http://uk.health.lifestyle.yahoo.net/fish-oils.htm Dr Chris Steele : Mon 31 Jul, 2006 12:00 am BST The Magic Of Fish Oils! Many of us will have memories of our childhood days when we were encouraged to take our daily spoonful of cod liver oil. It tasted foul, but the attitude then was ... "If it tastes awful, it must be good for you"! Our parents and grandparents knew that cod liver oil and halibut liver oil were good for us, as these fish oils were excellent sources of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. What that generation did not realise, was that ther regular use of fish oils may bestow some other very important medical benefits upon our bodies. For example, did you know that Eskimos rarely suffer from heart attacks, and the Japanese who are a nation of heavy smokers, are rarely afflicted by heart disease! What these two countries have in common is a diet rich in fish! Now there is also medical evidence to show that fish oils may improve other conditions, such as: Raised blood fats such as cholesterol and triglyceride High blood pressure Angina Rheumatoid arthritis Osteoarthritis Psoriasis Eczema Asthma Now don't get carried away, and dash off to your local pharmacy, thinking that cod liver oil, is the 'cure all' for every single one of these conditions. The evidence from much of the research is controversial. So let's have a sensible look at what these fish oils can do for you! What's The Magic Ingredient? Fish oils contain substances known as essential fatty acids .The two important ones are known as EPA and DHA. If you want to impress your friends, EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic (ay kosa pent ay no ik) acid and DHA stands for docosahexaenoic (doe kosa hex ay no ik) acid!! These fatty acids are only found in sea fish and cannot be produced within the body. Once in the body, they have widespread effects, especially upon blood fat levels, the joints and upon the skin. Effects Upon The Heart Cholesterol and triglyceride are two fatty substances in our blood which, when raised, cause a furring up of the inside of our blood vessels. This narrows the blood vessels and makes us more prone to clot formation (thrombosis). If a clot blocks off an artery to the heart, a heart attack is the result. Fish oils have been found to drop the levels of these blood fats, and also decrease the likelihood of clot formation in blood vessels. They also have an 'opening up' effect upon blood vessels, which improves the circulation to the heart and also helps to lower our blood pressure. Effects On The Skin When patients with psoriasis were given fish oils, their skin became less itchy, less reddened and less scaly. A similar improvement has been noticed by some, though not all sufferers of eczema. These conditions can be very distressing, and so any improvement brought about by simply adding fish to the diet is indeed worth trying. Effects Upon The Joints Research in the USA has shown that taking the fatty acids EPA and DHA present in fish oils, led to fewer joint pains and stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The treatment had to be taken for three months to produce it's best effect. Sources Of Fish Oils You can obtain fish oils naturally from your diet by eating any of the oily fish, such as herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon. It is advised that you should take this type of fish at least three times a week to obtain the beneficial effects. Otherwise, you can take liquid fish oils in the form of cod liver oil or halibut liver oil. The recommended dose is two 5ml teaspoons per day. Many people find the taste of these oils unpleasant, though you can buy orange or cherry flavoured cod liver oil!! If you prefer to take your cod liver oil in capsule form you will have to take two capsules three times a day with each meal. A concentrated blend of fish oils is also available, called 'Pulse' capsules which are taken at the dose of one capsule twice a day. The oils and capsules can all be bought from your local pharmacist. For those patients who actually do have a raised fat level (specifically raised triglyceride) in their bloodstream, a capsule is available on prescription called 'Maxepa', but you have to take 5 capsules twice a day! Well, I don't want to die from a heart attack and I don't want arthritis, so I'll be taking my fish oil capsules every day because herring and mackerel give me indigestion! A thought has just occurred to me ...... do herring, mackerel and sardines get heart disease, arthritis or psoriasis? They shouldn't, should they? The Best of health, to all of you! Dr. Chris Steele.