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Omega 3 Info

Fish oil pill or tablet

We have all heard that fish and particularly oily fish is good for you, but can you get the same health benefits from taking a fish oil pill or tablet as you can from eating fresh fish? The simple answer is yes, if you choose a high quality fish oil.

Fish oil extracted from the fatty tissue of oily fish contains very high quantities of the essential Omega 3 fatty acids EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA docosahexaenoic acid.  These fatty acids are essential for our health and wellbeing and yet the body cannot synthesise them by itself, it has to obtain them from dietary sources, either by eating fresh fish or by taking fish oil supplements.

Cod liver oil on the other hand, is extracted from the liver of the fish.  Although also high in the Omega 3 fatty acids, this oil contains high levels of vitamin A and vitamin D.  Vitamin A helps to fight infection and is good for night vision, and vitamin D is particularly important for those living in the Northern Hemisphere where there is not much sunlight.  The danger here is vitamin toxicity. It is possible to exceed the recommended daily allowance for these vitamins leading to vitamin overdose as they can accumulate to unhealthy levels in the body.  The only way to find out would be to have your GP check your levels. Consequently, some people like to take cod liver oil in the winter when there is not much sunlight around and then switch to fish oil in the summer.

There has also been a lot of concern about dangerous levels of mercury, dioxins, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and other toxins found in fresh fish. The current recommendation is to eat at least two portions of fish a week but no more than four.  Not all fish carry the same risk, for example mercury can be found in high levels in fish at the top of the food chain such as Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel and Tilefish.  It can also be present in Tuna and in somewhat lower levels in Salmon.

One way to avoid the risk of harmful toxins and yet still gain all the health benefits of eating fish, is to take fish oil supplements.  Fish oil pills are made from fish, so an important consideration when purchasing a fish oil is its purity. It is possible today to get pharmaceutical grade fish oil that has been subjected to intensive purification processes.  This means that the oil is safe and pure, allowing you to gain all the benefits of the fish oil without the risk of exposure to harmful toxins.

Fish oil bipolar

It’s been reported by psychiatrists that ethyl-EPA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, is a good treatment for bipolar depression. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry details the positive effects of EPA on the disorder and its ability to ease the symptoms.

Bipolar depression involves periods of mania alternating with periods of depression. These periods can last for weeks or years. Most patients find the depressive episodes most hard to deal with, and research has found that the depressive part of the disorder is also the hardest to treat effectively. There has been increased interest in the potential of Omega-3 fatty acids to help in these cases. A Harvard University team reported on this in 1999, and ever since other scientists have been looking into the positive effects of EPA on bipolar depression.

An Institute of Psychiatry study tested EPA on 75 bipolar out-patients, of both sexes between the ages of 18 and 70. Some received EPA, in a light dose or heavier dose, while others received placebos. They found that the benefits of the light dose were just as significant as those with a heavier dose. The EPA didn’t seem to have severe side effects beside some stomach ache, and it did not induce mania. There was some improvement in depression compared with the placebo group.

EPA, according to the authors of the study, may act on the nervous system by binding to receptors. This leads to the release of ‘second messenger’ molecules, whose knock-on effect brings about an altered state in the neuron. This means EPA has a similar effect to that of the mood stabilising drugs which bipolar patients usually rely on. The authors of the study conclude that further work is necessary to establish the benefits and possible side-effects of EPA, but they are optimistic they will find EPA is a safe and beneficial anti-depressant compound which may be more agreeable to patients than the usual drugs available.

Fish oil dosage

Fish oil dosage

EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid is an essential Omega 3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid found in oily fish, that is recognised by health authorities as having profound health benefits for the mind and body, and yet most of us are not getting enough EPA in our diets. Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is an equally important essential fatty acid, however, research suggests that it competes with EPA and can reduce its effectiveness.  Also, when we receive enough EPA, the body can convert it into DHA as required.

Fish oil dosage

There are a great number of fish oils on the market containing various combinations of EPA and DHA and at different strengths, with no universally accepted agreement as to what represents an optimum dose.  Studies indicate that somewhere in the region of 1000 mg of EPA taken on a daily basis is enough to make a significant difference to health.

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