Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Fish Oil Supplement Review

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Fish Oil
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Prevention of subsequent heart attacks
+3 (Strong Evidence)
Decreasing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis
+3 (Strong Evidence)
Decreasing the level of high triglycerides
+3 (Strong Evidence)


  • Fish oil reduces the risk of having a second heart attack. It also benefits people who have undergone angioplasty (stent placement).
  • Fish oil consistently shows a significant reduction in the levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream. At the same time, levels of LDL cholesterol rise. LDL cholesterol is generally thought to be the “bad” type of cholesterol, but the truth is not so simple. There appear to be several types of LDL, some more beneficial and some less so. Fortunately these appear to be the larger, fluffier, more heart-friendly form of LDL.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil (EPA and DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used with good success as an addition to standard medical therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), many of which are somewhat toxic, so adding a healthy dose of fish oil can help put out the fire of inflammation.
  • Fish oils are generally well tolerated and have few side effects.


  • Ocean fish are likely to contain contaminants such as mercury. They also may spoil. Therefore, it is important to obtain a product that has been purified and tested. A simple way to check for a spoilage is to smell it yourself. If it smells like it’s gone bad, it probably has!
  • Side effects of taking fish oil can include fishy burps or, rarely, rashes.
  • Obviously, you should not take this product If you are allergic to fish. DHA from algae is a good (though more costly) alternative.
  • Fish oil may decrease clotting cells in the blood (platelets), thereby increasing the tendency to bleed. If this is a concern for you, taking an omega-3 derived from algae (DHA) should eliminate this effect.
  • We don’t yet know whether taking fish oil will prevent coronary heart disease in those individuals who don’t already have it.

If you take medications that affect blood clotting, such as warfarin (coumadin) or aspirin, fish oil (usually more than 3000 mg of active component DHA+EPA) can increase your risk of bleeding. If you are taking any blood thinning medications, we recommend working with your medical provider before taking fish oil supplements.

DOSAGE:You’ll want to check the label for the concentration of Omega-3s before you decide on an appropriate dose. Taking fish oils with meals in divided doses or keeping the capsules in the freezer can help prevent fishy burps. Doses shown to have benefit:

  • For coronary artery disease, take 1000 mg of omega-3 (DHA+EPA) per day.
  • For high triglycerides, take 2000 to 4000 mg of omega-3 per day.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, take 3000 to 5000 mg of omega-3 per day.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that fish oil is a safe and effective supplement for decreasing the risk of subsequent heart attacks, decreasing triglyceride levels, and decreasing the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. If you use it, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.

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“Fish Oil.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
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