA/DHA/polyunsaturated fatty acids works by lowering triglyceride levels in the body. Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that travels through your bloodstream and stores excess calories for later conversion into energy. If you frequently eat more calories than you burn, especially if they’re unhealthy, “bad” calories, you may develop high levels of triglyceride. By lowering triglyceride levels, fish oil may lead to a healthier you.