In the past 10 years, many Americans have turned to omega 3 fish oil supplements, which have benefits for healthy people and also those with heart disease.
Omega 3 fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are important in preventing and managing heart disease.
Findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:
Lower blood pressure
Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that everyone eats fish (particularly fatty, coldwater fish) at least twice a week. Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout, and tuna are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids. Whole foods are your best bet for getting omega-3s in your diet, fish oil supplements are also available for those who do not like fish. The heart-healthy benefits of regular doses of fish oil supplements are unclear, so talk to your doctor to see if they’re right for you. If you have heart disease or high triglyceride levels, you may need even more omega-3 fatty acids. Ask your doctor if you should take higher doses of fish oil supplements to get the omega-3s you need.
How much omega-3 fish oil is safe?
The AHA says taking up to 3 grams of fish oil daily in supplement form is considered safe. Don’t take more than that unless you discuss it with your doctor first.
Side effects from omega-3 fish oil may include:
A fishy taste in your mouth
Taking more than 3 grams of fish oil daily may increase the risk of bleeding.
If you want to take higher doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can guide you in supplementing your diet with omega-3 fish oil. Also, your doctor can monitor all aspects of your health if you take higher doses of fish oil.For people with very high triglyceride levels, prescription omega-3 preparations are also available.
Some 10% of American adults regularly take an omega-3 supplement, despite uncertainty about whether these products truly live up to their health claims. But two new studies published in November 2018 shed some light on who might benefit from omega-3 supplements — and who probably won’t.
The first study was the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL), a large multiyear study with 25,871 healthy adults with no history of cardiovascular (heart or blood vessel–related) disease and at “usual risk” for it. The group was racially diverse and chosen to be representative of the general population, says the study’s lead author Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, professor of medicine and the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School.
Researchers tested, among other things, whether a moderate dosage (1 gram a day) of an omega-3 supplement could help prevent major cardiovascular events, compared with a placebo. Cardiovascular events included not only heart attacks, but stroke, and angioplasty procedures to clear blocked arteries.
“The findings are somewhat complex and nuanced. It’s not a simple yes, or no, or one-size-fits-all answer. Some groups tended to benefit, while other groups didn’t,” says Dr. Manson.