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What Will Fish Oil Do for a Fatty Liver?

Fish oil can lower high triglycerides and also appears to help lower your risk for heart disease, but it may not do much if you suffer from liver disease, according to National Institutes of Health online medical encyclopedia Medline Plus 1. Fish oil is potentially valuable for a host of health conditions because it contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Consult your doctor if you have a fatty liver, however, because while it is theoretically beneficial in some cases, it may worsen your condition under other circumstances.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

**A 2011 “Clinical Nutrition” study concluded that fish oil may provide benefits if you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common cause of liver disease in the United States 3. Fish oil appears to reduce further development of a fatty liver, according to the study. However, additional clinical trials are needed before fish oil can be recommended for use in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NASH. The study is significant because as of 2011 no therapies exist for NASH. Recommendations include:

  • losing excess weight
  • exercising more
  • following a balanced diet
  • avoiding unnecessary medicines
  • avoiding alcohol
  • according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse 2
  • A 2011 “Clinical Nutrition” study concluded that fish oil may provide benefits if you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common cause of liver disease in the United States 3.
  • However, additional clinical trials are needed before fish oil can be recommended for use in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NASH.

Expert Insight

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A dosage of 1 g of fish oil daily may be enough to improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to “The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book” by certified nutrition specialist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition Shari Lieberman and Nancy Pauling Bruning, who holds a master's degree in public health. Also, fish oil may not provide a benefit in all cases of NASH. A 2007 “Hepatology” study found that effects on the liver differ depending on the cause of the fatty liver. In mice, fish oil prevents fatty liver induced by sucrose but worsens safflower oil-induced fatty liver 5.

  • A dosage of 1 g of fish oil daily may be enough to improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to “The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book” by certified nutrition specialist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition Shari Lieberman and Nancy Pauling Bruning, who holds a master's degree in public health.

Alcoholic Liver Disease

; 1998'). This leads to more liver damage when alcoholic liver disease is present. Lipid peroxidation is an indication of oxidative stress in tissues or cells. Fish oil has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is extremely susceptible to lipid peroxidation. In cases of alcoholic liver disease, consuming more peroxidable fatty acids appears to lead to greater liver injury, note Farrell and George.

  • This leads to more liver damage when alcoholic liver disease is present.
  • Lipid peroxidation is an indication of oxidative stress in tissues or cells.

Considerations

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If you are interested in using fish oil, consult a doctor first – especially if you have a health condition or take medicine. While fish oil is considered safe for most people when recommended dosages are followed, taking high doses is potentially dangerous because it can keep your blood from clotting, raising your risk for bleeding. This is a concern if you have liver disease, according to National Institutes of Health online medical encyclopedia Medline Plus. High doses also may reduce your immune system function, according to Medline Plus. Fish oil also can make it harder to control blood sugar if you are diabetic, worsen symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder and cause your blood pressure to drop too low if you take blood pressure medications. It interacts with other medicines as well, including blood thinners and birth-control pills.

  • If you are interested in using fish oil, consult a doctor first – especially if you have a health condition or take medicine.
  • While fish oil is considered safe for most people when recommended dosages are followed, taking high doses is potentially dangerous because it can keep your blood from clotting, raising your risk for bleeding.
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