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Fish Oil

By Shaun Holt

For years I have recommended that unless a person has lots of oily fish in their diet, then they should consider taking a fish oil supplement. The two key omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health because the body cannot make them and so they must be obtained through food. Examples of oily fish are mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and trout. These provide about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids for every 100 grams of fish. An alternative source are plants that are rich in another type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, which the body can convert to DHA and EPA. Good sources of these are flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil, which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans

There is good evidence that fish oil can be effective for many conditions, particularly those that are primarily or substantially caused by inflammation, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease – fish oil has been proven to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease via several mechanisms, including lowering triglyceride levels and blood pressure
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dysmenorrhea - fish oil can improve painful periods and reduce the need for pain medications
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
  • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)