Supplements Details

Fish Oil

What other names is Fish Oil known by?

Aceite de Pescado, Acides Gras Oméga-3, Acides Gras Oméga 3, Acides Gras Oméga 3 Sous Forme Ester Éthylique, Acides Gras N-3, Acides Gras Polyinsaturés N-3, Acides Gras W3, ACPI, Cod Liver Oil, EPA/DHA Ethyl Ester, Ester Éthylique de l'AEP/ADH, Fish Body Oil, Herring Oil, Huile de Foie de Morue, Huile de Hareng, Huile de Menhaden, Huile de Poisson, Huile de Saumon, Huile de Thon, Huile Lipidique Marine, Huile Marine, Huiles Marines, Lipides Marins, Marine Lipid Concentrate, Marine Fish Oil, Marine Lipid Oil, Marine Lipids, Marine Oil, Marine Oils, Marine Triglyceride, Menhaden Oil, N-3 Fatty Acids, N3-polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Omega 3, Oméga 3, Omega-3, Oméga-3, Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Omega-3 Marine Triglycerides, PUFA, Salmon Oil, Triglycérides Marins, Tuna Fish Oil, Tuna Oil, W-3 Fatty Acids.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements. Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber.

Is Fish Oil effective?

Fish oils can significantly reduce blood levels of a kind of fat called triglycerides. This might help lower the chance of developing heart disease.

There is some scientific evidence that fish oils might have other benefits for the heart. Fish oils seem to help to prevent a second heart attack if started within hours of the first attack and continued for a year. Fish oils might also lower blood pressure in some people who have high blood pressure.

Fish oils might also be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis seem to be less stiff in the morning if they take fish oils.

There is also some evidence that fish oils can help prevent migraine headaches in some people.

However, fish oils do not help atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries." They also do not seem to help for some other conditions people use them for such as gum infections, lupus, kidney or liver disease, or leg pain due to blood flow problems.

There isn't enough information to know if fish oils are effective for the other conditions people use them for, including: asthma, cancer, lung disease, hay fever, cystic fibrosis and many more.

Effective for...

  • Lowering fats called triglycerides.

Likely Effective for...

  • Preventing heart disease and heart attacks.

Possibly Effective for...

  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart failure.
  • Reducing stiffness and pain related to rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea).
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
  • Abnormal sensitivity to cold (Raynaud's syndrome).
  • Preventing stroke. Moderate fish consumption (once or twice a week) seems to lower stroke risk, but very high fish consumption might increase stroke risk.
  • Osteoporosis, alone or in combination with calcium and evening primrose oil.
  • Preventing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Preventing kidney problems.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Depression, when taken with conventional antidepressant medications.
  • Weight loss.
  • Endometrial cancer.
  • Preventing eye disease (age-related maculopathy).
  • Reducing the risk of blood vessel re-blockage after heart bypass surgery or "balloon" catheterization (balloon angioplasty).
  • Preventing recurrent miscarriage in pregnant women with antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Preventing high blood pressure and kidney problems after heart transplant.
  • Preventing damage to the kidneys and high blood pressure caused by taking a drug called cyclosporine.
  • Improving movement disorders in children, in combination with evening primrose oil, thyme oil, and vitamin E (Efalex).
  • Preventing blockage of grafts used in kidney dialysis. Psoriasis when used intravenously.
  • Lowering cholesterol.
  • Slowing weight loss in patients with advanced cancer.
  • Asthma in children.
  • Developmental coordination disorder.
  • Dry eye syndrome.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Gum infection (gingivitis).
  • Liver disease.
  • Leg pain due to blood flow problems (claudication).
  • Preventing migraine headaches.
  • Preventing muscle soreness caused by physical exercise.
  • Breast pain.
  • Skin rashes caused by allergic reactions.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Loss of appetite in people with advanced cancer.

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Type 2 diabetes.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Irregular heartbeat called ventricular arrhythmia; cataracts; lung disease; pneumonia; hayfever; cystic fibrosis; chronic fatigue syndrome; decreased kidney function; inflammatory bowel disease; Alzheimer's disease; complications during pregnancy; improving infant development; glaucoma; eczema in infants; schizophrenia; Lyme disease; systemic lupus erythematosus (an immune system disorder); "prediabetes," preventing cancers such as oral and pharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer; improving night vision in children with a disorder called dyslexia, and other conditions.

How does Fish Oil work?

Fish oils contain certain "fatty acids" that reduce pain and swelling. These fatty acids also prevent the blood from clotting easily. This might make fish oils helpful for some heart conditions.

Are there safety concerns?

Fish oil is safe for most people. It can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals or freezing them can often decrease these side effects. Some fish meats are contaminated with mercury and other industrial and environmental chemicals. Fish oil supplements typically do not contain these contaminants.

Taking fish oil supplements can increase levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol in some people. You will need blood tests periodically to ensure LDL cholesterols do not become too high.

High doses of fish oil might keep blood from clotting and can INCREASE the chance of bleeding.

Do not take fish oil if:

  • You have liver disease.
  • You are allergic to fish or seafood.
  • You have a condition called bipolar disorder.
  • You have an implantable defibrillator (a surgically placed device to prevent irregular heartbeat).

Are there any interactions with medications?

Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

There is some evidence that birth control pills might interfere with the triglyceride-lowering effects of fish oil.

Some of these drugs include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Using fish oil with drugs that lower blood pressure can increase the effects of these drugs and may lower blood pressure too much.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) might keep the beneficial fatty acids in fish oil from being absorbed by the body. Taking fish oil and orlistat (Xenical, Alli) at least 2 hours apart may keep this from happening.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Using fish oil with medications that slow clotting may cause bleeding.

Some of these drugs include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), dipyridamole (Persantine), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. The body breaks down warfarin (Coumadin) to get rid of it. Fish oil might increase the breakdown and decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Decreasing the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the risk of clotting. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Dosing considerations for Fish Oil.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For high triglycerides: 1-4 grams/day of fish oil.
  • For high blood pressure: Either 4 grams of fish oil or fish oil providing 2.04 grams of EPA and 1.4 grams of DHA per day.
  • For atrial fibrillation (one of the chambers of the heart doesn't empty properly and this increases the risk of blood clot formation leading to stroke): Eating tuna or baked or broiled fish providing omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) one or more times per week seems to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients aged 65 or older compared to consuming fish once per month or less. But there is no benefit from eating fried fish or a fish sandwich.
  • For kidney problems related to using cyclosporine to prevent organ transplant rejection: 12 grams/day containing 2.2 grams EPA and 1.4 grams DHA.
  • For reducing the overall risk of death and risk of sudden death in patients with coronary heart disease: Fish oil providing 0.3-6 grams of EPA with 0.6 to 3.7 grams of DHA.
  • For asthma in children: Fish oil providing 17-26.8 mg/kg EPA and 7.3-11.5 mg/kg DHA for reducing symptoms. Maternal ingestion of fish oil 4 grams daily, providing 32% EPA and 23% DHA with tocopherol, during late-phase pregnancy has been used for preventing the development of asthma in children.
  • For preventing childhood allergies: Maternal ingestion of fish oil 4 grams daily, providing 32% EPA and 23% DHA with tocopherol, during late-phase pregnancy.
  • For preventing childhood atopic dermatitis: Maternal ingestion of fish oil 4 grams daily, providing 32% EPA and 23% DHA with tocopherol, during late-phase pregnancy.
  • For treating asthma: 17-26.8 mg/kg EPA and 7.3-11.5 mg/kg DHA.
  • For preventing and reversing the progression of hardening of the arteries: 6 grams/day of fish oil for the first three months, followed by 3 grams/day thereafter.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis: Fish oil providing 3.8 grams/day of EPA and 2 grams/day DHA.
  • For attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A specific supplement containing fish oil 400 mg and evening primrose oil 100 mg (Eye Q, Novasel) six capsules daily.
  • For preventing miscarriage in women with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and a history of past miscarriage: 5.1 grams fish oil with a 1.5 EPA:DHA ratio.
  • For painful menstrual periods: A daily dose of EPA 1080 mg and DHA 720 mg.
  • For Raynaud's syndrome: A daily dose of 3.96 grams EPA and 2.64 grams DHA.
  • For weight loss: A daily serving of 2-7 ounces of fish containing approximately 3.65 grams omega-3 fatty acids (0.66 gram from EPA and 0.60 gram from DHA).
  • For slowing weight loss in patients with cancer: 7.5 grams/day of fish oil providing EPA 4.7 grams and DHA 2.8 grams.
  • For improving movement disorders in children with poor coordination (dyspraxia): Fish oil providing DHA 480 mg combined with 35 mg arachidonic acid and 96 mg gamma-alpha linoleic acid from evening primrose oil, 24 mg thyme oil, and 80 mg vitamin E (Efalex).
  • For developmental coordination disorder in children: Fish oil providing EPA 558 mg and DHA 174 in 3 divided doses.
  • For depression along with conventional antidepressants: Fish oil 9.6 grams/day.
  • To prevent full psychosis from developing in people with mild symptoms: Fish oil 1.2 grams/day.
  • For keeping veins open after coronary bypass surgery: 4 grams/day of fish oil containing EPA 2.04 grams and DHA 1.3 grams.
  • For preventing the collapse of arteries opened by "balloon" therapy (PTCA): 6 grams/day of fish oil starting one month before PTCA and continuing one month after PTCA, followed by 3 grams of fish oil daily thereafter for six months.
  • For reducing and preventing the long-term continuous rise in blood pressure and to preserve kidney function after heart transplantation: 4 grams/day of fish oil (46.5% EPA and 37.8% DHA).
  • For preventing clotting after placement of a tube for dialysis: 6 grams/day of fish oil.
  • For preserving kidney function in patients with severe IgA nephropathy: 4-8 grams/day of fish oil has been used.
  • For combined high triglycerides and high cholesterol: Fish oil providing EPA 1800-2160 mg and DHA 1200-1440 mg combined with garlic powder 900-1200 mg/day has been used to lower total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, and the ratios of total cholesterol to HDL, and LDL to HDL.
  • For salicylate intolerance: Fish oil 10 grams daily.

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