HomeHealth A-ZFish Oils and Omega-3 Oils – Benefits, Foods, and Risks

Fish Oils and Omega-3 Oils – Benefits, Foods, and Risks

Overview

Over the past decade, the consumption of nutrition supplements, like Omega-3 Fatty Acids, has gained prominence in promoting and maintaining an active lifestyle among health-conscious individuals. 

Nutritional deficiencies due to poor diet habits are on the rise, especially among working professionals. For instance, IT professionals are prone to Vitamin D deficiency due to their work largely being indoors. As a result, the consumption of nutritional supplements has become an alternative way for working professionals to stay healthy and active, and avoid certain lifestyle diseases. 

What are Omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are vital for the normal functioning of internal organs, like the brain and retina. People need to rely on food sources (like fish) or supplements because the human body cannot create these fatty acids on its own.

Fatty acids found in Omega-3 supplements have also been found to be highly beneficial in improving cardiovascular health and preventing the onset of heart diseases. 

Two crucial fatty acids called  EPA and DHA  are found primarily in certain fish. Another omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds.

Where to Get Omega-3s?

It is good to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements.  It is good to consume non-fried oily fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids at least two times a week.

These include:

  • Anchovies
  • Bluefish
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sturgeon
  • Lake trout
  • Tuna

Avoid fish that may have higher levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), or other toxins such as mackerel, shark, wild swordfish, and tilefish. Fish like wild salmon and wild trout are safer.

Good food sources of ALA include:

  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Soybean oil 
  • Canola oil

These may however be high in calories.

Should you consult a doctor before taking Omega-3 supplements?

Before starting any supplements, or making any major modification to your diet and lifestyle, it is recommended to consult your doctor.  It is advisable to know the risks of taking Omega-3 supplements if you are: 

  1. Pregnant
  2. Taking blood-thinning medicines
  3. Allergic to seafood

Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

What are the benefits of using fish oil and omega-3 oils?

There are benefits in consuming fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids Here is a quick checklist:

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  1. Fish oil can lower elevated triglyceride levels
  2. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) may curb joint pain and stiffness 
  3. Depression: Some researchers found that cultures that consume foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression 
  4. Baby development: DHA seems to be essential for neurological and visual development in babies
  5. Asthma: A diet rich in omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma

What are the possible side-effects of consuming fish oil?

Omega-3 supplements are unlikely to cause any serious side effects. But it’s always recommended to consult your Apollo doctor first, as there may be certain risks:

  1. Omega-3 supplements may alter blood coagulation and negatively interact with blood-thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin).
  2. Mild side effects, such as indigestion, or diarrhea, or other minor gastrointestinal issues
  3. Those who are allergic to fish or shellfish should consult with their Apollo doctor first before taking Omega-3 supplements.
  4. You must ensure that the supplements consumed by you are manufactured by a reputable supplier to reduce the chances of pollutants being present in your supplements
  5. Vitamin A is abundant in some fish oil supplements, such as cod liver oil. In excessive doses, this can actually be harmful.

What are the risk factors in consuming Omega-3 fatty acids?

The following categories of people need to follow certain precautions when consuming Omega-3 supplements:

  1. Pregnant women: Fish oil supplements are mostly safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it has no effect on the fetus. But, it is recommended that pregnant women should avoid certain types of fish, which are known to have high levels of mercury. Hence, you must consult a doctor before you start taking fish oil supplements if you are pregnant.
  2. Diabetes: High doses of fish oil and Omega-3 fatty acids are known to spike sugar levels. Hence, diabetic patients should consult with their doctor first, before consuming fish oil. 
  3. Heart patients with device implants: Fish oil may raise the risk of irregular heartbeat for people who have a defibrillator implanted. 

A note from Apollo hospitals/Apollo groups

Omega-3 is an important component in a healthy, balanced diet. Even though a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has benefits for heart patients, it’s still always important to stick to a diet that is nutritionally balanced and unprocessed. 

Individuals who consume a balanced diet will not need supplements to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) Should you take fish oil and cod liver oil at the same time?

It’s probably best to take either fish oil or cod liver oil alone, rather than both. Both oils have omega-3 fatty acid advantages, but cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D.

2) Is it better to take omega-3 in the morning or at night?

It is better to take omega-3 in the evening because omega-3 fatty acids and NSAIDs function on the same biochemical pathways. Taking the fish oil supplement in the evening may help you get out of bed more easily in the morning.

3) How long does Omega 3 take to start working?

When you take omega-3 supplements, your body’s levels of omega-3s swiftly rise. However, a meaningful change in mood, pain or other symptoms may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.

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