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Fish Oil Benefits and Side Effects

By Gianna Rose

Taking fish oil is beneficial for your health. Fish oil has many proven and suspected health benefits. The benefits are attributed to the anti-inflammatory and clot-inhibiting actions of the omega-3 essential fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, according to Dr. William S. Harris in the March 2004 issue of the "Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine." At least 1 gram of fish oil with a 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA is needed to reap the benefits, notes Harris. You should consult your healthcare provider to find out what dose is right for you.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Strong evidence suggests, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in fish oil decrease triglycerides, which are harmful fats in the blood, while increasing levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol. Evidence also suggests that fish oil protects heart attack survivors from having another heart attack. Men and women who eat fish regularly have a significantly lower chance of developing heart disease. Overall, taking a fish oil supplement regularly is beneficial for your heart.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief

If you have arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, you may benefit from fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and decrease the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that may damage the heart, according to an article by Leslie G. Cleland in the August 2006 issue of the journal "Arthritis Research and Therapy." The symptomatic benefits, which may not be apparent for two to three months, are due to the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil at a dose of at least 2.7 grams per day. Health professionals should consider fish oil an important part of arthritis treatment, the authors say.

Blood Pressure Control

Taking the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may reduce your blood pressure, according to UMMC. The reduction in blood pressure is small but significant. A high dose, which may increase bleeding, is necessary to obtain this benefit. Consult your healthcare provider first.

Side Effects

You may experience an unpleasant fishy taste or burping after taking fish oil. You may avoid this by storing capsules in the freezer or taking liquid fish oil immediately before a meal that doesn't include carbonated beverages. Up to 15 percent of people aren't able to tolerate fish oil due to the taste or the development of diarrhea or headache, but serious side effects haven't been reported, according to Cleland.

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