Fish Oil And Triglycerides
How’s that for clear and unequivocal.
Of the many health benefits of fish oil with Omega-3, reduction of triglycerides is one of the most significant and most clearly established.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are fats in your blood, like cholesterol.
Your body requires some triglycerides, but too much can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
For those who want more detail, here is how triglycerides are formed.
Carbohydrates that you eat are converted into glucose which is used for energy by your cells. Excess glucose, that is more than your cells need, is sent back to your liver where it is converted into glycogen.
Glycogen is stored in the muscles, but when you reach your capacity for glycogen, excess glycogen is sent back to your liver (as was excess glucose) where it is converted into triglycerides.
Triglycerides are stored as fat. Unfortunately, we all have experience with that.
However, some of the triglycerides are not stored as fat. Instead, they remain in your blood stream. And excess triglycerides in your blood make it more susceptible to clotting and blockages which could eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
What Causes High Triglycerides?
These are some of the causes of high triglycerides:
- Excessive intake of alcohol, saturated and trans fats, sugar, starch, and calories
- Weight gain
- Lack of exercise
- Skipping meals
- Eating large portions of food at one time
- Medicines such as birth control pills, steroids, and diuretics
- Medical conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes, insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and liver disease
When Are Your Triglycerides Too High?
Triglyceride levels are measured through a blood test.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this is what your blood test triglyceride level result means . . .
Borderline-high – 150-199 mg/dL
High – 200-499 mg/dL
Very high – 500 mg/dL or above
Why Does Fish Oil Reduce Triglycerides?
The component of fish oil that makes it effective reducing triglycerides is Omega 3 which is a fatty acid. That’s right, although it sounds incongruous, fats actually help reduce blood fats. That’s because Omega 3 is a form of “good fat” which is very different from the harmful saturated fats that we take in through fast foods and the like.
There are actually three different Omega 3 fatty acids and they all reduce triglycerides.
One form is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and it is found in flax seed oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and, to a lesser degree, in walnuts, dairy products, beans, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.
ALA has been shown to reduce triglycerides but not nearly as effectively as the other two types of Omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are found primarily in cold water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, hoki and albacore tuna.
Research has shown that DHA and EPA can reduce triglyceride levels by 25% to 35%, or even more.
What Is The Proper Dosage Of Omega 3 To Reduce Triglycerides?
The triglyceride lowering effects of Omega 3 appear to be dose-dependent. That means that the more you take, the more your triglycerides are lowered.
HOWEVER, a high intake of Omega-3 fatty acids can cause bleeding in some people. Therefore, you should not take more than 3 grams of Omega 3 from supplements without being under a doctor’s care.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your doctor may direct that you take 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA daily which research has shown can lower triglycerides approximately 25 % to 35 %.
The Best Source Of Triglyceride-Lowering DHA And EPA
If you are taking DHA and EPA Omega 3s protectively, to prevent your triglycerides from increasing to dangerous levels, you can eat fatty fish such as those that I just listed at least twice a week. That should give you the full benefit of Omega 3 in lowering triglycerides.
If you can’t consistently eat that much fish, or if you are concerned about fish being contaminated by mercury, PCBs and other toxins, you can take a fish oil supplement.
And, of course, if you are taking fish oil to reduce high triglycerides, you should take the amount of the supplement that your physician recommends.
Whether you are taking fish oil for treatment of high triglycerides or for prevention of high triglycerides, I recommend Omega 3 DHA fish oil supplement from Extend-Life Natural Products.