Fish Oil and Iron Supplements

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


What is a Nutritional Supplement?

It's a man-made product, either in pill, capsule, powder, or liquid form. It can supply nutrients obtained from foods or from synthetic sources. Its benefits can be numerous. Here's a brief overview of some of the most common kinds of dietary supplements.

Multivitamins are a great choice to get the essential nutrients you need. These capsules contain the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.

They also aid in the absorption of other essential nutrients. Multivitamins and other dietary supplements are usually taken with meals and fill any gaps or deficiencies you may have in your diet.

They are also useful for maintaining a healthy lifestyle

The most important thing to remember when purchasing a dietary supplement is to avoid buying the wrong kind.

You may end up with a nutrient-rich supplement that has no use in your life.  The FDA classifies dietary supplements as foods, so the ingredients and concentrations are safe and effective for your health.

In the United Kingdom supplements fall within the regulation of 'food law'.

This means the products cannot be misleading and have to be fit for human consumption.

Therefore, if the label says the product containsd certain ingredients, by law it has to contain those ingredients - nothing more or nothing less.  

A dietary supplement label will tell you how much of a certain ingredient each serving provides, which is a crucial piece of information when purchasing a supplement.

Many products on the market are nutrient-dense food items. Some of these include brewer's yeast, bee pollen, royal jelly, fish oil, and psyllium seed husks. Others contain isolated compounds from natural or synthetic sources.

Besides vitamins, some specialty products may also contain antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and animal products.

A well-balanced diet should contain a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil

There are many health benefits of fish oil. Among them is its ability to help with weight loss. Its anti-inflammatory properties are believed to reduce inflammation, which is beneficial for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, fish oil may help lower the risk of heart disease in overweight people. Other benefits of fish oil include lowering serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil help with joint pain and stiffness.

Other health benefits of fish oil include the ability to fight off bacterial and viral infections and improve your immune system.

The omega-3 fatty acids also improve the functioning of your liver, and this is helpful in lowering inflammation. These fatty acids are essential for normal brain function, so they can help treat a number of mental disorders, including depression.

However, it is important to note that fish oil is not a substitute for therapy or medication. 

Another benefit of fish oil is that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death for many Americans.

Studies have shown that people who consume fish regularly are less likely to develop heart disease. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3, which helps increase "good" cholesterol and reduce LDL cholesterol.

It also helps regulate blood pressure and triglycerides. It also prevents the formation of plaque in the arteries, and makes existing plaques more stable. 

The Health Benefits of Iron

Iron is essential for human health. It plays a vital role in the production of hemoglobin, the substance responsible for supplying the body with oxygen. It is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Iron is also present in some plant-based foods, such as dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Iron is also an essential component of red meat.

But, while it is important to consume a diverse diet rich in animal-based foods, it is often difficult to get enough iron in a vegetarian diet.

The main role of iron in the human body is energy metabolism, immune health, and gastrointestinal processes.

In addition to this, iron helps produce hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells, and myoglobin, which is a protein found in muscle tissue. Both of these proteins are necessary for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Iron is absorbed and utilized in the body through the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.

However, certain gut conditions can interfere with the absorption of iron, so it is necessary to maintain proper iron levels.

It is important to remember that iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach. Milk, caffeine, antacids, or calcium supplements can prevent your body from properly absorbing iron.

Vitamin C is important for iron absorption, so it is important to take vitamin C alongside iron supplements. Try some organge juice or when you are eating a salad with tomatoes. 

There are two types of iron: Heme and non-heme iron.  

What is heme and non-heme Iron?

More than half the population of the world has hemoglobin deficiencies, and you might even be deficient in haem.

Haem is the precursor to hemoglobin, the red protein that binds oxygen in the bloodstream. Hem is synthesized in the liver and bone marrow, and is essential for red blood cell production.

Heme iron can be found in meat and fish, which makes it easily absorbed by the body. Nonheme iron, on the other hand, is found in plants.

These iron supplements tend to have more iron and require vitamin C in order to be absorbed by the body. 

The key to finding the best iron supplement for you is knowing the differences between heme and nonheme iron. While elemental iron is the most easily absorbed form of iron, heme iron is better absorbed by the body.

It's important to remember that iron absorption varies from type to type, and timing of intake is essential. 

The Benefits of Iron and Vitamin A Hormonal Therapy

Symptoms of anemia may include heart disease, high blood pressure, and even liver cirrhosis.

Fortunately, the combination of these two nutrients can lead to many positive effects.

For example, taking a vitamin A supplement and iron supplement before going through the hormone therapy process can help children with constitutional delay in growth and puberty (CDGP) reach puberty.

It can also help to improve symptoms like shortness of breath, feeling cold all the time, and lack of energy. However, iron supplements should only be used if there is an actual deficiency and in combination with other vitamin therapy.

A combination of vitamin A and iron may be as effective as hormone therapy for boys with CDGP. Compared to healthy children, CDGP patients have lower vitamin A levels.

Vitamin A deficiency can delay puberty and slow growth. Iron helps in the production of growth hormones and may enhance the effect of vitamin A in certain conditions. The two supplements may also improve men's overall health and help treat other health conditions.

Unwanted Side Effects of too much Iron

Too much iron is associated with numerous unwanted side effects, from skin discoloration to liver damage, and even death.

Iron overload can even damage your heart, liver, pancreas, and endocrine glands. Regardless of the causes, it's important to be aware of the dangers of iron toxicity.

The symptoms of iron toxicity are quite severe, and can appear over a period of 12 hours to several weeks.

Some of the most serious are seizure, blood sugar decrease, fever, and liver damage. Some people may also experience bleeding and jaundice. Iron buildup may also lead to blockage of the digestive tract, resulting in scarring.

Therefore iron supplements should be used by those who train hard and are at a higher level of nutrient turnover such as athletes and those in the military.

In extreme cases, excess iron can lead to hemochromatosis, an inherited disorder that affects the body's ability to properly process the iron in the body. It has also been linked to the production of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the digestive tract.

Symptoms of iron toxicity vary from person to person, but in severe cases, hospitalization is required.

While vomiting will not completely empty the stomach of iron, it can cause the body to retain it in tissues. Deferoxamine, a chemical that binds with iron in the blood, then allows the iron to pass into the urine.

All cases of iron toxicity should be reported to a poison control center.

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Fish Oil and Testicular Function

Studies of fish oil and testicular function show that a small increase in dietary omega-3 can affect testicular function.

Although the findings are preliminary, the results indicate that fish oil supplements improve testicular function in men without infertility.

The Danish study suggests that dietary supplementation with fish oil may improve testicular function in young men.

Researchers measured the sperm count and semen quality of participants and found that fish oil supplementation increased testicular size and sperm count. The researchers also found that fish oil supplementation improved the profile of two hormones related to sperm production. 

In addition to this, the study was well-conducted, though there are still some caveats. The study included only healthy men, so it can't be said to have excluded other health conditions that might have affected sperm quality.

The researchers did not control the men's diets, so they couldn't be certain how much fish they consumed. Moreover, the study is not a randomized controlled trial, which would be necessary to confirm causality.

Is too much Fat Unhealthy?

Fish oil is a fat/oil that has been extracted from the tissues of a fish. It is a polyunsaturated fat called omega-3. 

Generlly speaking, polyunsaturated fats are considered 'healthy' forms of fat, but it is still a fat which means it is very high calorie and if consumed in excess it will lead to weight gain.

However, lots of fats found in Western diets are called saturated fats, and are found in fried foods such as fries and potato chips.

You should try to keep saturated fat to no more than 10% of your calorie intake, and totoal fat shouldn't exceed 30% of your calorie intake. While fat is a necessary nutrient for your body, it can also be harmful when consumed in excess. 

Saturated fats are particularly harmful, and should be avoided altogether, you should limit your intake of fast foods and highly processed foods. 

Studies have linked too much saturated fat to coronary heart disease and stroke. 

Can Iron be supplemented with Fish Oil?

In short, yes. 

There's aren't any adverse reactions related to taking both together. 

Does fish oil increase iron absorption?

Furthermore, this 2003 research paper notes that high levels of inflammation reduce iron absorption and oils rish in omega 3 help reduce inflammation. Therefore, based on these findings, taking both fish oil and iron appears to compliment eachother. 

Heart failure and iron

Iron deficiency is very common in heart failure patients. Research suggests that fish oil should be used by patients who are suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart failure due to its cardioprotective qualities. 

Child cognitive abilities

A trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition monitored the effects of fish oil and iron supplementation on children's cognitive abilities and anthropometic measurements.

Iron and fish oil supplementation improved the height/weight ratio of those suffering from iron deficiency and poor fatty acid status. 

Sole iron supplementation improved cognitive function in those suffering from an iron deficiency. Males did benefit from fatty acid supplementation more than females


A 2015 study looked at the benefits of iron and omega 3 supplementation for pregnant women who commonly suffer from anaemia. 

The study concluded that a fish oil beverage could limit an iron deficiency in the mother and prevent the adverse effects of an iron deficiency of the new born child.


Fish oil and iron supplements are complimentary to help treat those suffering from iron deficiency aneamia. 

Regular consumption of fish oil or oily fish is a great way to help prevent inflammation and cardiovascular risk. It has been identified that iron deficiency is common amongst heart failure patients and that high inflammation can be a contributing cause. 

There doesn't appear to be any adverse reactions supplementing the two nutrients, but only supplement iron if you are at risk of a deficiency such as a female athlete or anyone else subject to high levels of nutrient turonover. 


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