It turns out fish oils are one of the top 3 dietary supplements people take. So why are they so popular? Here’s the scoop:
Fish oils are a combination of various fatty acids molecules named omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9. It was discovered that the most beneficial components of fish oils are omega 3’s. There are 3 main forms of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA, ALA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) helps reduce inflammation and triglycerides. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for brain health and function; however, DHA can increase bad LDL cholesterol. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is converted by the body to EPA and DHA. ALA is also found in plants, so you don’t need to consume a fishy liquid to get omega threes.
So how much is enough? Well, 4 grams of EPA/day Omega 3 oils is a therapeutic dose to reduce triglyceride levels. If you use less expensive oils containing higher amounts of omega 6 and omega 9’s, you could end up taking up to 12 capsules a day, and too much omega 6 mitigates the good effects of omega 3. Contamination, mislabeling or other problems are found in more than 30% of fish oil/Omega-3 supplements according to ConsummerLabs who independently test products. To know if you have a good product check their website https://www.consumerlab.com/
So do lower triglycerides translate into fewer heart attacks and death? Evidence has been inconsistent. While some systematic reviews have found little or no evidence that dietary or supplementary omega-3 fatty acid intake alters the risk of death or cardiovascular events in primary or secondary prevention (Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004 Oct 18;(4): CD003177, Arch Intern Med 2012 Apr 9 early online),(N Engl J Med 2012 Jul 26;367(4):309). While others have shown some benefit for cardiac mortality (BMJ 2008 Dec 23;337:a2931, Ann Med 2009;41(4):301).
Fish oils have also been studied in atrial fibrillation which is a dangerous and erratic heartbeat. Studies have shown that fish oils don’t work in this situation and may even make the problem worse. For more information see the prescribing instructions for Lovaza or google the following studies: FORWARD, PUFA, OPERA. Do not believe Dr. Oz’s blog when he says it can stabilize the heart. (That’s old information) Fish oils DE-stabilizes the heart. Dr. Oz also says in that blog that most fish oils are proven safe and effective. My only question to him is who does he think is testing them? Definitely not the FDA. Read my blog titled Do Dietary Supplements Really Works to find out who really does test supplements.
And are they really safe? There is also a concern that fish oils can increase the results of blood tests to check your liver function (ALT and AST) and your bad cholesterol levels (LDL-C). Also, there is a concern that they can possibly increase your risk of prostate cancer (but I suspect that is really from the Vitamin E mixed in with the fish oil. Stay tuned for a blog on that), and thin your blood too much if combined with prescription blood thinners.
In summary, fish oils are good for a lot of different reasons: pain, swelling, inflammation associated with chronic disease, high triglycerides, brain fog, and possibly puffy eyes and rashy skin. If you want beauty and brains fish oils are a good choice but, It’s good to know what fish oils can and cannot do for you.
Stayed tuned for more supplement facts and this is the Dr. Oz blog I was referring to. www.doctoroz.com/videos/daily-dose-omega-3