Fish Oils

Fish contains fats called the polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known as omega-3 fats-considered to be the healthiest dietary fats. The omega-3 fats in fishes are different from the type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in most other vegetable oils which are known as omega-6 fats. These two different types of dietary fats induce different effects on the human body. The polyunsaturated fats in the fish body is not synthesized by the fish but is rather sourced from the consumed plankton. The content of omega-3 in plankton tends to be higher the colder the temperature of the water - therefore, cold water fishes tend to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fishes such as salmon and trout tend to be very high in their content of the two most potent forms of omega-3s, known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and decosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Certain vegetable oils like those derived from the flaxseed and leafy greens like the purslane herb contain a third type of omega- 3, known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - which is also beneficial for health. It must be mentioned, however, that the physiological effects of ALA is not comparable to EPA and DHA and the former is chemically not identical to the latter two.

The polyunsaturated omega- 3 fatty acids are involved in a many specific vital biochemical processes in the human body. They are thought to play roles in regulating blood pressure and are believed to take part in the coagulation regulation connected to blood clotting, they are also said to affect inflammation, enhance immunity, and are believed to possibly affect thought processes as well. Omega-3 fatty acids are useful for preventing or treating a large and myriad variety of disorders and diseases affecting the human body.


The consumption of fish oils is believed to lower the risk of heart disease to a significant extent. Omega-3 fatty acids are very healthy for the body and have beneficial effects on the cardiac system in several major ways. One of the principal ways in which, the presence of omega-3 in the body benefits a person is that they affect the platelets found in the blood less likely to form clumps - the sudden clumping of platelets in the body in the form of clots is the major causative factor for heart attacks and related cardiac conditions. The other beneficial effect of the omega-3 fatty acids lies in their ability to significantly reduce the amount of triglycerides in the blood; these are blood fats that are similar to cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids may also lower elevated blood pressure and reduce the chances of stroke. Other results from recently concluded research have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids have the capacity to strengthen the electrical system unique to the heart - this helps prevent heart rhythm abnormalities from developing. The biggest proof of the benefits that fish based fatty oils has however, come from human studies, where the participants consumed fish in the diet rather than from test where subjects were only given supplements of fish oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids act by inhibiting inflammation within the arterial walls - this is the major factor in the build up of plaque leading to many cardiovascular diseases. This is one reason that fish oils are supplemented in therapeutic doses of fish to prevent the blockage of arteries that is quite common following an angioplasty procedure. During angioplasty a small balloon is guided along the artery all the way to the site of blockage, once it reaches the target site, the balloon is inflated so as to compress the plaque, to cause a widening of the vessel, and to boost the flow of blood to the heart. Doses of fish oils are also helpful in dealing with Raynaud's disease due to their property of preventing arterial blockages.

There are other beneficial effects of the omega-3 fatty acids as well, for example, the omega-3 fatty acids are very effective general anti-inflammatory agents - being effective in treating all manner of joint problems, helpful in the treatment of lupus, as well as psoriasis and related skin disorders. In clinical studies, result suggests that tested subjects who took fish oil supplements experienced a lessening of stiffness and swelling in the joints that comes with rheumatoid arthritis, the fish oil supplements also seemed to help such patients manage the disease on a lower dose of the principal anti-inflammatory medications. Patients with Crohn's disease were studied for one year as part of clinical experiment, symptoms of the disease were absent in about sixty nine percent of the patients who consumed enteric coated fish oil supplements of about three grams each on a daily basis, this results are striking when compared with the absence of symptoms in just twenty eight per cent of those patients who were given only a placebo. In addition, the consumption of all types of fish oils can also help women suffering from menstrual cramps. There is also a suggestion that the omega-3 fatty acids may affect mental health in some ways. The results from a preliminary clinical study indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids might help a mentally disturbed person by reducing the severity of schizophrenia by a factor of twenty five percent. One reason underlying this effect could be because DHA found in fish oils is also a major component of the fats that form much of the brain tissues.

Usual dosage

Doses of fish oils differs for different conditions, to treat disorders such as lupus, Raynaud's disease, any heart disease, and skin problems like psoriasis - the dose can be three thousand mg of fish oils daily spread over a prolonged supplemental period. To treat problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, a dose of up to six thousand mg of fish oil can be taken daily for a prolonged supplemental period. A daily dose of five thousand mg can be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease and related inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

If the normal diet contains fish based meals at least two times a week, the consumption of fish oil supplements may not be necessary, especially, when it is intended purely as a means to prevent the onset of heart disease prevention or treatment. At the same time, the consumption of fish oil supplements are always recommended for treating problems such as rheumatoid arthritis and any other inflammatory conditions, especially, those that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Fish oil capsules can be consumed along with the daily meals as a dietary supplement for long term health benefits. Taking the fish oil supplements in divided doses may make the body tolerate them better, especially, if the dosage is intended for a prolonged supplemental regimen; an example of such a supplemental measure, is consuming about a thousand mg of fish oil supplements thrice daily, instead of taking a huge three thousand mg dose at once.

Side effects and cautions

There are some general side effects which can be induced by the prolonged consumption of fish oil capsules. Long term use can trigger persistent belching episodes, because gas and flatulence induce abdominal bloating, bring on spells of nausea, and induce a persistent attack of diarrhea. Taking extremely high doses of fish oils can also bring on a mildly fishy body odor that can be very embarrassing. At the same time, some clinicians suggest that continual high doses induce internal bleeding in the body. However, cases of internal bleeding were not detected during a clinical study in which people down with heart disease were administered about eight thousand mg of fish oil supplements daily, in addition to a dose of ASA - an anticoagulant compound normally used as a medication.

There are also other concerns with the unregulated use of supplemental fish oil, as the results from certain clinical studies suggest. In these studies, it was found that the consumption of high doses of fish oils by people with diabetes actually worsened the blood sugar regulatory disorders; however, the same doses in other trials did not induce similar deleterious effects on tested patients. The best bet for diabetics is not to consumed more than two thousand mgs of fish oil supplements daily, especially, if the supplemental regimen is not been overseen by a qualified doctor or clinician.

People who have a tendency to exhibit high triglycerides during a fasting period must also be careful of using fish oil supplements, especially if they have elevated LDL" ("bad") cholesterol" levels at the same time. The levels of LDL in the blood can be boosted by consuming therapeutic doses of fish oils for prolonged periods of time. The main remedy for such conditions may be the use of supplemental garlic - in natural or capsule form. In the course of one clinical trial, it was found that supplements of garlic tended to reverse the LDL elevating property displayed by the fish oils. Eating fishes may not be sufficient for chronic problems like rheumatoid arthritis and related inflammatory conditions; the use of fish oil supplements is suggested in such cases.