Omega 3: frequently asked questions

1) At what age can we start taking OMEGOR Omega-3 supplements?

In general, there are no age limits for starting or stopping omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplementation.

In any case, the capsules and thus the recommended doses are designed for healthy men of about 70 kg but can be adjusted individually according to weight, specific functional needs, and any disease states peculiar to the subject.


2) How can the effects produced by OMEGOR Omega-3s be measured?

The main purpose of OMEGOR Omega-3 supplementation is to prevent a dietary deficit of essential fatty acids by going about restoring physiological levels of these essential substances in our cells.

Our body is very greedy for these vital fatty acids. To evaluate the effects produced by OMEGOR Omega-3, in addition to interpreting the beneficial signals sent by our body, one can measure the improvement of so-called "cardiac coherence" or even monitor the presence of these fatty acids in the blood.

First, one could do a normal fasting plasma lipid test, to be repeated after two to three months of treatment, and calculate the ratio of triglycerides to "good" (HDL) cholesterol, i.e., (TG/HDL): simply take the value of triglycerides and divide it by that of HDL cholesterol. In some studies, it has been observed that a ratio of triglycerides to HDL of less than 2 indicates a lower relative risk of heart disease.

It would be useful to assess the evolution of this value before and after the supplementation period by consulting with your primary care physician.

There is, in addition, a new blood test that measures the ratio of arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (AA/EPA). It is advisable to perform this test two to three months after the start of treatment.

Studies on the Japanese population, which has the highest average life span among industrialized countries, have shown that a value of this ratio between approximately 1 and 3 correlates with excellent functional balance and health status.

It has recently been highlighted by the work of Harris WS and von Schacky C that measuring the amount of EPA+DHA , as the percentage of total fatty acids present in red blood cell membranes in the blood ("Omega-3 Index") can give important premonitory information of clinical relevance regarding the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.


3) Can OMEGOR Vitality be combined with statin treatment?

 Statins decrease cholesterol levels, but are not useful in protecting against potentially fatal ventricular arrhythmias (responsible for 70% of cardiac-related deaths) and the risk of sudden cardiac death.

However, cholesterol is not the only cardiovascular risk factor, so the joint intake of statins and Omega 3 could have complementary effects. 


4) Is it possible to take aspirin if you are using OMEGOR Vitality?

Aspirin, like all NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), blocks the formation of active metabolites from the precursors: dihomogammalinolenic acid (DGLA C20:3 n-6), arachidonic acid (AA C20:4 n-6) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA C20:5 n-3).

This prevents the formation of these oxygenated compounds derived from Omega-3 and Omega-6, the so-called eicosanoids. Those derived from arachidonic acid metabolism generally have pro-inflammatory, prothrombotic, and vasoconstrictor effects, while those derived from DGLA and EPA exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and locally vasodilatory activities.

Thus, aspirin reduces the pro-inflammatory effect of some eicosanoids derived from AA, but at the same time also reduces the anti-inflammatory effect of the other beneficial eicosanoids derived from DGLA and EPA. On the basis of these observations, it can be said that in patients taking Omega-3 supplements, a treatment with aspirin may cause them to lose some of the beneficial effects arising from the eicosanoids formed from EPA.

On the other hand, joint intake of small doses of aspirin (e.g., aspirinetta with 80mg/day) with Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial, as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) stimulates the formation of certain derivatives of EPA (the E-series resolvins) and DHA (the D-series resolvins and neuroprotectins).

These molecules exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects locally (more than 1,000 times more effective than corticosteroid drugs), particularly with regard to vascular endothelium (the resolvins), retinal tissue, and neuronal tissue (the neuroprotectins).

Considering the blood-thinning action exerted by omega-3 fatty acids, it is imperative to consult with your treating physician whenever you intend to start a therapy of substantial doses of aspirin in conjunction with taking high doses of omega-3 fatty acids.


5) Can Omega-3s be helpful for multiple sclerosis?

Results of studies that specifically measured the effect of Omega-3s on multiple sclerosis have shown that Omega-3s improve the symptoms of patients with the condition.

This is generally true for all auto-immune diseases, contributing to a better balance of the immune system.

While there are no particular undesirable effects to be feared in the use of Omega-3 for multiple sclerosis, it should be emphasized that the results could be moderate but still potentially significant, such as the reduction of necessary doses of anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs after a few months of treatment; all clearly under the supervision of the treating physician.


6) Does Omega-3 play a preventive role?

First, it is important to differentiate the concept of primary prevention from that of secondary prevention. The latter refers to those patients who have already had an initial cardiovascular "alert."

Most of the clinical trials conducted employing Omega-3 fatty acids have looked at precisely this type of patient. In this regard, Omega-3s have been widely shown to reduce the risk of even sudden cardiovascular mortality (GISSI Prevention).

Further studies, conducted in healthy patients without previous episodes of cardiac phenomena (primary prevention studies), have shown a beneficial influence of Omega-3s regarding normal cardiovascular function.


7) Each capsule of OMEGOR Vitality already contains vitamin E. Is there a risk of overdose if vitamin E dietary supplements are taken separately?

The dose of vitamin E already contained in OMEGOR Vitality capsules is intended to protect the integrity of the product during the storage period. This amount in itself is very low (on the order of about 2-3 mg per 1000 mg of oil), so the risk of vitamin E overdose should be excluded.

Conversely, it is advisable to combine the intake of OMEGOR Vitality with a vitamin E dietary supplement as both treatments act synergistically. 


8) How long is it necessary to take OMEGOR Vitality? Is it necessary to take it for a lifetime?

To date, there is insufficient scientific data to precisely fix a period of Omega-3 treatment. It has been observed that the process of Omega-3 fatty acid renewal of neuronal membranes (mainly DHA) continues for at least three months from the beginning of intake, while thereafter the membranes appear to be stabilized.

It is therefore advisable to take a minimum of three months' treatment to see whether or not dietary supplementation with Omega-3 is producing a positive effect. In any case, OMEGOR Vitality is not a drug but a nutrient-based dietary supplement, so taking it is not aimed at curing but rather at correcting any potentially health-threatening nutritional deficiency.

Thus, there are no time limits regarding treatment with OMEGOR Vitality also because it is almost free of side effects.

However, as we get older, generally our dietary intake decreases and our needs increase; in such cases it may be desirable to increase doses. The fact remains that consistent and continuous consumption of OMEGOR Vitality over a long period of time ensures an optimal daily intake of Omega-3. The protective effect is almost immediate and generally lasts throughout the treatment period.


9) For a person who already has a diet rich in Omega-3 and feels physically and mentally fit, is it still necessary to take Omega-3 dietary supplements?

It is clear that to a person who feels so well the advice to give is to keep doing what he or she is doing. In any case, if the daily diet is already rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids (fish, shellfish, flaxseed, flax or canola oil) there is no reason to take nutritional supplements.

Several studies show that a well-balanced diet of the "Mediterranean" type has an important preventive effect on the development of common Western diseases such as frequent cardiovascular diseases (coronary artery disease, high blood triglyceride levels, certain heart rhythm disorders).

Some epidemiological studies suggest that such a diet also has preventive effects against depressive phenomena.


10) Is taking OMEGOR omega-3 fattening?

The short answer is no. In fact, each 1-gram capsule of OMEGOR Vitality has just over 10 calories. Three 1-gram capsules of OMEGOR Vitality therefore contain about 32 calories and that is the equivalent of half an apple. Several studies on rats suggest that Omega-3s actually reduce the formation and size of fat cells (adipocytes). Moreover, Omega-3s are mainly used as constituents of cell membranes, not for energy purposes. For these reasons, taking OMEGOR Vitality is not fattening; in fact, the opposite is true.  


11) What may be the side effects of Omega-3?

The most common side effect of Omega-3 supplements is the possible fishy aftertaste; however, this can easily be eliminated by using small precautions such as taking the capsules just before a meal and/or possibly splitting the doses. As an example, if you take three capsules a day, it is advisable to take one immediately before each main meal.

In some people Omega-3s can accelerate intestinal transit. During the first week of treatment, it is rare but possible for stools to be soft and diarrheal episodes to occur; in this case, simply reduce doses for one or two weeks as appropriate and then try the initial dose again to test for increased tolerability.

In other, rarer cases, Omega-3s may facilitate the appearance of bruising since, like aspirin, they interfere with certain mechanisms of blood clotting (platelet aggregation).

This is generally considered to be one of their main beneficial effects that results in reducing the risk of heart attack or cerebrovascular complications.

It could, however, pose a problem for those people who are predisposed to bruising or who use anti-coagulant drugs of which Omega-3s could potentiate the effect. In such cases, it is advisable to consult your doctor before starting Omega-3 supplementation.


12) What are the effects of OMEGOR Omega-3 on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipid parameters?

At high dosages, EPA and DHA have a powerful and well-demonstrated triglyceride-lowering effect. Supplementation with EPA/DHA from 1 to 3 grams per day provides a quantifiable reduction in blood serum triglycerides. There is a dose-response relationship, that is, the greater the amount of EPA/DHA taken, the greater the triglyceride-reducing effect. In some studies, it has been observed that an amount of 1 gram of EPA+DHA taken regularly produces a decrease in triglycerides of about 20 percent in some subjects.

With a higher dose (>4 grams) a reduction in the order of 25-30% was achieved. EPA and DHA at the same time modify other lipid parameters (LDL, VLDL, HDL). In particular, intake of about 3 grams produces an increase in HDL values (the "good" cholesterol) and a reduction, but more modestly, in total "bad" cholesterol values (VLDL + LDL).


13) Can Omega-3s be taken during pregnancy?

A Danish study suggests that women with an Omega-3-rich diet during pregnancy deliver babies with "healthier" birth weights and are less often subject to premature births. Omega-3s are known to play an important role in the development of the nervous system of the fetus and infant, and women with an Omega-3-deficient diet during pregnancy face an increased risk of postpartum depression

Authoritative confirmation of the need to ensure adequate intakes of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during this delicate phase came recently (September 2005) from the European Consensus Conference on Recommendations for Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids for Pregnant and Lactating Women (PERILIP), whose aim was to improve guidelines on nutrition during the period of pregnancy and growth of the unborn child.

Experts in nutrition, placental development and function, obstetrics and neonatology, led by Dr. Berthold Koletzko and Dr. Irene Cetin, concluded their work by recommending a minimum daily intake of 200mg DHA for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

PERILIP highlighted the fact that intakes of up to 1g of DHA or 2.7 g of long-chain omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs) have been shown to be free of relevant side effects in various clinical trials. This recommendation may soon become part of the new official guidelines of the EU, which, among other things, funded the work of the aforementioned PERILIP conference.


14) Can OMEGOR Vitality be taken in case of hypotension or in conjunction with antihypertensive treatment?

The main effects that Omega-3 has on blood pressure have been observed at rather high dosages (more than 3 grams of Omega-3 (EPA+DHA) per day). Consequently, consumption of Omega-3 in the recommended doses would have little influence on blood pressure.

However, for individuals taking antihypertensives it would be advisable to take note of any changes in blood pressure when starting treatment with Omega-3.

In any case, you should consult your doctor if you plan to combine Omega-3 dietary supplementation with specifically antihypertensive treatment. The addition of Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation could have particularly beneficial effects.


15) Can OMEGOR Vitality be taken if one is already having homeopathic or St. John's Wort treatment?

There is no known contra-indication arising from combining OMEGOR Vitality with a homeopathic or St. John's Wort treatment-in fact, the two forms of treatment should act synergistically.


16) Can OMEGOR Vitality be given to children?

Few studies have been done specifically on infants. However, it is known that the brain of the fetus during the last three months of pregnancy and of the infant during the first three months of life are in great need of Omega-3 for the establishment of neuronal membranes.

Two separate studies suggest that an Omega-3 rich nutritional intake, during the last trimester of pregnancy, can be clearly related to a decrease in the frequency of premature births and to more babies having "healthier" birth weights.

Two English-sourced studies suggest on the one hand that children with a dietary Omega-3 deficiency have more dyslexic-type reading problems (Richardson et al., 2000) and on the other hand that Omega-3 dietary supplementation by dyslexic subjects improves concentration and decreases attention disorders (Richardson et al., 2001) without, however, completely curing them.


17) Can one become addicted to Omega-3s?

EPA and DHA supplements are not drugs or artificial molecules, but rather dietary supplements that renew the body's reserves in essential fatty acids in cases of dietary deficiency and/or increased need for these nutrients.

Abrupt discontinuation of treatment has no adverse effect except the risk of letting physiological reserves gradually decline again in the absence of a diet sufficiently rich in Omega-3.


18) Could excessive consumption of Omega-3s (i.e., a diet already rich in Omega-3s combined with appropriate dietary supplementation) be dangerous?

In such a situation there is no risk from overdose. Suffice it to say that Eskimos living in Northern Quebec in Canada consume up to 16 grams of fish oil per day, and to date no adverse effect caused by such a dose of Omega-3 has been observed.