- Omega-3 Fatty Acids Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database
- Adverse Reactions
- Uses and Pharmacology
- Fool’s gold: what fish oil is doing to our health and the planet
- Fish oils and omega-3 oils: Benefits, foods, and risks
- Multiple sclerosis
- Prostate cancer
- Post-partum depression
- Mental health benefits
- Memory benefits
- Heart and cardiovascular benefits
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vision loss
- Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
- Health fetal development
- Fish Oil Dosage: How Much Fish Oil Do You Need?
- FISH OIL DOSAGE TIP: 1,000 mg of Omega-3 and 1,000 mg of Fish Oil are not the same!
- Is Fish Oil Good for Your Health? What the Studies Show
- Enter the Fish Oil Rx
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 23, 2018.
Common Name(s): Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Fish Oils, LCPUFAs, Long-chain PUFAs, Lovaza, Marine oil fatty acids, Marine oils, N-3 fatty acids, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, PUFAs
Clinical benefit is strongest for lowering the risk of coronary artery disease and decreasing serum triglycerides. Reductions in the risk for all-cause mortality, cardiac death, and sudden death have been established for omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for at least 1 year's duration.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of fish oil for reducing very high triglyceridemia (at least 500 mg/dL [5.65 mmol/L]) in adults as an adjunct to diet. Evidence for use of parenteral fish oil lipid emulsion is mounting in severely ill and surgical patients.
Evidence for a role in rheumatoid arthritis remains equivocal but promising. No consistent relationship between fish oil consumption and reduction in the risk of stroke or maintenance in inflammatory bowel disease has been established.
Other areas of interest in the therapeutic use of fish oils requiring further study include asthma and allergy, dysmenorrhea, mental health, and the promotion of postnatal growth and development.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a minimum of 2 fatty fish meals per week.
Clinical trials suggest fish oil supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids 1 g/day in coronary heart disease, and when triglycerides are elevated, a minimum of omega-3 fatty acids 2 g/day up to a maximum of 4 g/day.
Fish oil 1,000 mg approximates to omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]/docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) 300 to 400 mg.
Contraindicated in individuals with active bleeding (eg, peptic ulcer, intracranial bleeding).
Potential for mercury ingestion. Eat fish lower in mercury and avoid consumption of high-mercury containing fish, such as tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, king mackerel, and shark.
The anticoagulant effect of anticoagulant medications (including warfarin), may be increased by fish oil ingestion; although, case reports are limited.
Fish oil at dosages of EPA/DHA 2 to 5.4 g/day is well accepted and tolerated. Mild GI discomfort was reported in clinical trials.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of plants and animals with the highest concentration occurring in marine-based sources. EPA and DHA are found in trace amounts in beef.
Grass-fed beef can have up to a 25% increase in the percentage of total polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef.
Additionally, a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, is also found in grass-fed cattle than grain-fed comparators.199 EPA and DHA can be synthesized, albeit inefficiently, from the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA cannot be synthesized by humans and must be obtained from the diet. ALA is found in flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnut, and wheat germ oils, nuts and seeds, and vegetables. Additionally, DHA can be synthesized from EPA.1, 2, 3
Fish oils are predominantly comprised of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA; “fish oil” is a term frequently used interchangeably with, and in reference to, EPA and DHA.
Marine sources containing the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish (eg, mackerel, halibut, salmon, bluefish, mullet, sablefish, menhaden, anchovy, herring, lake trout, coho, sardines), which provide 1 g or more of omega fatty acids per 100 g (3.
5 oz) of fish. Tuna, seal, and shellfish (eg, oysters) are additional marine-based sources.1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Because marine fish stocks are limited and because many fish stocks are currently contaminated by pollutants (eg, methylmercury, organochlorine pesticides), it has been proposed that the algal genes responsible for EPA and DHA production be cloned into plants.6, 7 Oils from transgenic plants would be rich in EPA and DHA, and although some success has been achieved, challenges in the biosynthetic pathways in higher plants have not yet been surmounted.8, 9
Most uses of fish oils have been the beneficial effects of EPA and DHA, specifically those related to cardiovascular, inflammatory, neural, and hormonal support.
Interest in possible health benefits followed observations that populations with a high dietary intake of fish, such as Eskimo and Inuit populations, had low incidences of atherosclerotic and thrombotic disorders and inflammatory conditions.
10, 11 In 1789, a publication described the beneficial effects of cod liver oil in rheumatism, and in 1824 the same oil was reported effective in the prevention of rickets.12 Historically, deficiencies were noted in infants fed non- or low-fat diets and in patients receiving long-term (eg, 2 to 3 weeks) parenteral nutritional formulations lacking polyunsaturated fatty acids.2, 3
EPA and DHA are omega-3, long-chain (20 carbons or more) PUFAs. EPA consists of a 20-carbon chain with 5 double bonds (20:5), while DHA is a 22-carbon chain with 6 double bonds (20:6). As represented by the omega-3 nomenclature, the first double bond is located at the third carbon from the methyl group (omega) end of the chain.
2, 3 C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance pattern recognition has been used to analyze the species of fish from which commercial fish oil products are derived.13 Homogenization of fish oils into milk has been explored.14 Challenges for the incorporation of fish oils into other foodstuffs include the propensity of EPA and DHA to oxidize, as well as their unpleasant tastes and smells.
Thus, oil-filled capsules are the current preferred supplement product.
Uses and Pharmacology
Omega-3 fatty acids are metabolized into eicosanoids, which have important physiologic properties and include prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. Eicosanoids are potent regulators of blood pressure, blood clotting, childbirth, and gastric secretions, as well as immune and inflammatory responses.
The actual location of the double bond in the fatty acid chain affects its metabolism such that the structure and function of omega-3–derived eicosanoids differ from those derived from omega-6 fatty acids (eg, arachidonic acid). For example, omega-3–derived eicosanoids tend to decrease blood clotting and inflammatory responses.
This contrasts with the arachidonic acid (omega-6)–derived eicosanoids, which increase clotting and inflammatory responses.2, 3, 15
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 261 healthy adults received fish oil supplementation (EPA + DHA 1,400 mg) or placebo for 18 weeks to determine the effects on biomarkers of chronic, systemic inflammation.
This dose of fish oil had no effect on serum c-reactive protein or IL-6 concentrations with no evidence of heterogeneity found gender, body mass index, baseline IL-6, or post-supplementation red blood cell EPA+DHA.
Side effects associated with the intervention included fishy belch or aftertaste, loose stool, and bloating or gas pains; no serious adverse events were reported.175
Omega-3 fatty acids may be effective for managing pruritus in uremic patients according to a 2016 updated Cochrane systematic review of pharmacological interventions for pruritus in adult palliative care.
An additional 10 studies with 627 participants were identified since the previous 2013 review with 1 new study that investigated omega-3 fatty acids.
In this double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial that enrolled 22 patients with end-stage renal disease, 3 g/day of omega-3s (1 g of omega-3s as EPA 180 mg and DHA 120 mg given 3 times daily) was given orally over 20 days with a 14-day washout prior to crossing over.
Pruritus decreased from baseline by 65% with fish oil compared to 15% with placebo. Although the difference was statistically significant, the sample size was small and the study was of low methodological quality.189
Studies in animals have demonstrated pro- and anti-arrhythmic properties of fish oil.24, 25 In experimental arrhythmias, fish oil prevented arrhythmias related to ischemia, but not to reperfusion injury.24
Reviews have examined the utility of fish oils in treating arrhythmias. The mechanism of protection is not well understood, and some classes of patients may not benefit.
26, 27, 28 A meta-analysis of all studies up to the year 2008 for ventricular arrhythmias found only a trend of a protective effect of fish oil on time to first ventricular fibrillation. Dosages used in the included trials ranged from fish oil 900 to 2,600 mg.
29, 30 A further meta-analysis found a nonsignificant reduction in the primary outcome of arrhythmias or death from all causes. For the secondary outcome of death from cardiac causes, a reduction was found.
31 Results from the 2003 Diet and Angina Randomized Trial (DART-2) found an increase in death in patients with angina pectoris, and in patients with implanted cardioverter defibrillators, no overall effect on the risk of discharge has been found, possibly because of the potential for fish oil to exhibit pro-arrhythmic properties.25, 32
Two meta-analysis evaluating fish oil’s impact on atrial fibrillation (AF) have been published. One pooled data from studies of perioperative fish oil administration on the incidence of postoperative AF.
The sum of the evidence from 8 studies (n = 2687) was that fish oil did not significantly reduce the incidence of postoperative AF, length of hospital stay or intensive care unit (ICU) days, postoperative mortality, or major bleeding.
Additional analysis found that studies using fish oil with DHA doses more than 1 g/day did have a significantly lower incidence of postoperative AF, and length of hospital stay.
147 The other meta-analysis looked at the incidence of AF recurrence (8 studies, n = 1990) in adult patients undergoing cardioversion or with symptomatic persistent/paroxysmal AF in sinus rhythm. There was no significant reduction in incidence of AF recurrence with fish oil compared with placebo with data from all 8 studies.
Subsequent analysis showed that when data from the 3 studies that initiated fish oil at least 4 weeks prior to cardioversion was pooled, a significant reduction in AF recurrence was seen with fish oil versus control. And pooling of data from the 5 studies that did not initiate fish oil at least 4 weeks prior to cardioversion found that fish oil significantly increased the incidence of AF recrurrence.148
To date, clinical benefit of fish oil in asthma is controversial.10, 16 Omega-3 fatty acids do not have an effect on eosinophils and mast cells, which may explain a relative lack of efficacy in this inflammatory condition.10 The role of other constituents in fish oil is unknown.
Limited evidence exists of an effect of fish oils on exercise-induced asthma.17 A potential for an enteral nutritional formula containing EPA plus gamma-linolenic acid as adjuvant therapy in the clinical management of acute respiratory distress syndrome has been suggested.
18 Use of fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding to reduce the incidence of food allergy in infants has also been evaluated; however, maternal fish oil supplementation during pregnancy did not reduce risk of allergic disease from birth up to 3 years of life in children with a hereditary risk.
19, 159 In contrast to these results, the risk of persistent wheeze or asthma was reduced by a third in children (from birth to between 3 and 5 years of age) born of women who received 2.4 g/day of n3-LCPUFA.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 736 pregnant women, 647 children were followed from birth to 5 years of age. This beneficial effect was found to be strongest in mothers with baseline EPA and DHA blood levels of 5% to 5.5%, whose pre-trial dietary intake of EPA and DHA was in the lowest third (
Fool’s gold: what fish oil is doing to our health and the planet
The omega-3 industry is in a twist. Again.
Last week, Cochrane, an organisation that compiles and evaluates medical research for the general public, released a meta-analysis – a study of studies – to determine whether or not omega-3 pills, one of the world’s most popular dietary supplements, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. After comparing 79 trials involving 112,059 people, the researchers could find “little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities”.
I can’t say that I was particularly surprised. Over the past 15 years, more than 20 studies have shown a similar lack of effect.
But what does surprise me is how we continue to look at the world of fish and seafood through the amber lens of a fish oil capsule. Omega-3s do something in our bodies – and probably something important.
But without the larger context of the marine organisms that contain them, omega-3s get lost in the noise of human metabolism and modern marketing.
The confusion arises in part from the historical baggage of fish oil and the $30bn (£23bn) industry associated with omega-3 extraction. Once upon a time, fish oil solved a major human health problem. But it had nothing to do with coronary heart disease. During the Industrial Revolution, a disease became increasingly prevalent throughout northern Europe: rickets.
Malnourished children in sunlight-poor urban slums often ended up bowlegged by adolescence. Researchers eventually pieced the puzzle together and concluded that the disease was caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, which the body naturally generates in the presence of sunlight. And, as it turned out, vitamin D is stored in high amounts within the liver of codfish.
A Norwegian pharmacist named Peter Möller seized upon this finding (and many other anecdotal stories about the curative properties of cod-liver oil). Using a patented chemical process, he arrived at a product that, he announced to the world, “didn’t taste fishy”.
Möller and his advertising team then launched a campaign to institutionalise the regular use of cod-liver oil, regardless of whether you were at risk of rickets or not. The campaign was a success: a spoonful a day became common practice.
Möller built his company into an international presence and died in 1869 with 70 cod-liver oil steam factories to his name, churning out 5,000 barrels of the stuff a year. By the time omega-3s started to be a focus of medical research, there was already a rosy feeling around fish oil.
In the early 1970s, the chemist Hans Olaf Bang read in a Danish journal that there were extremely low incidences of cardiovascular disease in Inuit communities of Greenland.
He and his assistant, Jørn Dyerberg, travelled to Uummannaq on the north-west coast of Greenland to investigate. At the time of the expedition, Bang didn’t quite know what he wanted to test for.
They probed and palpated 130 local people, measured height and weight, and came home with a lot of blood.
“We had these 130 precious samples of blood,” Dyerberg told me in his lab in Copenhagen recently. They estimated that in 20 years, the traditional Inuit diet would have changed to the western diet, and Dyerberg remembers Bang saying: “‘There will never be anyone who can do this again, so let’s do whatever we can!’ And we decided to do fatty acid analysis.”
The result of their analysis was a hypothesis that is an exemplary “association study”. In an association study, multiple factors are logged and a hypothesis of correlation is drawn from the findings.
In the case of the Bang and Dyerberg Inuit study, they found that: 1) Inuit people in Greenland had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and blood lipid levels of omega-3s much higher than their western contemporaries.
2) Inuit people also had, according to public health records, markedly lower rates of coronary heart disease. They hypothesised that therefore 3) omega-3s might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
This was backed up by further laboratory studies that did show, in vitro, that omega-3s were involved in anti-inflammatory reactions. But – and this is a big but – while correlations abound for omega-3s and heart disease, the real trouble has always been in showing causation. That is where this latest round of studies comes in.
The Cochrane study and the others that preceded it have one thing in common: they are meta-analyses of “randomised control trials” (RCTs). That is, trials where patients are given a supplement at random and tracked over time against another set of patients given a placebo.
Most statisticians consider these trials to be the very top of the evidence pyramid. But it is these studies that have at times proven troublesome for Omega World.
Each time RCTs come to light that show little or no effect, Omega World tends to blend its counterargument with evidence from association studies because, as a recent industry reply to the Cochrane report put it, “it’s all connected”.
When it then turns to the RCTs, the industry, as would be expected, looks for different explanations as to why positive health outcomes weren’t reported.
In the burst of RCTs preceding Cochrane, the Omega World line was that these most recent trials did not show benefits because things such as statins, stents and other forms of cardiovascular intervention masked the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil pills; earlier RCTs had shown a fairly significant effect, but none of those treatments existed at the time of those trials.
The industry also, and I believe rightly, pointed out that studies often failed to look at omega-3 blood lipid levels before and after supplementation.
In other words, it’s not really a fair trial if you don’t know where the patients started with respect to the omega-3 levels in their blood.
If we only measure effect without looking at omega-3 levels in the blood at the outset, aren’t we doing the dietary equivalent of testing how far a car can drive without checking how much petrol is in the tank at the start?
With Cochrane, the latest industry argument is that the study’s authors cut out a number of different forms of cardiac ailments, thus skewing the stats.
In particular, it notes that Cochrane failed to include “sudden cardiac death” and “sudden cardiac mortality” in its list of outcomes.
Since nearly half of all patients first report heart disease to their doctors by suddenly dropping dead, this is not an insignificant exclusion.
But the fact that the industry’s arguments shift with each new, damning meta-analysis gives you pause.
What is going on? Is there an international conspiracy to discredit omega-3s? Or does Omega World keep moving the goalposts? When I posed this question to Ellen Schutt, the executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, probably the world’s most prominent omega-3 advocacy organisation, she made it seem as if the problem didn’t even exist. “As a matter of fact, we track media sentiment … and have found many more positive omega-3 stories than negative, in general. Of course, the negative stories are the ones that catch people’s attention. As we both know, negative stories are much more interesting and the media is definitely guilty of sensationalist ‘clickbait’ headlines such as: ‘Omega-3s don’t work.’”
As sympathetic as I am to the trials of Omega World, as studies continue to poke holes in aspects of the omega-3 cardiovascular argument, I can’t help thinking there is something else going on.
Because, while the fish oil supplement business is a big deal, it is also a sheen on the surface of a much deeper pond.
Long before omega-3 supplements became popular, an industry arose that used the same omega-3-rich creatures not for medicine, but for an odd array of agricultural and industrial purposes.
Ultimately, it was this so-called “reduction industry” that created the oily-fish extraction system that now consumes millions of tonnes of marine wildlife every year. Today, one in every four kilograms of fish caught is reduced into oil and meal and used for agriculture, land animal husbandry and, most recently, fish farming, AKA aquaculture.
The reduction industry has appeared in different forms under different ownership over centuries of human history.
In the 18th century, it targeted whales, reducing northern hemisphere cetacean populations into isolated pockets of endangered species in order to make lamp oil and lubricants.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it shifted to the southern hemisphere, reducing 390,000 of the 400,000 great whales that once roamed the Southern Ocean to margarine, nitroglycerine and other “marine ingredients”.
In the latter half of the 20th century, it shifted again and targeted small, oily fish such as anchovies, sardines and herring. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the largest reduction operation in human history arose off the coast of Peru in pursuit of the Peruvian anchoveta.
The Peruvian anchoveta is by far the largest single species catch by tonnage in the world, some years comprising as much as 10% of all fish caught.
And although Peruvian anchoveta are as delicious as any anchovy on Earth, an industry-influenced Peruvian law dictates that more than 95% of the catch must go to the reduction industry.
Each decade brings a different use for all those anchovies. In the 1940s, they were used for fertiliser. In the 50s and 60s, chicken feed. In the 70s, pet food and pig feed. In the 80s and 90s, aquafeed for salmon and other carnivorous fish. And now, the most elite product of the reduction industry: dietary supplements.
And it is not just Peruvian anchoveta that are reduced into fish meal and oil.
All told, the reduction industry removes from the ocean 20m-25m tonnes annually – the equivalent of the combined weight of the population of the United States.
The omega-3 industry argues that some vendors are turning to much more sustainable options, such as algae-based omega-3s and fish oil reclaimed from recycled byproducts.
Nevertheless, the reduction industry marches on into new territory. Most recently, it has begun targeting Antarctic krill, the keystone prey species of the entire Antarctic ecosystem.
Two years ago, when I asked the then chief executive of the largest krill extractor in the world why it had launched a $200m fishing operation in the Southern Ocean to take food the mouths of whales, he noted that krill oil is a “phospholipid” and making it much more “bioavailable” means that consumers can take a much smaller pill. Why was this important? Consumers who chose krill oil over fish oil would be much less ly to suffer the horrors of a fishy burp.
Amid all the conflicting reports, there is one bit of data that shines out: fish and seafood can bring considerable health and environmental benefits. Fish, in addition to providing us with omega-3s, delivers protein with far fewer calories than meat: 100g of salmon contains 139 calories and 23g of protein. By comparison, 100g of beef contains 210 calories and 20g of protein.
Harvesting wild fish from well-managed stocks requires a fraction of the carbon as farming terrestrial livestock. Similarly, fish farming puts a lesser burden on the Earth in terms of carbon and freshwater use than pretty much any form of terrestrial animal husbandry.
We could make the farming of fish even more carbon- and resource-efficient if we used alternative ingredients for fish food algae and food waste. And if you consider growing “filter feeders” such as mussels, clams and oysters, the benefits are even more extreme.
These bivalves don’t have to be fed anything, and make water cleaner even as they grow fatter. They provide protein 30 times more efficiently than cattle.
Is the epidemiological evidence for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill? Again, we are stuck with the problem of correlation versus causation. It is very difficult to feed someone a fish in such a manner that they don’t know they are eating a fish.
Hence an RCT of seafood-eating hasn’t really ever been done. Most of the studies around seafood are association studies.
And, while one such study associated eating fish twice a week with a possible reduction in mortality of 55,000 lives a year, we don’t know what a fish-eater does with the rest of their life beyond eating fish.
But what we do know is this: the omega-3 industry and the reduction industry that bred it removes fish from the water in a way that doesn’t put protein on our plates – it just puts pills in our cupboards. Is this the way we want to continue to do business with the planet?
Paul Greenberg is the author of The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet (Penguin Press).
• The subheading of this article was amended on 25 July 2018 to clarify that it was for heart health or strokes that the study found omega-3 had little or no benefit.
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Fish oils and omega-3 oils: Benefits, foods, and risks
Fish oils come from fatty or oily fish, such as trout, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, and salmon. They contain omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D.
Fish-oil and omega-3 supplements are popular because they are believed to have health benefits. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend eating oily fish to promote heart health. However, studies have produced mixed results.
In 2012, a National Health Survey found that around 7.8 percent of adults in the United States (U.S.), or 18.8 million people, and 1.1 percent of children aged 4 to 17 years, had taken a fish oil supplement in the previous 30 days.
- Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart and offer other health benefits, but research results have been mixed.
- Eating fish is a better way of getting fish oil or omega 3 than taking supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats commonly found in plants and marine life.
Two types are plentiful in oily fish:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): The best-known omega-3 fatty acid, EPA helps the body synthesize chemicals involved in blood clotting and inflammation (prostaglandin-3, thromboxane-2, and leukotriene-5). Fish obtain EPA from the algae that they eat.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): In humans, this omega-3 fatty acid is a key part of sperm, the retina, a part of the eye, and the cerebral cortex, a part of the brain.
DHA is present throughout the body, especially in the brain, the eyes and the heart. It is also present in breast milk.
Some studies have concluded that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid is beneficial for health, but others have not. It has been linked to a number of conditions.
Fish oils are said to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) due to its protective effects on the brain and the nervous system. However, at least one study concluded that they have no benefit.
One study found that fish oils, alongside a low-fat diet, may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, another study linked higher omega-3 levels to a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that a high fish oil intake raises the risk of high-grade prostate cancer by 71 percent, and all prostate cancers by 43 percent.
Consuming fish oils during pregnancy may reduce the risk of post-partum depression. Researchers advise that eating fish with a high level of omega 3 two or three times a week may be beneficial. Food sources are recommended, rather than supplements, as they also provide protein and minerals.
Mental health benefits
An 8-week pilot study carried out in 2007 suggested that fish oils may help young people with behavioral problems, especially those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The study demonstrated that children who consumed between 8 and 16 grams (g) of EPA and DHA per day, showed significant improvements in their behavior, as rated by their parents and the psychiatrist working with them.
Omega-3 fatty acid intake can help improve working memory in healthy young adults, according to research reported in the journal PLoS One.
However, another study indicated that high levels of omega-3 do not prevent cognitive decline in older women.
Heart and cardiovascular benefits
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart during times of mental stress.
Findings published in the American Journal of Physiology suggested that people who took fish oil supplements for longer than 1 month had better cardiovascular function during mentally stressful tests.
In 2012, researchers noted that fish oil, through its anti-inflammatory properties, appears to help stabilize atherosclerotic lesions.
Meanwhile, a review of 20 studies involving almost 70,000 people, found “no compelling evidence” linking fish oil supplements to a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or early death.
People with stents in their heart who took two blood-thinning drugs as well as omega-3 fatty acids were found in one study to have a lower risk of heart attack compared with those not taking fish oils.
The AHA recommend eating fish, and especially oily fish, at least twice a week, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
For many years, it was thought that regular fish oil consumption may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. However, a major study in 2010 found that fish oils were no better than a placebo at preventing Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, a study published in Neurology in 2007 reported that a diet high in fish, omega-3 oils, fruit, and vegetables reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Adequate dietary consumption of DHA protects people from age-related vision loss, Canadian researchers reported in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry claims that people with epilepsy could have fewer seizures if they consumed low doses of omega-3 fish oil every day.
Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help reduce the risk of psychosis.
Findings published in Nature Communications details how a 12-week intervention with omega-3 supplements substantially reduced the long-term risk of developing psychotic disorders.
Health fetal development
Omega-3 consumption may help boost fetal cognitive and motor development. In 2008, scientists found that omega-3 consumption during the last 3 months of pregnancy may improve sensory, cognitive, and motor development in the fetus.
The fillets of oily fish contain up to 30 percent oil, but this figure varies. White fish, such as cod, contains high concentrations of oil in the liver but less oil overall. Oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include anchovies, herring, sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel.
Other animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids are eggs, especially those with “high in omega-3” written on the shell.
Vegetable-based alternatives to fish oil for omega 3 include:
Share on PinterestFish is not the only food source of omega-3 oils.
- perilla oil
- chia seeds
- radish seeds, sprouted raw
- fresh basil
- leafy dark green vegetables, such as spinach
- dried tarragon
A person who consumes a healthful, balanced diet should not need to use supplements.
Taking fish oils, fish liver oils, and omega 3 supplements may pose a risk for some people.
- Omega 3 supplements may affect blood clotting and interfere with drugs that target blood-clotting conditions.
- They can sometimes trigger side effects, normally minor gastrointestinal problems such as belching, indigestion, or diarrhea.
- Fish liver oils contain high levels of vitamins A and D. Too much of these can be poisonous.
- Those with a shellfish or fish allergy may be at risk if they consume fish oil supplements.
- Consuming high levels of oily fish also increases the chance of poisoning from pollutants in the ocean.
It is important to note that the FDA does not regulate quality or purity of supplements. Buy from a reputable source and whenever possible take in Omega 3 from a natural source.
The AHA recommend shrimp, light canned tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish as being low in mercury. They advise avoiding shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, as these can be high in mercury.
It remains unclear whether consuming more fish oil and omega 3 will bring health benefits, but a diet that offers a variety of nutrients is ly to be healthful.
Anyone who is considering supplements should first check with a health care provider.
Fish Oil Dosage: How Much Fish Oil Do You Need?
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If your bottle of fish oil says 1,000 mg on the front, don’t relax just yet! That’s the weight of the capsule, NOT the Omega-3 in it.
FISH OIL DOSAGE TIP: 1,000 mg of Omega-3 and 1,000 mg of Fish Oil are not the same!
Typically 1000 mg of regular fish oil has just 300 mg of Omega-3. 300 mg is JUST ENOUGH to cover up Omega-3 deficiency symptoms. To get the real benefits of the research, you will need 3 to 6 regular fish oil pills.
Or you can try an Ultra-concentrated fish oil pill, OmegaVia, that has 1105 mg Omega-3 in each pill. That way, you just need one pill a day. Two OmegaVia pills equals more than 7 regular fish oil pills.
Concentrated fish oils get you the benefits with fewer pills.
Minimum recommended dose: 500 mg of Omega-3 per day.
For Optimum Health: minimum 1,600 mg Omega-3 per day.*
Omega-3 deficiency-related conditions: 2,000 to 3000 mg Omega-3 per day.*
|Heart health support*||1000 mg Omega-3 per day combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan.|
|Triglyceride management*||3000 mg Omega-3 per day combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan may help maintain healthy triglycerides.|
|Joint health*||2000 mg Omega-3 per day combined with an anti-inflammatory diet may help maintain healthy joints.*|
|Mood health*||Some (but not all) studies suggest that taking 2000 mg EPA Omega-3 per day may help support mood health.*|
|Skin health*||1000 mg Omega-3 per day combined with a healthy diet.|
|Blood pressure management*||Some studies suggest that 2000 mg Omega-3 per day with combined with a healthy diet and exercise program may help maintain already healthy blood pressure levels.*|
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Easy dosage: 1 OmegaVia pill = 1105 mg Omega-3
2 OmegaVia pills = 2210 mg Omega-3
Source: Food & Behaviour Research – American Psychiatric Association Omega-3 Fatty Acids Subcommittee
As more medical and government bodies issue official Omega-3 recommendations, they will be posted here.
Harvard Medical School doctor, Andrew Stoll, MD, said this about Omega-3:
“Every so often, scientists really do discover a substance of transformative power, one with the ability to cure the previously incurable and improve the quality of life for the rest of us. Omega-3 fatty acids — a component of simple fish oil, once so prevalent in our diet but now largely absent — could be such a substance.”
So keep taking your Omega-3 pills. Even a little goes a long way.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Is Fish Oil Good for Your Health? What the Studies Show
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En español | Even those who regularly pop little more than a multivitamin might be wondering if they should be taking fish oil — what with the constant news about how omega-3 fatty acids might help our health. And at least 10 percent of all Americans already take the supplement hoping to keep their hearts strong.
But can popping such a pill really protect your ticker? While a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that taking a fish oil supplement could reduce the chance of a heart attack by up to 40 percent in those who didn't regularly eat fish, it didn't pass the test of reducing both heart attacks and strokes in a study population.
In general, most in the medical community remain dubious. “The data to date, if one looks at large randomized clinical trials, which is the highest level of evidence, shows that supplements haven't been found to have any significant cardiovascular benefit,” says Deepak Bhatt, M.D.
, executive director of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine featured a review done on fish oil research published in major journals between 2005 and 2012. Twenty-two of the 24 studies showed no benefit. And the National Institutes of Health website has weighed in with this: “Research indicates that omega-3 supplements don't reduce heart disease.”
The news isn't much more encouraging for other health conditions. Fish oil may relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and lessen the need for pain medications, but only a little, research shows.
As for brain health, a 2012 review of data on thousands of older adults found that those who downed omega-3 fatty acid supplements had no fewer dementia diagnoses or better scores on short-term memory tests than those who popped a placebo.
A report released by the AARP-founded Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), a group including neurologists, nutritionists and researchers, which analyzed studies done on supplements claiming to boost cognition, found insufficient evidence to recommend any — fish oil included — for brain health for most adults.
Enter the Fish Oil Rx
But supplements are no longer the only way to pop fish oil, which brings us to some big news on the omega-3 fatty acid front: a prescription medication Vascepa (icosapent ethyl), which has proven to be something of a game-changer for those with certain conditions.
Made from one type of omega-3 fatty acid, called eicosapentaenoic (or EPA), extracted from sardines and anchovies and purified, the pill has been shown to help reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes for those who have a history of cardiovascular disease or major risk factors for it, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, those who took the drug in a randomized controlled study had a 25 percent reduced risk of major cardiovascular events.
Vascepa is already approved and in use for those with very high levels of triglycerides. And it's expected to get expanded approval this month, allowing it to be prescribed to a larger audience.
The drug is designed to be taken in addition to statin medications (which reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol).
Physicians believe the benefit may come because the medication contains only EPA at high levels — the amount of fish oil in the daily recommended dosage is 4 grams — un other supplements that contain both EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), another type of omega-3 fatty acid, at much lower doses.
In fact, says Bhatt, who was the trial's lead investigator, “You'd have to take 20 to 25 over-the-counter supplements a day, or consume 20 to 25 servings of fish a week, to potentially get that level of EPA.
” High doses of omega-3 aren't appropriate for everyone because they may pose risks, such as a slight increase in bleeding, so Bhatt suggests talking to your doctor to see if you're a good candidate for the drug.