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How are prescription omega-3s different from nonprescription?

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Prescription fish oil capsules contain a higher dose of omega-3 fatty acids than non-prescription versions. They are also monitored by the FDA for quality and safety.

Your doctor will probably recommended prescription-strength fish oil only 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 and stroke. But more research is needed to determine if prescription omega-3s lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Very high triglycerides are also linked to pancreatitis.

SOURCES:

Harvard School of Public Health: "Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids."

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Omega-3 Supplements: An Introduction."

Rizos, E. , Sept. 12, 2012. The Journal of the American Medical Association

American Heart Association: "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids."

Macchia, A. , December 2012. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

FDA: "Summary of Qualified Health Claims Subject to Enforcement Discretion."

Collins, N. , 2008. Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Chan, Eric J. , April 2009. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine

Lee, Y.-H. , July 2012. Archives of Medical Research

Bays, H. , March 2008. Expert Reviews

National Institutes of Health: "Fish Oil."

News release, Oregon State University.

Miller, M. , May 2011. Circulation

AstraZeneca.

UpToDate: Omega-3-acid ethyl esters (fish oil).

FDA: Access data: Omtryg.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 29, 2019

SOURCES:

Harvard School of Public Health: "Ask the Expert: Omega-3 Fatty Acids."

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Omega-3 Supplements: An Introduction."

Rizos, E. , Sept. 12, 2012. The Journal of the American Medical Association

American Heart Association: "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids."

Macchia, A. , December 2012. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

FDA: "Summary of Qualified Health Claims Subject to Enforcement Discretion."

Collins, N. , 2008. Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Chan, Eric J. , April 2009. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine

Lee, Y.-H. , July 2012. Archives of Medical Research

Bays, H. , March 2008. Expert Reviews

National Institutes of Health: "Fish Oil."

News release, Oregon State University.

Miller, M. , May 2011. Circulation

AstraZeneca.

UpToDate: Omega-3-acid ethyl esters (fish oil).

FDA: Access data: Omtryg.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 29, 2019

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What prescription omega-3 fatty acids are available?

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