What Is a Good Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement

What Is a Good Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements

• Fish oil versus fish liver oil. Fish oil is extracted from the meat of marine fishes, which contain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) but no vitamin A or vitamin D. Fish liver oil is extracted from the livers of marine fishes, which contain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) as well as vitamin A and vitamin D. Compositions of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil and fish liver oil are different, as fish oil has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids compared to fish liver oil. In the winter months, Northern Europeans consume fish liver oil to obtain vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure, while in the summer months, they enjoy sun exposure and consume only fish oil to avoid getting too much vitamin D from fish liver oil.

• Dosage. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have several different formulations, of which the most popular is a soft gel cap containing 200 mg to 1,000 mg. When purchasing omega-3 fatty acid supplements, it is imperative to read the label for the relative amounts of EPA and DHA in each soft gel rather than the total amount of oil in each soft gel. A daily dose of 1 g of omega-3 fatty

acids with a meal is sufficient to maintain good health. If a dose of 2 g of omega-3 fatty acids is needed, you can take 1 g twice a day. Taking more than 2 g of omega-3 fatty acids daily is not recommended.

• Types. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements contain natural triglycerides, an ester form of triglycerides, or synthetic triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are natural triglycerides. The ester form of triglycerides and synthetic triglycerides are from synthetic fish oil, and their advantage is that they are free of pollutants. The disadvantage is that they lack all other nutrients present in natural fish oil.

• Krill oil. Krill oil, which is extracted from krill, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Krill oil lowers cholesterol and triglycerides and has anti-inflammatory functions, similar to fish oil.

• Heart. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may protect heart function, as it lowers triglycerides and blood pressure, increases "good" cholesterol (HDL), and prevents atrial fibrillation and heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can also have anticoagulant effects and prevent venous thrombosis.

• Inflammatory disease. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have anti- inflammatory functions. As such, they can ameliorate the symptoms observed in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and lupus erythematosus.

• Cancer. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids prevents weight loss in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. On average, a cancer patient could lose up to five pounds during a course of chemotherapy. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids during chemotherapy not only prevents weight loss; it also increases muscle mass. Long-term supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids was found to lower the risk of breast cancer. Regular consumption of fish may also prevent the recurrence of breast cancer.

• Depression. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can treat depression, particularly supplements in which the EPA content is greater than 60%. Prozac and omega-3 fatty acid supplements with a high EPA content taken together can effectively mitigate the symptoms of depression.

• Memory. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids improves memory, lowers triglycerides and blood pressure, and raises "good" cholesterol (HDL) levels.

• Life-span. Studies have shown that people aged 74 and older who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids lived longer and had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

• Venous thrombosis. Regular consumption of fish and fish oil may lower the risk of venous thrombosis. Studies from Norway have shown that people who consumed fish at least three times per week decreased the risk of venous thrombosis by 22%. People who consumed fish three times per week and also took daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduced the risk of venous thrombosis by 48%.

• Rheumatoid arthritis. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids taken at a dose of 210 mg daily for seven years reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 52%.

• Ulcerative colitis. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of ulcerative colitis. Randomized controlled trials have shown that omega-3 fatty acid supplements taken at doses ranging from 410 to 2,000 mg daily lowered the risk of ulcerative colitis by 77%. On the contrary, higher dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids exacerbated the risk of ulcerative colitis.

• Dry eyes. Supplementation with fish oil may improve dry eye syndrome. Studies have shown that a daily dose of 400 mg ameliorated dry eyes caused by prolonged computer use.

• Breast cancer recurrence. Supplementation with fish oil may prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. Women who take fish oil supplements have a 32% lower risk of breast cancer. Early-stage breast cancer patients who take fish oil supplements have a 25% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.

• Age-related macular degeneration. People who consume fish regularly decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Eating fish once a week decreased the risk by 42%.

• Anxiety. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may lessen anxiety. Studies have shown that medical students who took 2 g of omega-3 fatty acids daily for 12 weeks curtailed the risk of anxiety by 20%.

• Suicide. Low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a higher risk of suicide. Data obtained from 1,600 US soldiers who had committed suicide revealed that soldiers whose blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were low had a 62% increased risk of suicide.

• Psychosis. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may prevent psychosis. In one study, young people (ages 13–25) with psychotic or schizophrenic tendencies were divided into two cohorts. One cohort received 700 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily and the other cohort received a daily placebo for a period of one year. The results have shown that while 27.5% of the young people in the placebo cohort developed a psychiatric disorder, only 4.6% of the young people in the omega-3 fatty acid cohort developed one.

• Muscle strength. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may boost muscle strength. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements taken at a daily dose of 3 g for six months have increased muscle mass by 3.5% and muscle strength by 6% in elderly people.

• Acne. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may ameliorate acne. A group of acne-afflicted young people (ages 18–33) was divided into two cohorts: one cohort received supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids at a daily dose of 2 g for 10 weeks, and the other received a placebo for 10 weeks. The results revealed that the omega-3 fatty acid cohort's acne outbreaks were reduced by 42% compared to the placebo group.

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