Health Risks of Omega-3 fatty acids

We all are aware of the potential health benefits (cardiovascular health benefits, not cardiovascular health benefits such as prevention of certain cancers, anti-inflammatory, immune function etc.) of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA or docosahexaenoic acids), but very few of us are aware of the health risks involved with excess (more than recommended daily intake) consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Some health risks are associated with excess consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, mainly EPA and DHA. It is reported that intake of EPA and DHA more than 3 grams per day is associated with health risks. The health risks associated with excess intake of EPA and DHA can be cardiac health risks and non cardiac health risks. The potential of health risks associated with excess consumption of omega-3 fatty acids of DHA and EPA is endorsed by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements as well as United States Food and Drug Administration.

Cardiac health risks associated with omega-3 fatty acids:

The patients who are suffering from CHF (congestive heart failure) and recurrent angina should discuss with their doctor before taking dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, as these are responsible for cardiac health risks. In CHF heart is able to pump only the minimum blood that is required for survival of cardiac cells and in these patients excess omega-3 fatty acids may remove some of these pumping cells and the heart will not be able to pump enough blood for survival. This may lead to increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

Non cardiac health risks of omega-3 fatty acids:

The non cardiac health risks of omega-3 fatty acids include increased risk of bleeding tendency, hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in brain occurs due to rupture of minute aneurysms). Omega-3 fatty acids oxidation produces some active oxidation products which may be harmful. There is report that omega-3 fatty acids may cause control of blood glucose difficult. Patients with diabetes and hyperlipidemia, there may be increase level of LDL cholesterol, which is bad for health.

In general the health benefits far outweigh the health risks even if a person consumes more than recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, as seen among the Inuit tribe of Greenland. So, you can consume dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, without much health risks.

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