According to the National Institute of Health, alternative therapies have become very popular. About 40 percent of adults and 12 percent of children use them. One popular dietary supplement is fish oil. Americans spend more than one billion dollars on over-the-counter fish oil. It is rich in Omega-3-fatty acids. Is it good for you? – Dr. Raghavendra Rao explains.

Heart Health: Individuals who cannot eat fish for various reasons, take fish oil for its beneficial effects on the heart and blood vessels, and improvement is noticed within weeks of regular consumption. Fish oil increases the so called good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases the triglycerides, both outcomes are protective against heart attacks. Also, it helps to slightly lower the blood pressure in hypertensive persons. Fish oil prevents sudden death due to certain cardiac rhythm abnormalities, but it is not helpful in controlling atrial fibrillation.

Neuro Health: Consuming fish oil during pregnancy helps in the proper neurologic development of the fetus. Fish oil is useful in treating depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders as an adjuvant to main therapy in adults. There are good scientific studies proving its efficacy in treating mild to moderate Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Many parents do not like to give stimulants to their children and prefer fish oil or Omega-3-fatty acid fortified milk.

Inflammation Reduction: Inflammation is a complex biological response of body tissues to harmful biological or chemical stimuli. It is a protective response of the body involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. Long standing inflammation in blood vessels leads to plaque formation and to clots which in turn precipitates a heart attack or a stroke. Chronic inflammation is noticed in diseases such as, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Regularly consuming fish oil reduces inflammation and alleviates the signs and symptoms of the diseases. It should be used as an adjuvant therapy after consulting your doctor.

Side Effects: In some people, fish oil causes nausea, belching and a fishy after taste. The usual safe dose of fish oil is one gram a day. At higher doses, between 3 grams a day and above, fish oil may cause bleeding. According to a New England Journal of Medicine article in May of 2013, if you already have risk factors for heart disease, Omega-3-fatty acids in fish oil will not help to reduce heart attacks, strokes or deaths from heart disease. If you are taking anticoagulants, consult your doctor before trying fish oil.

I feel it is better to eat fish two or three times a week and nuts daily because you will get other beneficial nutrients from both.