Complementary Medicine - Cam
Fish Oil & Cod Liver Oil (EPA & DHA)
What Are Star Ratings?
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
How It Works
How to Use It
Presumably, healthy people who frequently eat fatty fish (several times per week) have no need to supplement with fish oil. How much EPA and DHA , if any, should be supplemented by healthy people who do not eat much fatty fish, remains unclear.
Most researchers studying the effects of EPA and DHA in humans who have a variety of health conditions have given those people at least 3 grams of the total of EPA plus DHA—an amount that may require 10 grams of fish oil, because most fish oil contains only 18% EPA and 12% DHA.
The health benefits for people with Crohn’s disease have been reported with a special, enteric-coated preparation of purified EPA/DHA manufactured from fish oil. This preparation of purified fatty acids does not cause the gastrointestinal symptoms that often result from taking regular fish oil supplements, which makes it a peferable source of EPA/DHA for people with gastrointestinal illnesses.197
In one trial, the maximum amount of fish oil tolerated by people being treated for cancer-related weight loss was reported to be approximately 21 grams per day.198 However, in people who do not have cancer, the maximum tolerated amount may be different.
Where to Find It
EPA and DHA are found in mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, sablefish (black cod), anchovies, albacore tuna, and wild game. Cod liver oil contains large amounts of EPA and DHA. Fish oil supplements typically contain 18% EPA and 12% DHA, though more purified (i.e., higher in EPA and DHA) fish oil supplements are sometimes available. In addition, DHA is available in a supplement that does not contain significant amounts of EPA.
So-called “primitive” diets have much higher levels of EPA and DHA than modern diets. As a result, some researchers and doctors believe that most people who eat a typical western diet are likely to be consuming less-than-optimal amounts of EPA and DHA. To a very limited extent, omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable sources, such as flaxseed oil , can be converted in the body to EPA.
At least four studies have reported a reduced blood level of omega-3 fatty acids in people with depression .199 , 200 , 201 , 202
People with rheumatoid arthritis have been found to have decreased levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as are found in fish oil, in their joint fluid and blood.203
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Some evidence suggests that adding vitamin E to fish oil may prevent fish oil-induced increase in blood sugar levels.204
People who took fish oil and who also took 15 grams of pectin per day were reported to have reductions in LDL cholesterol .205 This suggests that pectin may overcome the occasional problem of increased LDL cholesterol reported in people who supplement with fish oil. The LDL-cholesterol raising effect of EPA and DHA has also been reported to be prevented by taking garlic supplements (or presumably including garlic in the diet) along with EPA and DHA.206
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
Potential Negative Interaction
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
While those with heart disease and diabetes have often been reported to benefit from supplementation with fish oil,216 , 217 both groups should check with their doctor before taking more than 3 grams of fish oil per day for several months. Elevations in blood sugar and cholesterol levels may occur in some people who take fish oil.218
The increase in blood sugar appears to be related in part to the amount of fish oil used.219 The impairment of sugar metabolism sometimes caused by supplementation with fish oil has been prevented by the addition of half an hour of moderate exercise three times a week.220
While supplementation with fish oil consistently lowers triglycerides , the effect of fish oil on LDL (“bad”) cholesterol varies, and in some people, fish oil supplementation has been reported to increase LDL levels.221
There has been one case report in which a woman with a known allergy to crabs developed a severe allergic reaction after ingesting fish oil.222
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