The Supplement Guide
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Omega-3 Fish Oil

General Description

Omega 3 fish oil supplements are one of those few supplements that actually has a qualified health claim from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The F.D.A bestowed this status on Omega 3 oils because eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids have been proven by research to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.


Furthermore, omega 3 fish oils have also been used to improve mood, memory and brain function.  Lineolic acid, one of the omega-3 long chain fatty acids, may play a role in helping this supplement improve mental functions.


Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that cannot be manufactured by the body and therefore must be obtained from supplements or food sources.


Sources of the Supplement

Since 2000, the American Heart Associationís dietary guidelines have recommended that healthy adults eat at least two servings of fish per week so that they can enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of ingest natural sources of omega 3ís.


The main natural sources of the supplement are mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.  These fish are special contain two omega-3 fatty acids Ė   eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA).


A third kind of omega 3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, is less potent. It comes from soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed and oils made from those beans, nuts and seeds.


Omega 3 supplements are manufactured everywhere in the world where there are these types of fish. In North America companies in the Northeast manufacture many of the omega 3 supplements where there is an abundance of salmon in both the oceans and the rivers.


For the best results it is a good idea to take a supplement as it contains a mix of all three of these main oils.


Common Uses

Taking Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements has the following benefits:


  • Decreased risk of sudden death and arrhythmia.
  • Decreased the likelihood of developing a blood clot
  • Decreased triglyceride levels (fatty globules in the blood)
  • Decreased growth of atherosclerotic plaque 
  • Improved arterial health.
  • Less risk of having a stroke
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Improved mood
  • Improved memory
  • Improved clarity and mental focus
  • Improved immune function


According to an article in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids makes blood less likely to form clots that can cause a heart attack and helps protect against the irregular heartbeats that cause sudden cardiac death.


In the same article, published in April 2007, the American Heart Association states that people can lower their elevated triglyceride levels (a prelude to a heart attack) by taking two to four grams of EPA and DHA in the form of Omega 3 fatty acids a day. People taking more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from supplements should do so only under a physicianís care.  The FDA has noted that high intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people.


Almost all of the studies published about the effect of omega 3 fatty acids on heart health have been positive. In the March 2007 edition of the journal Atherosclerosis, 81 Japanese men with unhealthy blood sugar levels were given 1800 mg daily of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA - an omega-3 essential fatty acid from fish oil). The group was observed for two years to see if their carotid arteries grew thicker. Those given the EPA had a statistically significant decrease in the thickness of the carotid arteries along with improvement in blood flow. 


Another 2007 study published in the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy concluded that patients with high triglycerides and poor coronary artery health benefited from being given 4 grams  of a combination of DHA and EP a day. These subjects, who had high triglyceride levels in common (above 500 mg/dl) reduced their triglycerides on average 45% and their LDL cholesterol by more than 50%.


Yet another study on EPA was published in The Lancet in March 2007. This study involved over 18,000 patients with unhealthy cholesterol levels. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1,800 mg a day of EPA with a statin drug or a statin drug alone. The trial went on for a total of five years. It was found at the end of the study that those who were fed the EPA group had superior cardiovascular function.  This group also suffered from less fatal heart attacks and strokes. 


Another study regarding fish oil was published in the journal Nutrition in April 2007. Sixty-four healthy Danish infants received either cow's milk or infant formula supplemented with fish oil from nine to twelve months of age. It was found that those infants supplemented with fish oil had superior immune systems.


There have not been that many studies done directly with the effect of Omega 3 fatty acids on brain function but one published in the April 2007 edition of the Journal of NeuroScience cited a study on mice that proved that omega 3ís stave off memory loss.  Mice fed long chain omega-3 acids were less likely to accumulate amyloid and tau proteins which are substances that are thought to contribute to the memory loss in later years.

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