Thursday, January 28, 2010


Fish oil supplements are constantly touted for their seemingly miraculous health benefits because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, according to ABC News. For people with heart disease, omega-3 acids can greatly reduce the risk of heart attack or dying from heart failure. Consumers should not necessarily avoid fish oil supplements because of PCB concerns from elevated levels of toxins like mercury in the ocean. But if someone has a low risk of heart disease and is concerned, then he or she could stop taking the supplements until further testing is done on specific fish oil supplements. follow the guidelines from the American Heart Association to find other sources of omega-3 acids such as fatty fish.

According to, healthy people are best off to get their omega-3s from fish—about 12 ounces a week. The following people should consider taking fish oil supplements, with their doctor’s approval: those who have coronary artery disease (1 gram a day of omega-3s on days when they don’t eat fish); those with high triglycerides (2 to 4 grams a day); those with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or other auto-immune disorders (3 grams a day). Large doses of fish oil supplements have potential side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, belching, and a bad taste in the mouth. Large doses of fish oil can also increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, suppress the immune system, and decrease glucose control in people with diabetes. Fish oil capsules contain two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexenoic (DHA). Like aspirin, they make platelets in the blood less likely to stick together and may reduce inflammatory processes in the blood vessels.

According to, these fatty acids stimulate the body's anti-inflammatory processes and help relieve joint pain, much the same as NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors, but without the side effects. An excess of proinflammatory messenger molecules causes joint pain, and consumption of fish oil prevents this build up.Both EPA and DHA are necessary for many functions in the body, but are not manufactured in the body in quantities sufficient for their use. Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, aids in the anti-inflammatory response of the body to pain. The fatty acid is converted to messenger molecules that relive both pain and inflammation in joints. EPA has the additional effect of preventing omega-6 fats from causing pain and inflammation.

One of the causes of joint pain is the over-consumption of omega-6 fats in the modern American diet, according to Omega-6 fats are a necessary part of the diet; however, vegetable oils and overprocessed foods sway the balance that the body needs between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The best ratio for health is an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 3 to 1, but most Americans consume a ratio of 15 to 1. This is the cause of much chronic inflammatory joint and back pain. Fish oil can be obtained from fatty fish, such as salmon, or in food supplements. Because of the pollution in the ocean, the source of the fresh fish must be evaluated to ensure that the fish does not contain mercury. One way to ensure this is by purchasing food supplements containing EPA and DHEA and the proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Be certain to note if the fish oil supplements are fresh and free of mercury, as tested in labs meeting the international pharmaceutical standards. Fresh fish oil should not have a bitter or fish-like taste. More details about the benefits of taking Omega-3 can be found at

According to, scientists were first alerted to the many benefits of fish oils in the early 1970s when Danish physicians observed that Greenland Eskimos had an exceptionally low incidence of heart disease and arthritis despite the fact that they consumed a high-fat diet. Intensive research soon discovered that two of the fats (oils) they consumed in large quantities, EPA and DHA, were actually highly beneficial. More recent research has established that fish oils (EPA and DHA) play a crucial role in the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart attack, depression, and cancer. Clinical trials have shown that fish oil supplementation is effective in the treatment of many disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and Raynaud's disease. An extensive medical literature testifies to the fact that fish oils prevent and may help to ameliorate or reverse atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Fish oils help maintain the elasticity of artery walls, prevent blood clotting, reduce blood pressure, stabilize heart rhythm and help combat inflammation. There is also considerable evidence that fish oil consumption can reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer and help slow their progression. Daily supplementation with fish oils has been found effective in preventing the development of colon cancer and has also been found to help combat depression.

It is clear that consuming a diet rich in oily fish or alternatively, supplementing with fish oils is one of the most important steps one can take to ensure vibrant and lasting health, according to However, pollution of fresh water lakes and even the oceans is now so extensive that a growing number of species should not be consumed regularly as they contain large amounts of mercury and other industrial pollutants. Fresh, wild pacific salmon is still an excellent source of safe fish oil, but if that is not available then a high quality fish oil is the answer to ensuring that daily needs for EPA and DHA are met. Only fresh, highly purified fish oils (molecular distilled, pharmaceutical grade) stabilized with vitamin E should be consumed. Some very recent British research has shown that emulsified fish oils are absorbed at twice the rate of non-emulsified oils. Low quality oils should be avoided as they are unstable and may contain significant amounts of mercury, pesticides, and undesirable oxidation products.

According to, toxicity can vary widely in fish oil, depending on what kind of fish is used and the contamination in its habitat waters, scientists say. Older, bigger fish tend to build up more PCBs in their fatty tissues than smaller fish, but habitat is still key. Deciphering which products are safest is not easy for consumers. Not all manufacturers state what kind of fish their oil is derived from, and few state which waters the fish come from. The public is increasingly turning to fish oil supplements as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). But which major U.S. producers of fish oil supplements purify their products to reduce or remove contaminants like mercury and dioxins? Responses indicate that the majority are purifying their fish oils to meet stringent safety standards. More details about the companies and their products can be found at

Fish oils can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements, according to; fish that are especially rich in the beneficial oils known as omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. They provide about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids in about 3.5 ounces of fish. Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber. Fish oil supplements often contain small amounts of vitamin E to prevent spoilage, and they might also be combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, or D.

Scientific evidence suggests that fish oil really does lower high triglycerides, according to WebMD,com; and it also seems to help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken in the recommended amounts. Ironically, taking too much fish oil can actually increase the risk of stroke. Fish may have earned its reputation as “brain food” because some people eat fish to help with depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, and other thinking disorders.Some people use fish oil for dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a very common condition in older people that can lead to serious sight problems. Women sometimes take fish oil to prevent painful periods; breast pain; and complications associated with pregnancy such as miscarriage, high blood pressure late in pregnancy, and early delivery. Fish oil is also used for diabetes, asthma, developmental coordination disorders, movement disorders, dyslexia, obesity, kidney disease, weak bones (osteoporosis), certain diseases related to pain and swelling such as psoriasis, and preventing weight loss caused by some cancer drugs. Fish oil is sometimes used after heart transplant surgery to prevent high blood pressure and kidney damage that can be caused by the surgery itself or by drugs used to reduce the chances that the body will reject the new heart. Fish oil is sometimes used after coronary artery bypass surgery. It seems to help keep the blood vessel that has been rerouted from closing up. When fish oil is obtained by eating fish, the way the fish is prepared seems to make a difference. Eating broiled or baked fish appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, but eating fried fish or fish sandwiches not only cancels out the benefits of fish oil, but may actually increase heart disease risk.

The bottom line is that if you are in a high risk health situation that may benefit from using fish oil, use it in moderation. Talk with your primary care physician or medical provider. However, if you are concerned about the toxicity of some supplements or certain fish oils, do research to find out what are acceptable forms or brands to take. Fish oil can be beneficial, but only in certain circumstances that do not affect your overall or individual health and well being. Stay away from fish oils that are not good for you, and make sure that your doctor gives you a green light to take them before making a purchase. There are many high quality brands on the market in the form of supplements. Plus, be careful of the types of fish you eat and how they are prepared before consuming them. Fish oils are not good for everyone, but find out if they work for you to help increase your ability to live a healthier lifestyle.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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