Fish Oils May Reduce Cortisol Levels

Fish oils have a number of health effects in humans and animals. This relates to the ability of fish to deliver long chain marine fats including eicosapentaenoic acid ((EPA, C20:4m (n-3)) and docosahexaenoic acid ((DHA, C22:6 (n-3)). These long chain fatty acids feed into the essential fatty acids pathways and allow the production of a number of short lived hormone molecules that can regulate cell behaviour. Fish oils may have beneficial effects on cortisol levels although the mechanisms for this are not fully understood. In one study researchers administered 4 grams of fish oil containing 1000 mg of EPA and 800 mg of DHA to healthy male subjects for 6 weeks. The results of the study showed a significant reduction in salivary cortisol levels following the fish oil supplementation. One possible benefit of reducing cortisol levels is an increase in lean mass due to an improved testosterone to cortisol ratio. In this study the men consuming fish oils experienced a reduction in body fat and an increase in lean mass, which supports this hypothesis. 

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Noreen, E. E., Sass, M. J., Crowe, M. L., Pabon, V. A., Brandauer, J. and Averill, L. K. 2010. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 7(1): 1-7

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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