Although many articles full of hype around Fish OilDHACod Liver OilOmega-36& 9and miscellaneous other oils have been making their rounds around the mediaI hadn't honestly paid much attention to the hype. Suremy kids take multi-vitamins and when they had formula they had those rich in DHA...we eat fish for the Omega-3'sand I took extra prenatals that were DHA/some oil or another for brain development...but that's about all the interest I put in to it.
That was until the past month or sowhen I stumbled upon a few articles in regards to fish oil in helping mental health patientsas well as rebuilding the brain of an addict after it was destroyed due to a long-term addiction to methamphetamines. No worriesit wasn't a personal interest in these articles...but I especially know that meth is a nastynasty drug and I know that it basically eats holes in your brain after very extensive use. Many people even suffer from stroke and serious brain injuries from this disgusting addiction. Since I am finishing up my bachelors degree in psychologyand hoping to pursue my masters degree in counseling of some sortI have been really exploring different therapeutic and counseling specialties to try to determine where I'm going with this school stuff. Anywayabout this article...this guy was addicted for about 5 yearsand after 5 months of taking extreme daily dosages of fish oilhe reversed much of the damage. He found himself out of the cloud that had surrounded himcould think clearly againhe crawled his way out of depressionetc.
This article is what actually sprung my interest in fish oiland it's possibilities in helping my 'lil man living with hydranencephaly. This addict destroyed his own brainpossibly suffered strokesbut helped to make those brain connections once again with the help of fish oil. There MUST be something more that I am missing...so I asked my pediatrician.
I should just know better than to do thatsupplements and such aren't big deals in the world of modern medicine. Some of these treatments and their immense powerjust are viewed as alternative treatments and not really viewed as being effective in most cases. Soof course I did my own research...and in doing soit seems like I have overlooked this topic mentioned before!? It's been right there in my reading beforeand for some reason I completely skimmed right over it...strange!
When all else seems confusingand even a bit contradictory...I always go to the Mayo Clinic Web site simply to gather a greater knowledge from a mainstream medical perspective. Here is the information on fish oil I found there:
Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant/nut oils. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)while some nuts (English walnuts) and vegetable oils (canolasoybeanflaxseed/linseedolive) contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
There is evidence from multiple studies supporting intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglyceridesreduces the risk of deathheart attackdangerous abnormal heart rhythmsand strokes in people with known cardiovascular diseaseslows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries")and lowers blood pressure slightly. Howeverhigh doses may have harmful effectssuch as an increased risk of bleeding. Although similar benefits are proposed for alpha-linolenic acidscientific evidence is less compellingand beneficial effects may be less pronounced.
Some species of fish carry a higher risk of environmental contaminationsuch as with methylmercury.
A.High blood pressure
Multiple human trials report small reductions in blood pressure with intake of omega-3 fatty acid. DHA may have greater benefits than EPA. Howeverhigh intakes of omega-3 fatty acids per day may be necessary to obtain clinically relevant effectsand at this dose levelthere is an increased risk of bleeding. Thereforea qualified healthcare provider should be consulted prior to starting treatment with supplements.
A.Hypertriglyceridemia (fish oil / EPA plus DHA)
There is strong scientific evidence from human trials that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements (EPA + DHA) significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels. Benefits appear to be dose-dependent. Fish oil supplements also appear to cause small improvements in high-density lipoprotein ("good cholesterol"); howeverincreases (worsening) in low-density lipoprotein levels (LDL/"bad cholesterol") are also observed. It is not clear if alpha-linolenic acid significantly affects triglyceride levelsand there is conflicting evidence in this area. The American Heart Association has published recommendations for EPA + DHA. Because of the risk of bleeding from omega-3 fatty acidsa qualified healthcare provider should be consulted prior to starting treatment with supplements. There is growing evidence that reducing C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is beneficial towards favorable cardiovascular outcomesalthough additional research is pending in this area. The data on fish oils and CRP levels is mixed.
A.Secondary cardiovascular disease prevention (fish oil / EPA plus DHA)
Several well-conducted randomized controlled trials report that in people with a history of heart attackregular consumption of oily fish or fish oil/omega-3 supplements reduces the risk of non-fatal heart attackfatal heart attacksudden deathand all-cause mortality (death due to any cause). Most patients in these studies were also using conventional heart drugssuggesting that the benefits of fish oils may add to the effects of other therapies.
B.Primary cardiovascular disease prevention (fish intake)
Several large studies of populations ("epidemiologic" studies) report a significantly lower rate of death from heart disease in men and women who regularly eat fish. Other epidemiologic research reports no such benefits. It is not clear if reported benefits only occur in certain groups of peoplesuch as those at risk of developing heart disease. Overallthe evidence suggests benefits of regular consumption of fish oil. Howeverwell-designed randomized controlled trials which classify people by their risk of developing heart disease are necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
B.Protection from cyclosporine toxicity in organ transplant patients
There are multiple studies of heart transplant and kidney transplant patients taking cyclosporine (Neoral®)who were administered fish oil supplements. The majority of trials report improvements in kidney functionand less high blood pressure compared to patients not taking fish oil. Although several recent studies report no benefits on kidney functionthe weight of scientific evidence favors the beneficial effects of fish oil.
B.Rheumatoid arthritis (fish oil)
Multiple randomized controlled trials report improvements in morning stiffness and joint tenderness with the regular intake of fish oil supplements for up to three months. Benefits have been reported as additive with anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs (like ibuprofen or aspirin). Howeverbecause of weaknesses in study designs and reportingbetter research is necessary before a strong favorable recommendation can be made. Effects beyond three months of treatment have not been well evaluated.
Preliminary studies report reductions in angina associated with fish oil intake. Better research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Several studies in this area do not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusionwith some studies reporting no effectsand others finding benefits. Because most studies have been small without clear descriptions of design or resultsthe results cannot be considered conclusive.
Some research reports that regular intake of fish or fish oil supplements reduces the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries of the heartwhile other research reports no effects. Additional evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn in this area.
Several studies in this area do not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion.
Several population (epidemiologic) studies report that dietary omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil may reduce the risk of developing breastcolonor prostate cancer. Randomized controlled trials are necessary before a clear conclusion can be drawn.
C.Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
There is promising evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of cardiac arrhythmias. This is one proposed mechanism behind the reduced number of heart attacks in people who regularly ingest fish oil or EPA + DHA. Additional research is needed in this area specifically before a firm conclusion can be reached.
Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly taken by cancer patients. Although preliminary studies report that growth of colon cancer cells may be reduced by taking fish oileffects on survival or remission have not been measured adequately.
It has been suggested that effects of omega-3 fatty acids on inflammation may be beneficial in patients with Crohn's disease when added to standard therapyand several studies have been conducted in this area. Results are conflictingand no clear conclusion can be drawn at this time.
A small amount of research in this area does not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion.
Well-designed clinical trials are needed before omega-3 fatty acids can be recommended for the prevention of cognitive impairment or dementia.
Several studies on the use of omega 3 fatty acids in depressionincluding positive results in postpartum depressiondo not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion or replace standard treatments. Howeverbased on one recent studyomega-3 fatty acids may have therapeutic benefits in childhood depression. Promising initial evidence requires confirmation with largerwell-designed trials.
C.Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
There is preliminary evidence suggesting possible benefits of fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids in patients with dysmenorrhea. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached.
Several studies of EPA for eczema do not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion.
There are conflicting results from several trials in this area.
C.Infant eye / brain development
Well-designed research is necessary before a clear conclusion can be reached.
There is not enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion in this area.
There is not enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion in this area.
Several studies of fish oil do not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion in this area.
C.Prevention of graft failure after heart bypass surgery
There is limited study of the use of fish oils in patients after undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Additional evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn in this area.
C.Prevention of restenosis after coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
Several randomized controlled trials have evaluated whether omega-3 fatty acid intake reduces blockage of arteries in the heart following balloon angioplasty (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty/PTCA). The evidence in this area remains inconclusive.
C.Primary cardiovascular disease prevention (#945;-linolenic acid [ALA])
Additional research is necessary before a conclusion can be drawn in this area.
Several studies in this area do not provide enough reliable evidence to form a clear conclusion.
There is promising preliminary evidence from several randomized controlled trials in this area. Additional research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached.
C.Secondary cardiovascular disease prevention (#945;-linolenic acid [ALA])
Several randomized controlled trials have examined the effects of alpha-linolenic acid in people with a history of heart attack. Although some studies suggest benefitsothers do not. Additional research is necessary before a conclusion can be drawn in this area.
Several large studies of populations ("epidemiologic" studies) have examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acid intake on stroke risk. Some studies suggest benefitswhile others do not. Effects are likely on ischemic or thrombotic stroke riskand very large intakes of omega-3 fatty acids ("Eskimo" amounts) may actually increase the risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. At this timeit is unclear if there are benefits in people with or without a history of strokeor if effects of fish oil are comparable to other treatment strategies.
It has been suggested that effects of omega-3 fatty acids on inflammation may be beneficial in patients with ulcerative colitis when added to standard therapyand several studies have been conducted in this area. Better research is necessary before a clear conclusion can be drawn.
D.Appetite / weight loss in cancer patients
There is preliminary evidence that fish oil supplementation does not improve appetite or prevent weight loss in cancer patients. Further study is warranted.
The available scientific evidence suggests that there are no significant long-term effects of fish oil in patients with diabetes. Most studies in this area are not well designed.
Although fish oil is able to reduce triglyceridesbeneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels have not been demonstrated. Fish oil supplements appear to cause small improvements in high-density lipoprotein ("good cholesterol"); howeverincreases (worsening) in low-density lipoprotein levels ("bad cholesterol") are also observed. Fish oil does not appear to affect C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.
D.Transplant rejection prevention (kidney and heart)
There are multiple studies of heart transplant and kidney transplant patients taking cyclosporine (Neoral®)who were administered fish oil supplements. The majority of trials report improvements in kidney function (glomerular filtration rateserum creatinine)and less hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to patients not taking fish oil. Howeverseveral recent studies report no benefits on kidney functionand no changes have been found in rates of rejection or graft survival.
Key to grades
A Strong scientific evidence for this use
B Good scientific evidence for this use
C Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)
Uses based on research
Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)age related macular degenerationaggressive behavioragoraphobiaAIDSallergiesAlzheimer's diseaseanticoagulationantiphospholipid syndromeattention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)anthracycline-induced cardiac toxicitybacterial infectionspsychological disorders (borderline personality disorder)breast cystsbreast tendernesschronic fatigue syndrome (postviral fatigue syndrome)chronic obstructive pulmonary diseasecirrhosiscommon coldcongestive heart failurecritical illnessdeficiency (omega-3 fatty acid)dermatomyositisdiabetic nephropathydiabetic neuropathydyslexiadyspraxiaendocrine disorders (glycogen storage diseases)exercise performance enhancementfibromyalgiagallstonesgingivitisglaucomaglomerulonephritisgouthay feverheadachehepatorenal syndromehypoxiaichthyosis (skin disorder)immunosuppressioninflammatory conditions (Behcet's syndrome)joint problems (cartilage repair)kidney disease preventionkidney stonesleprosyleukemiamalariamale infertilitymastalgia (breast pain)memory enhancementmenopausal symptomsmenstrual crampsmethotrexate toxicitymultiple sclerosismyopathynephritis (autoimmune)neuropathynight vision enhancementobesityosteoarthritisosteoporosisotitis media (ear infection)panic disorderperipheral vascular diseasepregnancy nutritional supplementpremature birth preventionpremenstrual syndromeprostate cancer preventionprotection from isotretinoin drug toxicityRaynaud's phenomenonRefsum's syndromeretinitis pigmentosaReye's syndromeseizure disorderSjogren's syndromesuicide preventionsystemic lupus erythematosustardive dyskinesiatennis elbowulcerative colitisurolithiasis (bladder stones)vision enhancementweight loss.
Side Effects and Warnings
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies intake of up to 3 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids from fish as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). Caution may be warrantedhoweverin diabetic patients due to potential (albeit unlikely) increases in blood sugar levelspatients at risk of bleedingor in those with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Fish meat may contain methylmercury and caution is warranted in young children and pregnant/breastfeeding women.
Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleedingalthough there is little evidence of significant bleeding risk at lower doses. Very large intakes of fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids ("Eskimo" amounts) may increase the risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. High doses have also been associated with nosebleed and blood in the urine. Fish oils appear to decrease platelet aggregation and prolong bleeding timeincrease fibrinolysis (breaking down of blood clots)and may reduce von Willebrand factor.
Potentially harmful contaminants such as dioxinsmethylmercuryand polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are found in some species of fish. Methylmercury accumulates in fish meat more than in fish oiland fish oil supplements appear to contain almost no mercury. Thereforesafety concerns apply to eating fish but likely not to ingesting fish oil supplements. Heavy metals are most harmful in young children and pregnant/nursing women.
Gastrointestinal upset is common with the use of fish oil supplements. Diarrhea may also occurwith potentially severe diarrhea at very high doses. There are also reports of increased burpingacid reflux/heartburn/indigestionabdominal bloatingand abdominal pain. Fishy aftertaste is a common effect. Gastrointestinal side effects can be minimized if fish oils are taken with meals and if doses are started low and gradually increased.
Multiple human trials report small reductions in blood pressure with intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Reductions of 2-5 mmHg have been observedand effects appear to be dose-responsive (higher doses have greater effects). DHA may have greater effects than EPA. Caution is warranted in patients with low blood pressure or in those taking blood-pressure lowering medications.
Although slight increases in fasting blood glucose levels have been noted in patients with type 2 ("adult onset") diabetesthe available scientific evidence suggests that there are no significant long-term effects of fish oil in patients with diabetesincluding no changes in hemoglobin A 1c levels. Limited reports in the 1980s of increased insulin needs in diabetic patients taking long-term fish oils may be related to other dietary changes or weight gain.
Fish oil taken for many months may cause a deficiency of vitamin Eand therefore vitamin E is added to many commercial fish oil products. As a resultregular use of vitamin E-enriched products may lead to elevated levels of this fat-soluble vitamin. Fish liver oil contains the fat-soluble vitamins A and Dand therefore fish liver oil products (such as cod liver oil) may increase the risk of vitamin A or D toxicity.
Increases (worsening) in low-density lipoprotein levels ("bad cholesterol") by 5-10% are observed with intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Effects are dose-dependent.
Mild elevations in liver function tests (alanine aminotransferase) have been reported rarely.
Skin rashes have been reported rarely.
There are rare reports of mania in patients with bipolar disorder or major depression. Restlessness and formication (the sensation of ants crawling on the skin) have also been reported.
That being saidfrom the mainstream medical perspectivejust as with any supplement or even prescription medicationsthere are many positives and many side effects associated. It is just a matter of weighing the pros and the cons and making the best choice possible for yourself or your child.
Another great source for me is from Dr. Steenblock who is the Founder and Director of The Brain Therapeutics Medical Clinic in Mission ViegoCalifornia. He is no less than a pioneer in brain repairworking with not only stroke patientsbut also those with cerebral palsytraumatic brain injuriesParkinson's diseaseautismmigrainesand even Alzheimer's disease. I have read a great many articles by and about Dr. Steenblock as an osteopathic physicianwho is very well versed in biochemistry (stem-cells especially)nutritionand safeeffective therapies for patients suffering from many chronic degenerative diseases. Here is a blip about what he has to say about fish oil:
Fish oilstaken orallyare also used in brain repair treatment. Cod liver oil is especially important for structural brain problems. The vitamin A and vitamin Dwhich cod liver oil containshelp push nerve growth hormone production in the brain. Fish oils make the red blood cells more flexibleallowing them to get through the small capillaries that have been damaged from brain injury. Once inside the damaged tissuesthe red cells are able to deliver oxygen and this starts the repair process.
Irregularities of the blood vessels’ inner linings are produced by inflammationinfection or atherosclerosis. These roughenedirregular blood vessel linings initiate the formation of tiny blood clots. As the body breaks these blood clots downthe small fragments resulting circulate back to the liver to increase the formation of the clotting protein fibrinogen. The more fibrinogen contained in your bloodthe more likely it is for you to have a heart attack or stroke since this material is what causes blood to clot. Levels greater than 320 are associated with higher risks of heart attack and stroke and decreased tissue oxygenation. The more inflammationinfection or roughness of the inner linings of the blood vesselsthe more fibrinogen is produced and the greater your risk. This endless cycle must be interfered with to prevent future problems in those with brain injuries. Fish oil lowers the fibrinogen levels and helps prevent strokes and heart attacks in those people with elevated fibrinogens.
Another piece about fish oilwhich gives the importance of which brand and types to use and why is here:
But don’t be fooled. Manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagonmarketing omega 3 in their food productsbut in many cases this is omega 3 derived from plants (ALA) rather than marine sources (DHA/EPA). This exacerbates the problem. Omega 3 ALA is converted in the body into omega 6 —only a low percent of ALA actually converts into DHA (2-5%) and EPA (5-10%.) And part of the reason fish oil is so important is that the ideal balance of omega 6 to omega 3 should be 1 to 1. In our modern dietsthis ratio is more like 20 to 1 in favor of ALA. This is primarily due to the pervasive presence of vegetable oil in most of our processed foods. Even if the label says Omega 3 and lists DHA and EPAcheck to see if the source isn’t seed oil.
High quality fish oil does not taste fishyit’s actually relatively tasteless. Look for something that you can take 2-6 grams of DHA+EPA in a reasonable dose (e.g. one tablespoonor two pillsshould give you over 1 gram.) Studies at the University of Minnesota have found that emulsified fish oil is absorbed 71% better than capsules.
Soafter much more reading than I have provided hereI made the decision to try fish oil for a while. I also posted to various online support groups for more feedback from parents who give this to their childrenand found it to be of more benefit in all casesthan it to have adverse side effects. I researched what type to purchaseand what dosage to give... Starting todayBrayden is taking 1000mg a day of pure fish oil/300mg of which is straight Omega-3's from fish (anchovymackerel& sardine specifically). I believe that this supplement's ability to support vital functions in the bodyparticularly maintaining circulationensuring strong joint functionskin healthboosting immunitybuilding greater brain functionand promoting healthy vision; all outweigh the possible side effects. It was recommended to give Brayden the full adult dosage due to his conditionin the hopes that it will help to achieve greater functioningbut if it causes too many problems I can lower the dosage to .7grams which is the dosage size for a typically developing child.
In some cases that children are receiving fish oil dailyand have extra special medical necessities and learning delaysthe children showed great progress...vocalizing morebecoming more mobiledeveloping skills previously not displayed...there is great hopealwaysand possibly even more so with the addition of this supplement. Follow along at Brayden's CB page to see his progress.