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Top 4 Health Benefits of Fish Oil: How Doctors Say Omega-3 Fatty Acid Helps

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Omega-3 fatty acid sources. (Shevs/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 10:28 AM

Eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, which contains large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to have a positive effect on several systems in your body.

While the helpfulness of some effects is still being researched, the medical community recognizes that some studies have found definitive benefits to increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s, essential fatty acids, must be absorbed through food because the body doesn’t make them.

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Here are the top four ways omega-3s have been well-studied and shown to be good for your health:

• Memory — In normal development, omega-3 fatty acids are in high concentrations in the brain, affecting memory and performance, and it’s critical that infants don’t have low concentrations because they can develop vision and nerve issues, the University of Maryland Medical Center said.

• Heart disease – UMMC calls the role of omega-3s in cardiovascular disease “well established,” pointing to studies that found the EPA and DHA acids contained in fish oil as having been shown to reduce risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil has also decreased triglyceride levels, which are the fats in the blood that gives the body energy, and “to lower the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms in people who have already had a heart attack. Fish oil also appears to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots, which can clog arteries,” UMMC said.

• Lowers blood pressure – The Mayo Clinic said many studies have shown positive effects on blood pressure by people taking omega-3 fatty acids. But the effects were shown to be small, and “may be greater in people who have higher blood pressure and may depend on the dose. DHA may have greater benefits than EPA,” the site said.

• Rheumatoid arthritis – Studies have shown that morning stiffness and joint tenderness are improved for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers when they take fish oil supplements. The benefits have also been shown when the fish oil is given through an IV. “Fish oil has been found to have effects on the immune system and on fats in the blood in people with rheumatoid arthritis,” the Mayo Clinic said. “However, effects beyond three months of treatment are unclear. More research is needed before a firm conclusion may be made.”

Below are four conditions that some studies have found to be impacted by taking omega-3 fatty acids, but that medical organizations believe need to be studied more thoroughly:

• The risk of age-related macular degeneration might be reduced by taking omega-3s, Mayo said. Evidence using omega-3s alone is limited, but it has been studied in combination products that have been effective.

• Stroke – Consuming fish once or twice a week has been shown to lower risk of stroke by as much as 27 percent, according to MedlinePlus. “However, eating fish doesn’t lower stroke risk in people who are already taking aspirin for prevention,” the National Institutes of Health site said. “On the other hand, very high fish consumption (more than 46 grams of fish per day) seems to increase stroke risk, perhaps even double it.”

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• Osteoporosis (weak bones) – Fish oil has been shown in some studies to work by itself or with calcium and evening primrose oil to slow bone loss rates, and also increase bone density, MedlinePlus said.

• Mental health disorders – Some studies have shown positive effects on people suffering with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, but the studies are very preliminary, UMMC said. In some cases, additional studies did not find an effect.

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Eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, which contains large doses of omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to have a positive effect on several systems in your body.
fish oil, health, benefits, omega-3
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2014-28-21
Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 10:28 AM
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