Do you eat fish or would you rather take fish oil? If you eat fish how much do you need to actually get the health benefit of fish oil. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which is good for the heart, it helps cut down your chance of irregular heart beat and sudden cardiac death. Fish oil also help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. You need to eat fish at least two times weekly and not less than seven ounces to even come close to getting the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that you need on a weekly basis. I don’t know about you but personally fish shows up on my dinner table very randomly and I’m not the type that keep track of my food consumption. It is easier for me to just swallow that capsule of fish oil, usually 1000 micrograms any time and anywhere instead of going through the hassle of buying, cooking and then recording how much ounces of fish I’ve eaten on a daily or weekly basis. If you prefer to continue eating fish make sure you are getting the right amount and that you only eat the type of fish known to have less amount of mercury like salmon or tuna. Mercury for your information will damage your nervous system and this is even more devastating on younger children, newborn or pregnant women. Below is an article I recommend for you to read more about fish oil.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements and Prescriptions
While offering dietary advice, your doctor may have suggested that you eat salmon or other fatty fish at least twice a week. The reason for this recommendation is that fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are healthy fats that have been promoted for a variety of heart, brain, and other health benefits.
Your body can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids. So you need to get them from your diet. The ideal sources are from foods like:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna
Even though food should be your main source of omega-3 fatty acids, most Americans don’t get enough of this nutrient from diet alone.
If that’s the case with you, your first step should be to eat more fish and other omega-3 foods. Besides providing omega-3s, these foods have other health benefits, including:
But if you can’t or don’t want to change your diet, then over-the-counter (OTC) supplements may help you make up the omega-3s you’re missing.
OTC omega-3 supplements come in different formulations and doses. And there’s still much debate about whether they can prevent or treat disease.
Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
EPA. This type of omega-3 is found in:
- Fish oil supplements
- Prescription fish oil
EPA helps reduce inflammation in the body.
DHA. This type is found in:
- Fish oil supplements
- Prescription fish oil
- Algae supplements
DHA is essential for brain health and function.
ALA. This is contained in walnuts. It’s also found in vegetable oils such as:
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Flaxseed oil
The body converts ALA to its more active forms — EPA and DHA.
OTC Omega-3s and Your Health
Supplements that you buy over the counter at the drugstore or supermarket usually contain low doses of EPA and DHA. On average, each 1,000-milligram fish oil capsule contains:
- 180 milligrams of EPA
- 120 milligrams of DHA
OTC omega-3 supplements can help make up for a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. But when it comes to preventing or treating disease, most studies that have been done so far have not found much benefit in taking low daily doses of OTC omega-3s.
Prescription Omega-3s and Your Health
Prescription fish oil supplements contain a higher dose of omega-3 fatty acids than over-the-counter versions. Usually you’ll take four capsules containing 1 gram of EPA alone, or a combination of EPA and DHA, a day.
Your doctor will probably only recommended a prescription-strength supplement if your triglycerides are very high (more than 500 mg/dL).
Research suggests very high triglyceride levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. However, doctors aren’t sure if lowering triglycerides reduces the risk.
Very high triglycerides are also linked to pancreatitis.
Two types of prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acid are available:
- Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters). This contains a combination of EPA and DHA.
- Vascepa (icosapent ethyl). This contains EPA only.
Cautions About Prescription Omega-3s
Common side effects of prescription omega-3s vary according to the type of prescription. Side effects of Lovaza include:
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
- Upset stomach
A side effect of Vascepa is joint pain.
Prescription omega-3 fatty acids may also affect the blood’s ability to clot. But lab tests show bleeding while on omega-3s still falls within normal limits.
Even so, it’s recommended that people who take blood-thinning medications get monitored if they also take omega-3s. Talk to your doctor if you take blood thinning medicines, such as Coumadin (warfarin) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Even though omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels, brands that contain DHA may raise levels ofLDL “bad” cholesterol. This could be a problem if you already have high cholesterol, which often goes hand-in-hand with high triglycerides. So if you have high LDL, fish oil with DHA may not be the best choice for you.
Cautions About OTC Omega-3s
The FDA doesn’t regulate over-the-counter supplements. So it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what you’re getting in the bottle.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements come in many different doses and types. Each supplement can contain different ingredients, depending on the manufacturer’s standards. For example, fish liver oils — such as cod liver oil — also contain vitamins A and D, which can be dangerous in large doses.
OTC omega-3 fatty acid supplements usually have very mild side effects, such as:
- Fishy taste in the mouth
- Upset stomach
Talk to your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements if you:
Also discuss with your doctor what type and dose you should use. Talk about your health history and other medicines you’re taking.
And make sure you really need to take an omega-3 supplement. In some cases, all you might need are a few adjustments to your diet.
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