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How Does Omega-3 Work?

In addition to their basic role as essential nutritional components necessary for normal growth and development, omega-3 fatty acids have many different effects in the body, including:
  • Inflammation -- This product seems to decrease inflammation in the body by suppressing a specific enzyme (COX-2) and inflammatory chemicals such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
  • Triglycerides -- DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids may lower triglyceride levels by several different mechanisms.
  • Blood clotting and blood pressure -- Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the production of a chemical called thromboxane A2. This chemical causes blood platelets to stick together, which encourages blood clots and increases blood pressure. Because of the effect on thromboxane A2, these supplements can "thin" the blood, perhaps preventing blood clots, and lower blood pressure.
These are just a few of the ways that researchers think omega-3 fatty acids may work for a variety of conditions. As more studies are done, more information will become available.

Is It Effective?

Omega-3 fatty acids -- usually in the form of fish oil -- have been studied quite a bit and seem to provide numerous health benefits. People take these supplements for a variety of uses, and some of these uses have more scientific evidence in their favor than others.
(Click Does Omega-3 Work? for more information.)

Dosing Information

Because omega-3 fatty acids have been studied quite a bit, good information about their dosing is available. Although it is probably best to obtain this macronutrient through your diet, this is difficult for many people.
(Click Omega-3 Dose for more information.)
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