Can fish oil boost testosterone levels? (Or another unproven claim?)

Nearly everyone I know has or is taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil seems to be promoted as a the solution for every problem under the sun. It is even promoted as a testosterone booster.

What most people don’t know is just because fish oil supplements are popular doesn’t mean they work. Officially Omega-3 fatty acid supplements were thought to deliver the same cancer-fighting, heart-saving, brain-preserving, T boosting benefits as real fish—but without fish breath.

Fish oil  products actually outrank herbal supplements in popularity among American men. What people tend to forget is Fish oils, like any nutritional supplement, are not regulated by the FDA the way prescription drugs are, so you can never be quite sure of what you’re getting.

Studies show that generally healthy people who eat more fish and have good blood levels of omega-3s have a lower risk of fatal heart disease. By consuming healthy levels of omega 3 you may experience several benefits: improved heart rate, enhanced blood vessel function, and greater oxygen flow to the heart itself. So eating actual fish and reall sources of omega 3 will always be the superior option.

The fishy studies

When you look at the entirety of omega-3 research, one thing sticks out: Most of the data on the benefits of omega-3s came from studies that looked at consumption of fish, not fish oil supplements. Only recently have the supplements been studied in a more comprehensive way, and the results raise worrisome questions.

Scientists speculate that in the production process, fish oil may become exposed to the air. This exposure can result in oxidization, reducing the total EPA and DHA concentration of the oil. In fact, some liquid gels contain additional flavorings meant to mask the telltale rancid odor of oxidized fish oil, according to a 2014 report published by Consumer Lab.

Researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Newcastle found that only three out of 32 fish oil supplements tested contained amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that were equal to or higher than the amount claimed on the label. Half of those 32 supplements came from Australia.

Only three out of 32 fish oil supplements lived up to their claims

The Journal of the American Medical Association  researched the cognitive effects of fish oil supplements. Over the course of five years, the researchers monitored the cognitive function of 4,000 people. A third of them were given an omega-3 supplement. A third were given a supplement full of nutrients found in leafy vegetables, and a third were given a placebo. The results were underwhelming.

“Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t see any benefit of omega-3 supplements for stopping cognitive decline,” said Dr. Emily Chew, who led the study. This, despite the fact that some other studies and advertising at GNC argue otherwise. Chew also made a distinction between the supplements and real food. “We’ve seen data that eating foods with omega-3 may have a benefit for eye, brain, and heart health,” she said.

So how did fish oil get so popular?

10 and 20 years ago there were studies conducted on fish oil supplements that established fish oil’s cardiovascular benefits. But the interesting part is researchers didn’t include a placebo controlled group. And the placebo effect, of seeing a benefit simply because the patient thinks there will be one, can be very powerful. Placebo-controlled trials since then have cast doubt on results of the first two studies.

According to this study Fish oil may actually have no impact on your testosterone levels.

In summary

If you are looking to boost your testosterone levels you should save your money and avoid fish oil products and instead put the extra effort in and consume actual fish.  Plus, fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s lower in calories than many other protein-rich foods. Fish is more than just omega-3s, It also contains testosterone boosting  zinc, amino acids, and vitamin D.

So when someone recommends you to take fish oil to help boost T levels just do your body a favor and purchase some real fish instead.