Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements for Heart Disease
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
- Reduce triglycerides
- 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. While 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.
Are there side effects with omega-3 fish oil?
Side effects from omega-3 fish oil may include:
- A fishy taste in your mouth
- Fishy breath
- Stomach upset
- Loose stools
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.