Fish oil contains omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is said to affect blood chemistry, inflammation, muscle contraction and immune function.
What is it used for?
Fish oil is used for a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, reducing triglycerides (blood fats), diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ADHD, Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, cystic fibrosis and asthma.
How is it used?
Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from oily fish such as salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, gemfish, canned sardines, canned salmon and some varieties of canned tuna. Fish oils are also available as supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets.
At a glance:
Main use: Prevent heart disease
Evidence: Fish oil supplements are helpful in reducing triglyceride levels. Eating 2-3 serves a week of oily fish is recommended for improving heart health. Fish oil supplements are also recommended by the Heart Foundation for helping prevent heart disease, however some recent studies show these supplements might not be as helpful as previously thought.
- Stop high doses one week before surgery.
- May cause gastrointestinal symptoms, loose stools.
Remember to always tell your healthcare provider about all the remedies and medications you’re taking.
The effects of omega-3 oils on a number of conditions have been widely studied. Fish oil supplements have been shown to reducehigh levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood).
The Heart Foundation recommendsAustralian adults consume at least 500mg of omega-3 EPA/DHA every day as part of a healthy diet to help prevent cardiovascular disease. It suggests you do this by eating 2 to 3 serves a week of oily fish and/or by supplementing your diet with fish oil supplements or with omega-3 enriched food and drinks.
But the evidence for the role of fish oil supplements in helping prevent heart disease is mixed. Studies have previously shown fish oil supplements are helpful for reducing death from heart attacks. However, recent studies show supplements may not be as helpful as previously thought in reducing risk of heart attacks and stroke.
There is some evidence that fish oils may reduce blood pressure and be helpful in diabetes, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis, although better studies are needed. There are mixed results for the effect of fish oils on depression.
Current research shows fish oils are probably not helpful in preventing dementia, stroke or cancer. And they do not appear helpful in treating lupus, asthma, schizophrenia, eczema, Crohn’s disease ormultiple sclerosis.
There is some evidence that a higher intake of image 3 fatty acids (from fish or supplements) is linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer, although the association is not proven. If you are concerned it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking fish oil supplements.