Who should take a fish oil supplement?

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Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

If you eat enough foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, you may not need to take a fish oil supplement. If your dietitian or healthcare provider has recommended taking omega-3 fatty acids, be sure your supplement contains the amounts he or she recommends. To figure the total amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the supplement, add the grams of EPA and DHA together.

Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D.
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Fish oil supplements have been proven to be helpful for those living with depression. It is necessary to talk with your psychiatrist before adding fish oil to your treatment plan. Although, fish oil has not been shown to be an added benefit in schizophrenia, those living with schizophrenia are more likely to die 25 years earlier than the general public, usually due to metabolic syndrome. Since omega 3's (in fish oil) are recommended by the American Heart Association (eat fatty fish 3 times a week), it makes sense for those living with schizophrenia to discuss fish oil supplements with their treatment team to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

A fish oil supplement can be an excellent addition to any healthy diet. However, some people have an increased need to supplement their omega-3 and omega-6's. Individuals with cardiac disease, high triglycerides and high cholesterol may benefit from a fish oil supplement. Fish oil has also been shown to help those with arthritis, auto-immune disorders, inflammation and mental health. The World Health Organization recommends starting dosages of fish oil at 300-500 mg per day.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

People who find it difficult to eat fish regularly may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all   adults try to eat two fish meals a week, preferably meals that include fatty fish such as salmon. On top of that, the AHA recommends that people with heart disease or certain risk factors talk to their doctors about taking fish oil supplements.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates fish oil supplements as "likely effective" for helping prevent people with heart disease from dying from it. Taking fish oil supplements is particularly effective at lowering high triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Don't take more than 3 grams a day without talking to your doctor, however. If you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medications, check with your doctor first to make sure fish oil supplements are safe for you.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.