Omega oils are one of the most commonly used supplements for many medical conditions.
What are Omega Oils?
Omega oils are polyunsaturated fats and are divided into two types; Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. As our bodies do not produce Omega oils, we need to get them from the foods. Most people get more than enough Omega 6 oils from vegetable oil, salad dressing and mayonnaise. In fact, doctors recommend reducing consumption of Omega 6-rich foods and increasing consumption of Omega-3 foods. Fish oils are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and the best sources of Omega-3 are fatty fish, including cod, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Unfortunately, these same fish can also contain high levels of mercury. Concerns over toxin levels in fish and difficulty maintaining a diet rich in Omega-3 fish make Omega-3 supplements a viable option for many people.
How Effective are Omega-3 Oils?
The effectiveness of Omega-3 oils is well documented. Studies have shown that Omega-3 oils provide a modest to significant reduction in inflammation. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center published the results of a 2004 study of 250 patients treated with Omega-3 and found that 60% reported reduced pain. The researchers found that Omega-3 oil supplements were effective in reducing inflammation symptoms. Several other studies have confirmed that Omega-3 oil supplements are an effective alternative to NSAIDs and have fewer long-term effects.
How Much Should I Take?
Omega-3 oil supplements are normally taken in a liquid filled capsule, 1 to 3 grams a day, taken 2 to 3 times daily. The effectiveness of Omega-3 oils is due to Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are the two major types of Omega-3 fatty acids and more widely studied for relief from joint stiffness, pain and inflammation. When choosing Omega-3 supplements, try to choose formulations that contain both EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 oils are effective, but they don’t provide fast acting relief. Up to six months of Omega-3 treatment may be required to experience some relief from joint pain symptoms.
Are There Risks and Side Effects?
Omega-3 oils have a low risk of side effects, but patients taking blood thinners or aspirin on a daily basis should first consult their doctor. Some people may experience mild gastrointestinal complaints.
Maroon JC; Bost JW. Surgical Neurology. April 2006; Volume 65, Issue 4, Pages 326-331.