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Fish Oil

Fish oil supplementation takes the power of omega-3 fatty acids and puts it into a capsule. Because people traditionally had a tough time getting enough fish in their weekly diets, fish oil supplementation has emerged as an alternative way to increase inflammation-fighters in the body. However, there are also concerns about fish oil supplementation, namely in the capsule's safety. If a person is thinking of adding these supplements to their daily intake, here's what they need to know. 

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? 

Omega-3 fatty acids or omega-3s for short include the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaeinoic acid (DHA). These two fatty acids are known to fight inflammation in the body that leads to disease, such as heart disease, eye problems, cancers, mood disorders, arthritis, and more in the body. The body doesn't make them, so a person must get them in their daily diet. Fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, and sardines. 

Fish oil supplements are a capsule form of EPA and DHA. According to Harvard University, Americans spend an estimated $1 billion annually on fish oil supplements. Food manufacturers also add fish oil and omega-3s to some foods, such as milk, cereal, chocolate, cookies, and juice. 

DHA and EPA

Researchers have figured out DHA is the fatty acid that helps to protect your brain (Memory and nervous system) and EPA your heart (Cardiovascular system). When you buy fish oil supplements they will include both DHA and EPA fatty acids. Make sure you get the formula you want. A good common fish oil formula would be 300 mg of EPA x 200 mg DHA.

Fish Oil Benefits

Fish oil supplements contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are higher in fish and shellfish. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 8 or more ounces of fish a week as a means to get omega-3 fatty acids as well as other healthy fat sources in their diets. If a person doesn't like to eat fish or has difficulty incorporating fish in their daily diet, fish oil supplements could serve as an alternative. A significant and ever-growing body of research exists on the benefits of fish oil. Some of the most important benefits include:

  • Omega-3 supplements (such as fish oil) have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels. Because high triglycerides have been linked to high levels of heart disease, lowering levels could help a person's heart. 
  • Omega-3 and fish oil supplements have been shown to help reduce joint swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health. 
  • Helps reduce high blood pressure in some people.
  • Reduces stress-induced cortisol secretion.
  • Can reduce flaking and itching associated with eczema and psoriasis.
  • Maintains healthy brain and nerve cell function.

While omega-3 supplements may have indirect benefits in heart health (by lowering triglycerides), they haven't been conclusively shown to reduce the risks for heart attack or stroke. However, eating whole and fresh seafood regularly has been shown to help. 

Potential Side Effects 

Fish oil safety has been a concern surrounding taking the supplements. The most-known side effects of taking fish oil are very mild. They include:

  • Unpleasant taste to the supplements
  • Bad breath 
  • Headache 
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn.

Medication Interaction 

In addition to these concerns, doctors are unsure if people who take medications to reduce blood clotting should take fish oil supplements because they can also thin the blood. Those who are allergic to seafood may or may not be able to safely take fish oil supplements. As a result, they should talk to their doctor about whether or not they can safely take the supplements. 

Because there are individual health risks related to taking fish oil supplements, it's important that a person talk to their doctor before starting fish oil supplements. A doctor can review their current medication list and make sure there are no medical conditions or medications that would negatively affect a person's health. 

Also, while fish oil supplements offer many benefits, they aren't intended as a supplement for medications or treatments a person currently takes. As a result, a person shouldn't stop a particular treatment in favor of fish oil supplements unless a doctor recommends doing so. 

Safety 

Just as there are concerns about the chemical levels in fish (such as high levels of mercury), there are health concerns regarding fish oil supplements. According to Harvard University, independent laboratories have detected levels of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs in some fish oil supplements. These chemicals have been linked with causing cancer in some individuals. Because there is little oversight regarding the manufacturing and safety of these chemicals, it is difficult to guarantee they won't be present in fish oil supplements. 

Researchers say fish that come from cold and deep water like sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies have fewer toxins. Salmon is also used as omega 3 fish oil but it is usually found in shallow water.  To get around this quality Fish Oil Supplement producers will Molecular Distill the fish oil to remove all contaminants.

Purchasing supplements from trusted brands and stores may help to improve safety concerns. However, it's still possible the supplements could contain trace levels of these chemicals. 

About Fish Oil Supplements

The Fish Oil you buy should be Molecularly Distilled to virtually eliminate all detectable toxins including mercury. Make sure they are a popular brand with lots of positive reviews.


Best Fish Oil Supplements


Fish Oil Dosages

If a person is thinking of taking fish oil supplements, they may wonder how many of the little capsules they need to take to experience health benefits. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), there is no current data on the estimated average requirement a person needs for fish oil. However, they have established an adequate intake (AI) level for fish oil. This includes:

  • 14-18 years old: 1.6 grams (1600 mg) for men, 1.1 grams (1100 mg) for women 
  • 19-50 years old: 1.6 grams (1600 mg) for men, 1.1 grams (1100 mg) for women 
  • 51 years and older: 1.6 grams (1600 mg) for men, 1.1 (1100 mg) grams for women

Pregnant women may also have slightly higher needs in terms of intake, with an estimated 1.4 grams (1400 mg) needed per day. 

According to the ODS, most 1,000 mg fish oil supplements contain 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA. However, these doses can vary. If you want to help your memory (cognitive skills) then try a higher DHA (400 mg or higher) or if you need some cardio help try a higher EPA like 400 mg. These higher formulas will require a larger pill(s). Because formulations can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it's important to read food labels carefully before purchasing a supplement.  

Conclusions

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 7.8 percent of adults in the United States had taken a fish oil supplement in the past 30 days. These supplements are widely and, for the most part, safely used by many Americans. According to Harvard University, fish oil isn't the only beneficial aspect of eating whole fish. There are other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients contained within fish that may further increase the health benefits of eating them. As a result, it's likely better if a person can eat the recommended one to two servings of fish versus taking a supplement. However, if a person cannot eat fish due to taste preferences, taking omega-3 supplements may offer some health benefits. 

References:

Fish oil: friend or foe? (2013, July 12). Retrieved from health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467

Omega-3 fatty acids. (2018, March 2). Retrieved from ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/

Omega-3 supplements: in depth. (2018, May 8). Retrieved from nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm

Should you consider taking a fish oil supplements? (2017, December). Retrieved from health.harvard.edu/heart-health/should-you-consider-taking-a-fish-oil-supplement

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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.