“If you’re an athlete or just training intensely, fish oil supplements can be a game changer.”
Dr Marc Bubbs, naturopathic doctor, strength coach and author
Omega 3 fish oil benefits for men
Men who want to live long (and prosper) should take a few tips from Iceland. On average at 81.2 years, Icelandic men have one of the most consistently high life expectancies in the world (while UK men languish at 16th place in the life expectancy charts at 79.4 years). The Nordic island also boasts more than its fair share of people living to over 100, with more than 50 centenarians recorded in 2018. Not bad for a country with the same population as Coventry.
But if moving to Reykjavik is out of the question, there is one thing you can do to live as long and hearty as an Icelandic Viking - increase the amount of fish in your diet. Scientists believe the secret to Icelandic men’s extraordinary longevity can be found squarely in one place: their dining tables.
Iceland has one of the highest consumption of fish in the world, with every man, woman and child eating their way through 91.8kg each year. That’s more than 250g (nearly 9 ounces) per day. And here in the UK? A mere 28% of us eat two portions of fish per week.
Fish, particularly the oily variety, is known to confer a huge amount of health benefits for everyone, with studies suggesting it can help with everything from joint pain to depression. But for men in particular it can work wonders on everything from the brain, to sperm through to performance in the gym.
So should all men be eating oily fish in Icelandic proportions? Read our guide to Omega 3 benefits for men to find out.
Is Omega 3 good for men?
The Omega 3 found in oily fish and fish oil supplements is essential when it comes to looking after two important male body parts – the brain and the sexual organs. Rich in the essential fatty acids that make up almost 30% of the weight of your brain, Omega 3 is also needed for healthy sperm, testosterone and libido. Men deficient in DHA are known to produce poor sperm that are less able to fertilise the egg, while those who eat a diet full of oily fish have higher circulating testosterone. Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in allowing more blood flow to the genitals, too.
What are the benefits of fish oil for men?
Healthy sperm, strong muscles, a better libido...the list of fish oil benefits for men go on. Omega 3 fish oil can help with lots of aspects of male health so let’s take a closer look at one of these.
Omega 3 fish oil and male fertility
It’s hard to escape the worrying news headlines about declining levels of male fertility. The average sperm count among men in the West has more than halved in a generation and continues to fall each year according to studies carried out on both sides of the Atlantic.
So could Omega 3 help male fertility?
The DHA in Omega 3 is vital when it comes to sperm and you can only get it through your diet, your body won’t make it on its own. A 2012 study from the University of Illinois found DHA builds the arch that turns a round sperm cell into a pointy-headed super swimmer with an extra long tail. This is vital as the extra long tail gives the the sperm the oomph it needs to penetrate the egg.
But it’s not just your little swimmers that can benefit from a healthy dose of fish oil. Omega 3 can also boost blood flow to the penis helping to maintain an erection. Your penis contains the smallest blood vessels in the body and as they’re so small, they’re one of the first places in the
body to get clogged up. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to boost blood flow to the penis by lowering the inflammation affecting blood flow in the first place.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Omega 3 fatty acids can even help you get in the mood in the first place. DHA and EPA were found to help boost libido by raising the dopamine levels in the brain that trigger arousal.
"Infertility due to male factor ranges from 20% to 70% around the world, it is therefore essential to not just look at female fertility when we're looking at why a couple is struggling to conceive."Sandra Greenbank, FdSc, DipION, mBANT, mIFM
Omega 3 fish oil and male hormones
Omega 3 fish oil also benefits male testosterone. While testosterone levels naturally decline as we age, in some men the decline can be steeper than others, bringing with it distressing symptoms such as low energy, low libido, weight gain and depression. It can also lead to a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However men who eat a diet full of oily fish are known to have higher circulating testosterone.
Omega 3 fish oil and muscle recovery
If your body just doesn’t seem to bounce back after a day at the gym, Omega 3 fish oil can help. Strenuous exercise is known to cause acute levels of increased inflammation, something that the Omega 3 fatty acid EPA has been found to be particularly good at soothing, wherever it occurs in the body.
In a 2011 study, researchers found that taking 3,000mg of Omega 3 decreased severe post-exercise soreness, making it a great option for professional athletes and weekend warriors alike.
Omega 3 fish oil benefits muscle recovery by making its own chemicals that seem to "turn off" inflammation. The body converts EPA into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins, which block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins. So now there’s no excuse not to do an extra 20 press-ups.
Omega 3 fish oil and athletic performance
Reducing post-exercise soreness is not the only reason to take Omega 3 fish oil if you’re an athlete. According to Dr Marc Bubbs, a naturopathic doctor, strength coach and author in Canada, if you’re an athlete or just training intensely, fish oil supplements can be a “game changer” when it comes to increasing your levels of lean muscle.
One study, by the Centre for Human Nutrition, Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine, found that taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement led to a 50% increase in the upregulation of mTOR, which is the genetic signalling pathway that stimulates lean muscle growth.
Omega 3 fish oil and prostate cancer
According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with 130 cases being diagnosed per day.
However there’s a huge amount of research showing the health benefits of Omega 3 fish oil in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Populations with the highest intake of Omega 3 from fish have some of the lowest incidences of the disease. In Japan, for example, the incidence of prostate cancer is 10 times lower than it is in the USA.
Medical research backs this up too. A study in The Lancet studied 6,272 Swedish men over 30 years and found that men who didn’t eat fish increased their risk of prostate cancer by up to three times. And a study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating fish more than three times a week was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.
However, a controversial study in 2013 by Theodore Brasky PhD from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found the opposite, triggering a number of scare stories in the media. The results of the SELECT (selenium and vitamin E cancer prevention) trial have since been dismissed by eminent doctors and scientists. This is because researchers didn’t look at the participants’ diet, and the study showed no causal link between prostate cancer and fish oil or the presence of Omega 3 in the blood.
Omega 3 fish oil and male mental health
When it comes to dealing with male mental health the stakes really are high. Suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, with 84 taking their own lives every week.
Scientists have found that taking Omega 3 fish oil can decrease the symptoms of depression. A study, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that taking a daily dose of fish oil helped people who didn't respond well to antidepressants feel less depressed. It also helped them to sleep. The discovery backs up previous research showing that people with depression often have low levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in their blood.
What fish oil is best for men?
When it comes to supplements the best fish oil for men is one that contains high amounts of both EPA and DHA. That’s because most of the clinical trials that have shown beneficial results had subjects who were taking relatively high, clinical doses each day.
In the case of muscle recovery, for example, men took 3,000mg of EPA and DHA per day. Our Bare Biology clinical strength fish oil has all the essential fatty acids you need to get the full range of Omega 3 male health benefits, with 3,500mg of Omega 3 (2,000mg of EPA, 1,000mg of DHA and 500mg of other Omega 3s) in every single teaspoon.
It’s also guaranteed to contain low amounts of environmental toxins and comes from pure, sustainable and fresh oily fish.
So is Omega 3 fish oil really good for men?
Whether you’re trying to boost your fertility or your performance at the gym, taking Omega 3 fish oil can help - and you don’t have to eat pounds of fish to reap the benefits if you go for a high quality fish oil.
Make sure you choose a brand that is safe and pure, with high levels of EPA and DHA like our Lion Heart Omega 3 fish oil and always check with your doctor first, particularly if you’re on medications such as blood-thinners or aspirin.
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