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4838 E.Baseline Road
Suite 103
Mesa, AZ 85206
Tel: 480.926.8000

Fish Oil

Supplement Spotlight Fish Oil (Omega 3)

The Reason to Take Omega 3 Supplements

A common question we are asked is, “what type of Omega 3 supplement should I be taking?”  To answer that question we need to look at the main benefit we get from Omega 3 fatty acids.  The goal with Omega 3 supplementation is to reduced risk of heart attack and stoke by reducing atherosclerotic plaque in the walls of our arteries.

A Common Misconception

A common misconception is that Omega 3’s reduced cholesterol but in fact they work by reducing circulation triglycerides in the blood stream. It is the combination of cholesterol and triglycerides that lead to the development of plaque within our blood vessels.  High triglycerides especially over 300mg/dl have an increased risk of coronary artery disease and is mainly caused by genetic risk factors and a high carbohydrate diet.

High triglycerides are a strong risk for heart disease in women more than men, so it is an important supplement for women.  High triglycerides along with a high carbohydrate diet can also increase insulin resistance which can eventually lead to Diabetes.

Omega 3 is Not for Everyone

Now we should mention who should avoid taking Omega 3 supplements.  Because Omega 3’s supplements are derived from fish anyone with a fish allergy should avoid taking them. There are Omega 3 supplements that are plant derived but they have yet to be studied to see if they have the same triglyceride lowering effect. Other patients that should avoid the supplements are patients that current take anti-coagulants or blood thinners and patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

EPA vs DHA Debate

So when looking for a supplement of Omega 3 fatty acid our goal is to use a supplement that will lower triglyceride and not increase cholesterol.  Omega 3’s fatty acids are mainly derived from deep sea fish and are made of two components EPA (EicosaPentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexa.

EPA reduces the production of triglycerides in the liver, and enhances the clearance of triglycerides from circulation Very low-density lipoproteins in the blood stream. DHA reduces triglycerides just as EPA does but it also, especially in patient with very high triglycerides, appears to raise LDL the “bad” type of cholesterol.

So now you are probably thinking I need to find an EPA only Omega 3 supplement, but wait there is more.  While DHA causes an increase in “bad” cholesterol it also increases the amount of HDL, the ”good” cholesterol, while EPA has no effect on the good cholesterol. So it is important to get the proper blend of EPA to DHA in your Omega 3 supplement.  We have found that ratio is all over the place in over-the-counter supplements so consult your physician when picking an Omega 3.

Full Circle Health‘s Fish Oil

Here at Full Circle Health we sell our own brand of Omega 3 Fish Oil.  Our version is mainly EPA (660mg) compared to minimal DHA (60mg).  We chose to offer this version of fish oil because most patients we see can not afford to have their Bad Cholesterol increased.  So offering a mainly EPA version while not completely ignoring the benefits of some DHA creates the balance we recommend for most patients.

Other reasons to take Omega 3

Lastly I wanted to touch on other uses of Omega 3 supplementation.  We commonly use Omega 3 supplements in patients with arthritis, especially those with rheumatologic disease, and also for patients that suffer from depression. So over all Omega 3’s are great supplement that most patients can benefit great from. We look forward to your questions about Omega 3’s at your next appointment


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