Fatty acids can be classified into saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fatty acids are considered to be unhealthy, and the unsaturated fatty acids (e.g., DHA, EPA, and ALA) are considered to be healthy. The healthier, unsaturated fatty acids can be found in fish oils.
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Fish oils can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements.
Fish oils containing ALA, DHA, and EPA have been commonly used for:
Canada’s Food Guide recommends that people consume at least 2 servings of fish per week.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
Fish oils have shown to reduce triglyceride levels, however, they’re not as effective as prescription medications. It should not replace medications if you have high triglycerides. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if this supplement is right for you before starting it.
Studies have also shown that intake of unsaturated fatty acids such as Omega-3s lower the incidence of death caused by heart attack. There are also studies that show that Omega-3s do not have any positive health effects. However, there is good overall evidence to support the use of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, to reduce heart disease.
Use of fish oils to prevent Alzheimer’s has not been supported by research.
The most common side effects of fish oils include belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea. Large doses of fish oil can affect blood clotting and can increase risk of bleeding if you’re taking other medications such as blood thinners.
If you are allergic to fish or seafood, have liver disease or bipolar disorder, or have an implanted defibrillator, you should avoid use of fish oil.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.