What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?:
Omega-3 fatty acids are common nutritional supplements often taken in the form of fish oil or flaxseed oil. They're classified as a polyunsaturated fat, one of the "good" fats (as opposed to "bad" fat, which is saturated.)
Omega-3s are believed to play many important roles, including:
- Aiding brain development and function
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing back and neuropathic pain
- Preventing heart disease
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering risk of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease
Omega-3s for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
Some studies show that omega-3s may improve symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. One survey showed that omega-3 fatty acids are among the most common supplements taken by people with fibromyalgia.
Some researchers hypothesize that omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate oxidative stress, which studies suggest may play a role in these conditions.
Many people take omega-3 supplements, or eat a diet rich in omega-3s, in order to combat inflammation. Chronic fatigue syndrome is believed to be associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines. Some research suggests that fibromyalgia may involve inflammation of the fascia.
Some health professionals recommend that people who don't eat a diet rich in omega-3s take 500 milligrams a day in supplements.
Doctors may recommend that people with certain conditions, such as heart disease, take more. It's important for you to discuss your supplement needs with your doctor.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet:
You can get dietary omega-3 fatty acids in several foods, including:
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, anchovies)
- Canola and hempseed oils
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Just because omega-3s are natural doesn't mean they're safe for everyone or in any amount. It's important for you to be aware of possible side effects.
Common side effects include:
- Upset stomach
- Increased burping
- Heartburn/acid reflux
- Abdominal pain and bloating
These problems are often lessened when supplements are taken with meals. It may also help to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it.
A "fishy" taste is also a problem for some people and may also be minimized by taking supplements with meals.
While rare at lower dosages, omega-3s may increase your risk of bleeding problems, including a type of stroke. Higher doses may also be linked to nosebleeds and blood in the urine. A blood sugar increase in diabetics is possible but unlikely.
Those with major depression or bipolar disorder may experience mania, restlessness, or a crawling sensation on the skin.
Some fish may contain contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and methylmercury. These substances are believed to build up in the meat, not the oil, so supplements are considered safe.
Long-term supplementation may cause vitamin E deficiency. Your doctor can test you for this problem.
More Supplements for Pain & Tenderness:
- Magnesium Malate
- Vitamin D
- Supplements that balance neurotransmitters (listed below) may help alleviate fibromyalgia pain
More Supplements for Brain Function:
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