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Reeling in the Benefits of Fish Oil

You might have heard of it before. Perhaps you’re even currently taking it. It’s fish oil, a very popular supplement that more and more people are adding to their daily regimen.

For those who aren’t familiar with fish oil, it comes from the tissues of oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, herring and trout. It contains omega-3 fatty acids as well as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are known to help reduce inflammation in the body, along with various other health benefits.

Today, we are going to get a better look at some of the ways fish oil can offer particular benefit to the elderly.

Arthritis – There are many symptoms associated with arthritis, including morning stiffness, tenderness in the joints and pain. For those with arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, fish oil supplements may decrease the intensity of those symptoms. The benefits of fish oil may increase if used in conjunction with anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Blood Pressure – There have been many studies that show that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce high blood pressure, though the effects have generally been small. However, the potential benefits of fish oil could increase in those whose blood pressure is higher. The effects may also depend on the dosage of fish oil consumed.

Heart Disease – Clinical trials suggest that omega-3 fatty acids could potentially be of benefit in reducing heart disease mortality. The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil supplements might have the potential to lower triglycerides, inflammation and bad cholesterol, and to increase a person’s good cholesterol. A daily dose of fish oil has also been connected to a reduced risk of unexpected heart failure.

Memory Loss – In a previous blog post, we spoke about the warning signs of memory loss in your aging loved one. Although fish oil cannot reverse the effects of memory loss, it does have the potential to help prevent cell inflammation, which, in turn, works to help maintain cognitive ability. Furthermore, fish oil increases a person’s ability to maintain memory as they age and can even reduce the risk of mental disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Cancer – Taking a fish oil supplement may help in lowering the risk of all forms of cancer. For example, based on a study of 1,300 Swedish men, those who ate fish that were rich in omega-3s had a much lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who didn’t eat fish. Omega-3s have the ability to slow or stop the development of cancerous cells by impeding the growth or even killing the cancer cells.

All in all, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements are believed to provide a wide range of health benefits that includes, but is not limited to, decreasing the pain associated with arthritis, lowering the chances of sudden heart failure, and potentially impeding or even killing the growth of cancer cells.

Although these are just a handful of the potential benefits of fish oil to elderly adults, always be sure to check with your or your loved one’s physician prior to incorporating fish oil or any supplement into your daily routine, to ensure there is no adverse interaction with current medications.

Sources:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5366531_benefits-omega-fish-oils-elderly.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/evidence/hrb-20059372

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-to-know-about-omega-3s-and-fish?page=2

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The St. Barnabas Resource Center is your online source for health news, advice, and insights into elder care, retirement living, dementia care, rehabilitation, and more.

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St. Barnabas Health System
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