Omega 3 Fish oil research

Posted on Posted in Cholesterol, Research

A lot has been said about Omega 3 Fish oil and the benefits it has to your heart health and reducing your bad cholesterol and increasing your good cholesterol.

I decided to go digging and do some research on it.

From Wikipedia, when I was looking up “Eicosapentaenoic acid”:

“Clinical significance

 The US National Institute of Health‘s MedlinePlus lists medical conditions for which EPA (alone or in concert with other ω-3 sources) is known or thought to be an effective treatment.[10] Most of these involve its ability to lower inflammation.

Intake of large doses (2.0 to 4.0 g/day) of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as prescription drugs or dietary supplements are generally required to achieve significant (> 15%) lowering of triglycerides, and at those doses the effects can be significant (from 20% to 35% and even up to 45% in individuals with levels greater that 500 mg/dL).

It appears that both EPA and DHA lower triglycerides, however DHA appears to raise low-density lipoprotein (the variant which drives atherosclerosis; sometimes inaccurately called: “bad cholesterol”) and LDL-C values (always only a calculated estimate; not measured by labs from person’s blood sample for technical and cost reasons), while EPA does not.

The big difference in effect between dietary supplement and prescription forms of omega-3 fatty acids is that the prescription variants are concentrated to markedly increase the amount of these key fatty acids per capsule over the many other fats present in “fish oil” and the mercury, also present in “fish oil”, has been removed.[citation needed]

EPA and DHA ethyl esters (all forms) may be absorbed less well, thus work less well, when taken on an empty stomach or with a low-fat meal.[11]”

Again, I stress, I am not a medical expert or even close to it.  Please see your trusted medical professional for advice before considering changing your diet.  This post is just my views and thoughts about and how changes to my diet may benefit my personal health.

So from above, it taken in isolation, we want to get 2-4g of omega-3 fatty acids to help lower triglyceride levels, however, DHA appears to raise the LDL Cholesterol level (“bad cholesterol”) at the same time. So possibly minimise DHA, while being in the 2-4g of Fish oil range? Currently a little confusing.

I had a look around the Chemist Warehouse site, as well as Market Australia’s for the “Heart Health Essential Omega 3” that we have as part of our exclusive range in our web portal as well as the Amway’s Nutriway Omega-3 Complex.

Results were interesting as can be seen from above.  It was hard to compare as each product had different sizing (1000mg, 1500mg, etc) and different EPA and DHA per tablet.  I ended up working out the cost per tablet, and then the tablets required to equate to our Heart Health product in EPA amount (900mg) and DHA amount (600mg). Then worked out the “total number of whole tablets” required, as you assume you won’t cut them in parts and take the whole thing.

Then worked out the number of grams of fatty acids for the whole number of tablets you would consume. Then worked out the amount of EPA and DHA which would be consumed by that many whole tablets.  And then finally the cost for consuming that number of whole tablets.

None of this data takes into account the “quality” of the fish oil, where “Heart Health” says: “The fish oil in Heart Health Essential Omega III comes from sardines,anchovies and mackerel harvested off the western coasts of South America & Africa. Not only do anchovies, sardines and mackerel have a high omega III content, they also have high percentages of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Small fish have a short lifecycle making them an ideal source of fish oil because they are less prone to accumulating environmental toxins that can be found in larger, longer-lived fish. Contaminants are generally extremely low in sardines, anchovies, and mackerel even before they go through an intense purification process. Every batch of bulk fish oil is tested prior to processing and must pass quality checks during the production process.”

While other products commonly say:

Take from “cold water fish” which is:

Cold water fish are one of the best dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. And
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower triglycerides, ease joint pain and
stiffness, relieve symptoms of depression and reduce inflammation.
Atlantic Mackerel
Sardines (low mercury levels)
Trout (lake)
Tuna (canned light tuna is lower in mercury)
Wild Salmon / Canned (considered safest because of low mercury)”

From the table above, it looks like the “Wagner Triple Strength Omega-3 1500mg” is the most economical that meets the 2-4g of fatty acids, plus you only need 2 tablets instead of 4 or 5.  One bottle of it contains 150 tablets so will last you two and a half months.  It isn’t the most economical, with cheaper options but you end up taking 4-5 tablets and consume 5-6g of fatty acids.

Looked up Google to see what happens if you take too much fatty acids:

Too Much Omega-3 Can be Harmful

The FDA has claimed that the use of omega-3s from supplements is safe if doses do not exceed 3,000 mg per day.

On the other hand, the EFSA (European equivalent of the FDA) has declared that up to 5,000 mg per day from supplements is safe.

These cautions are in place for several reasons. For one, omega-3s can cause blood thinning or excessive bleeding in some people.

For this reason, many organizations encourage people who are planning surgery to stop taking omega-3 supplements a week or two before the procedure.

The second reason is due to vitamin A. This vitamin can be toxic in high amounts, and some omega-3 supplements (such as cod liver oil) are high in it.

Finally, taking more than 5,000 mg of omega-3s has never been shown to provide any added benefits. So don’t take the risk.

BOTTOM LINE:Taking up to 3,000–5,000 mg of omega-3 per day appears to be safe, although such a high intake is likely not necessary for most people.”

And info on DHA and EPA amounts from the same page:

Official Omega-3 Dosage Guidelines

There is no set standard for how much omega-3 you should get each day.

Various mainstream health organizations have released their own expert opinions, but they vary considerably.

Overall, most of these organizations recommend a minimum of 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults (1234).

However, higher amounts are often recommended for certain health conditions.

BOTTOM LINE: To date, there is no official recommended daily allowance of omega-3s. However, most health organizations agree that 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA is enough for adults to maintain overall health.”



So with 2 Wagner Triple Strength Omega-3 fish oil we meet the minimum 250-500mg of EPA and DHA combined with 1080mg + 720mg = 1800mg, while also being 3 grams of Omega-3 for 29c per day as a treatment to lower your triglyceride cholesterol levels while possibly increasing your LDL cholesterol levels, but decreasing your chances of heart issues and cancer.  The human body is a complicated thing.

The Heart Health could possibly be a higher quality product but the cost is quite significantly higher per day ($1.09 vs 29c).

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