By Dr. Peter Kadile
I have frequently discussed the benefits of Omega 3 fish oil in the past. I have mentioned how it can benefit the heart and the brain. Well, here are some more benefits for this over the counter supplement.
Specifically, Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be beneficial for depression. A recent study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that using omega 3 fatty acids along with antidepressants was found to be beneficial.
Another psychiatric study, the Vienna Omega-3 Study, has shown that high dose Omega 3 fatty acids taken for 12 weeks was beneficial in preventing psychosis.
Omega 3 fish oil also has benefits for the skin. Supplementation can help reduce eczema and psoriasis.
A study published in the international journal, Acta Dermata Venereologica, in February 2014, showed that supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (commonly known as GLA) can be beneficial in the treatment of acne. After 10 weeks of supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids and GLA, acne lesions decreased significantly. GLA is a supplement that can also be found over the counter.
What about joint pain?
Omega 3 fatty acids have very powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 study found that fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis patients. These patients were able to take less of their pain medications, such as ibuprofen or naprosyn, because of their supplementation with omega 3 fish oil. Omega 3 fish oil may also have a similar effect in osteoarthritis.
What’s a good dose?
Most of the over the counter available omega-3 fish oil will state “1,000mg” or “1,200mg” on the label, but you should turn the bottle around to look at the rest of the label to determine how much EPA and DHA are in the capsule. Fish oil is rich source of two essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Generally, EPA is good for the heart and DHA is good for the brain, so the more EPA and DHA contained per fish oil capsule, the better. Not all fish oil brands are the same so it is very important to look at the label and make sure you pay attention to the serving size. What may seem like a good dose of EPA/DHA could be a serving size of 6 capsules! I generally recommend taking a product that provides at least 700-1,000mg of EPA and 200-500mg DHA daily in the smallest amount of pills. Higher dosages are available in liquid form. Molecularly distilled fish oils are naturally high in EPA and DHA and low in contaminants.
Common adverse side effects are varying degrees of stomach upset, gas or burping fish breath. I have found that higher quality fish oil supplements have less side effects. Fish oil supplements may cause easy bruising and can affect blood clotting, so check with your doctor if you are on any anticoagulant or “blood thinning” medications.