Posted 3/16/07CLICK TO PRINT

NAME: Fish Oil
(Docosahexaenoic Acid)
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Omega-3 Oils
DESCRIPTION: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the most important omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids - special fats that the body needs for optimum health.

DHA is crucial for adult brain function, and for the development of our nervous system and visual abilities during the first six months of life. Insufficient DHA is associated with a host of mental and visual functioning issues, including, in children, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childred and depression and Alzheimer's disease.

While prescription of fish oil for heart attack survivors is standard practice in Europe, American doctors have been slow to accept the therapy: "Because prescription fish oil is not licensed to prevent heart disease in the United States, drug companies may not legally promote it" the Times states, noting also that his disconnect between what is known about fish oil and its underuse "highlights the central role that drug companies play in disseminating medical information, experts said."

FUNCTION: Fish Oil is used to reduce heart disease risk and combat arrythmia, to help with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and to lower high triglyceride levels. It may also have some use in treating some psychiatric disorders.

Fish oil has also shown promise as an anti-inflammatory treatment for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, and lupus. In addition, it may be helpful for various psychiatric conditions.

The Food and Drug Administration has allowed supplements containing fish oil or its components to carry a label that states: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

SOURCES: Oil from cold-water fatty fish (albacore tuna, halibut, herring, mackerel, lake trout, salmon, and sardines) is the richest natural source of omega-3 fats and contain roughly 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per 3.5 ounces of fish. Some organ meats such as liver and brain are also a good source of this essential fatty acid, and eggs provide some DHA, but in lower amounts.

It is important to remember that the balance of fats you eat is the first, most important step to consider. Dump the hydrogenated fats (found in cookies, margarineand lots of things; read labels!), limit saturated fat intake (dairy, red meat, fried stuff) and increase "good" fat intake.

DOSAGE: The usual oral dose of fish oil for use in hypertriglyceridemia (elevated triglyceride levels) is about 5 grams of combined EPA/DHA daily.

According to the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL), the adequate daily intake of DHA for adults should be at least 220 mg/day (300 mg/day for pregnant and lactating women). In regard to fish oil supplements: 3,000 to 4,000 mg per day are recommended, which is the equivalent of 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish per week

DATA: PWHIV: While one 6-month, double-blind study found that a combination of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil plus the amino acid arginine was no more effective for enhancing immunity in HIV infection, that a placebo, another found that it might help individuals with HIV gain weight.
CAUTIONS: Because of the possible anti-thrombotic (blood-thinning) effect of fish oil supplements, hemophiliacs and those taking warfarin (Coumadin) or on other anticoagulants/blood thinners should exercise caution in their use.

Pregnant or nursing women may want to seek out algae-based DHA supplements, which do not contain EPA, which can impact the DHA / EPA balance, crucial for intfant development.

The New York Times, October 3, 2006: "In Europe It’s Fish Oil After Heart Attacks, but Not in U.S."

The University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine's website also has an excellent entry on DHA.

Max DHA (Jarrow Formulas) Each bottle, 180 softgels. Each softgel, 607 mg. Also contains 5 mg of gamma tocopherol (in the vitamin E family) and 2 mg of ascorbyl palmitate, which, as antioxidants, protect the long-chain fatty acids from being oxidized.
PRODUCT NOTES: From the manufacturer: "Max DHA™ contains highly concentrated Omega-3 fatty acids from ultra purified fish oil and concentrated by molecular distillation, increasing DHA four-fold. Max DHA™ is mixed glycerides, which are better digested than free fatty acid and ethyl ester fish oils."
Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.