Thursday, April 5, 2012



A lot of the benefit of fish oil seems to come from the omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. Interestingly, the body does not produce its own omega-3 fatty acids. Nor can the body make omega-3 fatty acids from omega-6 fatty acids, which are common in the Western diet. A lot of research has been done on EPA and DHA, two types of omega-3 acids that are often included in fish oil supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce pain and swelling. This may explain why fish oil is likely effective for psoriasis and dry eyes. These fatty acids also prevent the blood from clotting easily. This might make fish oil helpful for some heart conditions.

The cardioprotective mechanisms of omega-3 FAs appear to be based on
the incorporation of EPA and DHA into cell membranes, altering the membrane’s physical characteristics and the activity of membranebound proteins.  EPA undergoes conversion into a wide variety of bioactive
prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, and eicosanoids resolvins. It
also acts as a ligand for several nuclear transcription factors via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors and their role in lipid metabolism, inflammation, and atherosclerosis via modulation in cell-cholesterol trafficking and inflammatory activity, consequently altering gene expression.  Also, a variety of intracellular messages are triggered.

Recent studies point to the importance of EPA not only in terms of decreasing the formation of atherosclerotic plaque and decreasing embolic stroke, but also in terms of their ability to improve endothelial function, reverse atherosclerotic plaques over time, and increase arterial elasticity.  While the benefit is clearly multifactorial, the relative importance of each of these actions, the manner in which they co-ordinate, and their ability to explain clinical results are being explored. The overall health benefits of omega-3 allow the clinician to provide the patient with a cardiac treatment that has positive health benefits without adverse effects.