Fish Oil Supplementation for Heart Protection: How Much?

There have been many claims for benefits of fish oil (which contains omega-3 fatty acids) in multiple disease conditions. Todate, the strongest evidence of benefit is in the area of cardiovascular health, particularly the two longchain omega-3 fatty acids – Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The American Heart Association recently issued guidelines for the intake of omega-3 oils.

What are Good Dietary sources?

EPA and DHA are found almost exclusively in seafood.Fish do not produce EPA and DHA. Rather, these oils are synthesized by single-celled marine organisms that fish eat. These fatty acids are essential for fish as well as for humans.
Generally speaking, the “oilier” the fish, the more EPA and DHA are present. Fish that tend to have high concentrations include tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring.

What is the recommended intake of Omega-3 fatty acids?

The American Heart Association recommends about 1 g of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids per day for those with known coronary heart disease. People with no known heart disease should eat oily fish at least twice a week.

As the fish oil capsules dissolve in the stomach and release the oil, many people experience a “fishy burp.” Although obviously not a “side effect” in the usual sense, it can be bothersome. Taking the capsules at bedtime and freezing them can minimize or even eliminate this problem.

NOTE:

Since mercury toxicity is mainly a concern for fetuses and breast-fed infants, the US Food and Drug Administration’s advice to avoid contaminated fish is directed primarily at pregnant women, those wanting to become pregnant, and nursing mothers.

For More Information:
Harris WS. Fish Oil Supplementation: evidence for health benefirts. Cleveland Clin J Med. 2004; 71:208 (PDF version)http://www.ccjm.org/PDFFILES/Harris304.pdf

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