When choosing fish oil supplements
Look at the amount of EPA and DHA contained in the capsule, tablet or liquid, rather than the fish oil content. For example, the product label on a fish oil supplement may say the following:
Each capsule contains: Fish oil – Natural 1.5g equiv. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 270mg, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 180mg.
- In this example, each capsule has EPA + DHA = 270mg + 180mg = 450mg of omega-3.
- If you are unsure about how to read the labels of fish oil supplements, ask your pharmacist for advice.
- EPA content is the most important for heart health, but very high doses are required (above 1800mg daily) for any benefit.
- Meanwhile the DHA in fish oil supplements can increase LDL cholesterol (‘bad cholesterol’), and high doses can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, bleeding, stomach upset, abnormal liver tests and rash.
Not all fish oil supplements are created equally. It is possible that omega-3 fatty acids might be lower than those stipulated on the labels because unsaturated fatty acids are susceptible to oxidation and degradation.
Interactions with medicines
Omega-3 can have blood thinning effects when taken in high doses. Seek medical advice before taking doses of omega-3 supplements, especially if you are taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin.
Although the risk of allergic reactions to fish oil supplements is considered to be low in people allergic to fish due to the method of purification, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before taking fish oil supplements. Read more(external link)