Many physicians refer patients to fish oil for a variety of ailments
A daily fish oil supplement could be better than an apple for keeping the doctor away for a wealth of reasons.
Dr. Patrick Withrow, vice president and chief medical officer at Western Baptist Hospital, said several studies show fish oil reduces the risk of congestive heart disease, heart attack and stroke. By taking 1,000 milligrams of fish oil per day, a person may stabilize heart rate and lower the risk of sudden death.
“Fish oil raises the good cholesterol levels in the blood and this is a component removing and replacing bad cholesterol. It also decreases triglycerides and prevents premature hardening of the arteries,” Withrow said.
Withrow added fish oil also decreases platelet formation reducing chances of a clot forming in the blood blocking arteries and causing infarctions, heart attacks and strokes. While reducing platelet formation, it does not substantially raise a patient’s risk of bleeding.
“Fish oil is also a good anti-inflammatory agent,” Withrow said. “It can reduce pain in joints, menstrual pain and has been shown to soothe the inflammation in auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.”
Withrow said some studies indicate fish oil benefits the brain. People taking a regular supplement show improved cognitive function and may have a lower risk of premature dementia. It could improve emotional well-being and women who take fish oil show a lower risk of postpartum depression. He added prisoners given a fish oil supplement display less aggression.
Several studies indicate fish oil reduces the risk of cancer. Withrow said a daily supplement decreases the risk of colorectal, prostate, testicular and breast cancers. Fish oil also decreases hunger signals and helps with weight loss, improves the efficiency of exercise and body shape.
“There is a small, but very real effect when taking fish oil. There is a reason to eat oily fish or take a supplement. I don’t see a lot of negatives to taking the proper amount, and see a lot of upside,” Withrow said.
The recommended dose is 1,000 milligrams per day, Withrow added.
Dr. Brandy Trice, pharmacist at Rick’s Pharmacy, said she has noticed an increase in sales. Many of her customers seek fish oil supplements for cardiovascular health and to lower cholesterol. The supplements are popular with customers of all ages, and many physicians refer them for fish oil for a variety of ailments.
“The main problem with fish oil is with patients on different blood thinners like Coumadin or Plavix,” Trice said. “With these medicines, fish oil could make blood too thin. There are no other conditions that contraindicate fish oil use. People with shellfish allergies might want to be careful or avoid it.”
Gayen Christine, store manager of Heath Health Foods in Lone Oak, said fish oil remains a popular item in the store. Customers seek it to improve hair and skin appearance, help lower cholesterol and provide better cardiovascular health. For those not wanting to take a supplement, she suggests eating more fish.
“Usually the best are the deep, cold water fish like salmon and cod, but you might not want to eat fish more than twice a week because of mercury. 1,000 milligrams of a supplement per day is enough to give you the benefits,” Christine said.
Contact Alan Reed, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8658.