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What are good sources of fatty acids if I have multiple sclerosis (MS)?

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), consider increasing intake of N-3 fatty acids, which include EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Fatty fish are the richest sources of N-3 fatty acids. However, some of the studies among people with MS involved amounts that would be difficult to attain from dietary sources alone. N-3 fatty acids, available in supplement form under various labels, may be needed. Rich sources of EPA and DHA include fish oil, salmon oil, and cod liver oil. Labels may simply say "EPA and DHA." Sources of ALA, which may be less effective than EPA and DHA, include flax seed oil and walnut oil. Sometimes, labels will specify "ALA." (Sometimes ALA refers to a different supplement, alpha-lipoic acid. Be sure that you are getting alpha-linolenic acid.) Studies of EPA and DHA in MS have used between 1 and 3 grams daily, obtained from 3 to 10 grams of fish oil. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), up to 3 grams of combined EPA and DHA is safe.

Maintain or slightly increase your intake of N-6 (or omega- 6) fatty acids. "The average American diet is relatively high in N-6 fatty acids and low in N-3 fatty acids, so the single most reasonable strategy may be to increase N-3 intake," Allen C. Bowling, Medical Director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center writes. "Beyond that, and depending on your current diet, it may be reasonable to increase intake of N-6 fatty acids, which are found abundantly in products like corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil. Evening primrose oil also contains a form of N-6 fatty acid, gammalinolenic acid, or GLA."

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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.