Fish makes up an important part of a heart-healthy diet, thanks in part to its beneficial oil content. If you're having a difficult time fitting enough fish into your diet, taking a fish oil supplement such as salmon oil, can help you reap some of the benefits of fish. Salmon oil serves as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, because each tablespoon contains 1.8 grams of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid and 2.5 grams of DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid -- and these fats are responsible for many of its health benefits.
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The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon oil benefit your cardiovascular health. They help combat inflammation by suppressing the activity of a pro-inflammatory gene, called NFkB. This promotes cardiovascular health, because inflammation increases the risk of heart disease. Consuming DHA and EPA also lower your blood triglyceride levels, fighting high triglycerides that contribute to cardiovascular disease, and also promote healthy blood vessel function and lower blood pressure. Overall, this means consuming more of the omega-3s found in salmon oil lowers your risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease.
Other Benefits From Omega-3s
Because of their role in inflammation, omega-3s help control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. The DHA in salmon oil also makes up part of your brain cell membranes, and maintaining healthy DHA levels might affect brain cell communication. Taking salmon oil in combination with anti-depressants might also help treat depression, although the UMMC explains that it's not yet clear how well it works.
No Risk of Vitamin A Toxicity
Salmon oil offers a safe alternative to some other fish oils, such as cod liver oil, because it doesn't contain vitamin A. Cod liver oil is very high in vitamin A, and each tablespoon contains more than the maximum safe daily vitamin A intake. As a result, relying on cod liver oil as a daily source of omega-3 fatty acids can cause accidental vitamin A toxicity -- a condition that negatively affects your skin, causes joint pain and can even put you into a coma. Because salmon oil does not contain vitamin A, you can take it daily without risking a vitamin A overdose.
Risks and Considerations
While salmon oil offers a safe alternative to other fish oils, it still has the potential for side effects. Consuming too many omega-3 fatty acids can thin your blood and increase your risk for excessive bleeding, especially if you also take blood thinning medications. The omega-3s in salmon oil can also affect your blood sugar levels and interact with diabetes medications designed to reduce blood sugar. Salmon oil might also contain environmental toxins, such as was discussed in a study published in the "Journal of Automated Methods and Management in Chemistry" in 2005. Researchers studied the mercury levels of several dietary supplements and found that salmon oil had the highest mercury content. Talk to your physician about whether you need to take salmon oil, and ask your doctor to recommend a safe supplement and an appropriate dosage.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish Oil, Salmon
- Linus Pauling Institute: Essential Fatty Acids
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish Oil, Cod Liver
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Journal of Automated Methods and Management in Chemistry: Determination of Mercury in an Assortment of Dietary Supplements Using an Inexpensive Combustion Atomic Absorption Spectrometry Technique