In the past 10 years, many Americans have turned to omega-3 fish oil supplements, which have benefits for healthy people and also those with heart disease.
Omega-3 fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
These long-chained fatty acids have been shown to have many positive effects. As a part of the cell membranes, fatty acids help form a physical barrier to keep out viruses, bacteria and other foreign molecules. They also regulate the traffic of substances in and out of the cells.
Because Americans tend to eat a lot of processed foods that are higher in omega-6 fatty acids, nature’s balance is upset. The typical American diet provides low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and this has been linked to the increase in many of today’s common chronic diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are important in preventing and managing heart disease.
Findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce triglycerides
- Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
- Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythmReduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
- Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.
The health benefits of fish oil include its ability to aid in weight loss, healthy pregnancy, fertility and skin care (particularly for psoriasis and acne). It is also beneficial in the treatment of various heart diseases, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, ADHD, weak immune system, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, IBD, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, macular degeneration, and ulcers.
EPA and DHA are found in mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, sable fish (black cod), anchovies, albacore tuna and wild game. Two to three fish servings per week are suggested.
Cod liver oil contains large amounts of EPA and DHA. To a very limited extent, omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable sources, such as flaxseed oil, can convert to EPA.
There are also EPA and DHA fortified foods such as eggs, margarine, milk, yogurt and bread, but make sure you check the label.
The heart-healthy benefits of regular doses of fish oil supplements are unclear, so talk to your doctor to see if they’re right for you. If you have heart disease or high triglyceride levels, you may need even more omega-3 fatty acids. Ask your doctor if you should take higher doses of fish oil supplements to get the omega-3s you need.
How much omega-3 fish oil is safe?
The AHA says taking up to 3 grams of fish oil daily in supplement form is considered safe. Don’t take more than that unless you discuss it with your doctor first.
Are there side effects with omega-3 fish oil?
Side effects from omega-3 fish oil may include:
- A fishy taste in your mouth
- Fishy breath
- Stomach upset
- Loose stools
- Taking more than 3 grams of fish oil daily may increase the risk of bleeding.
If you want to take higher doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can guide you in supplementing your diet with omega-3 fish oil. Also, your doctor can monitor all aspects of your health if you take higher doses of fish oil. For people with very high triglyceride levels, prescription omega-3 preparations are also available.
h/t: holisticlivingtips.com/2015/04/30/health-benefits-of-fish-oil/ ; webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-for-high-blood-pressure