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)

PRO

  • 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.

CON

  • 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.

* *ADVISORY* *
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.

REFERENCES
“Omega 3 Fatty Acid.” ConsumerLab.com. ConsumerLab.com LLC, 2013. 11 October 2013
“Omega 3 Fatty Acid, Fish Oil.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Fish Oil.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
Muldoon, M. et al. Serum Phospholipid Docosahexaenonic Acid Is Associated with Cognitive Functioning during Middle Adulthood. The Journal of Nutrition (2010) 140:848-853
Kelley, D. et al. Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation improves fasting and postprandial lipid profiles in hypertriglyceridemic men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 86:324-33
Horvath, A. et al. Effect of supplementation of women in high-risk pregnancies with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on pregnancy outcomes and growth measures at birth: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition (2007) 00,1-8
Bazan, N. et al. The Onset of Brain Injury and Neurodegeneration Triggers the Synthesis of Docosanoid Neuroprotective Signaling. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (2006) 26, 901-913
Kelley, D. et al. Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation Decreases Remnant-Like Particle-Cholesterol and Increases the (n-3) Index in Hypertriglyceridemic Men. The Journal of Nutrition (2008) 138:30-35
Mori, T. et al. Purified eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids have differential effects on serum lipids and lipoproteins, LDL particle size, glucose, and insulin in mildly hyperlipidemic men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) 71:1085-94
Lu, Y. et al. Dietary n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake interacts with FADS1 genetic variation to affect total and HDL-cholesterol concentrations in the Doetinchem Cohort Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010) 92:258-65
Leon, H. et al. Effect of fish oil on arrhythmias and mortality: systematic review. BMJ (2009) 338a2931
Van de Rest, O. et al. Effect of fish oil on cognitive performance in older subjects. Neurology (2008) 71:430-438
Missmer, S. et al. A prospective study of dietary fat consumption and endometriosis risk. Human Reproduction (2010) 25(6):1528-1535
Martins, J. et al. EPA but not DHA Appears To Be Responsible for the Efficacy of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation in Depression: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2009) 28(5):525-42
Massaro, M. et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation and angiogenesis: basic mechanisms behind the cardioprotective effects of fish and fish oils. Cellular and Molecular Biology (2010) 56, 59-82
Vakhapova, V. et al. Phosphatidylserine Containing n-3 Fatty Acids May Improve Memory Abilities in Non-Demented Elderly with Memory Complaints: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders (2010) 29:467-474
Jacobson, T. et al. Role of n-3 fatty acids in the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2008) 87:981S-90S


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