The Nation's Health + [Omega-3 fatty acids]

Omega-3 fatty acids: "I hate fish oil!"

I get this comment occasionally, usually from the fishy belching that can occur, rarely because of other crazy effects like rash, fishy body odor, etc.

In the vast majority, fish oil is a benign but wonderfully effective agent. Track Your Plaque followers know that fish oil, starting at 4000 mg per day of a standard 1000 mg capsule preparation, dramatically reduces triglycerides and thereby raises HDL , partially suppresses small LDL , and is the best agent available for reducing postprandial (after eating) abnormalities like IDL and certain VLDL fractions.

However, an occasional person (about 1 in 20) just doesn't like the effects. Are there alternatives? Fish oil packs such a wallop of beneficial effects that can not be replaced by any other single agent or lifestyle practice. For this reason, we have a number of easy strategies to enhance your tolerance for fish oil. (Of course, if your and/or you doctor determine that you're allergic to fish oil, then you should indeed avoid it; thankfully, this is rare.)

Helpful strategies include:

--Refrigerate fish oil capsules--this cuts back on fish belching.
--Take only with meals. This also may increase fish oil's benefits on suppressing after-eating lipoprotein abnormalities.
--Take an enteric-coated preparation--this delays breakdown of the tablet/capsule, making fishy belching less of an issue. Sam's Club has an inexpensive preparation.
--Take liquid fish oil. Usually orange or lemon flavored, liquid fish oil may be a faint fishy taste and odor, but usually not as prominent as the capsules. There's also less stomach upset.
--Coromega--a paste form of fish oil available at health food stores or through Coromega tastes fruity and comes in little squeeze envelopes.
--Frutol--Pharmax, a British company, makes another fruity fish oil that is non-oily and tastes like apricot. It's actually fairly reasonably priced, too. However, it is hard to find. The only way I know to get is to go online at You may have to actually order through a health care provider.

When using any preparation of fish oil, the best way to determine your dose is to add up the EPA and DHA content. For instance, if you use a fish oil liquid that contains 320 mg EPA and 240 mg DHA per teaspoon, you will need two teaspoons a day to achieve the equivalent of our starting dose of 1200 mg of EPA+DHA, usually provided by 4000 mg total in 4 capsules. Note that some lipid and lipoprotein disorders will require higher doses, e.g., 1800 mg EPA+DHA for high triglycerides (>200 mg/dl) or high IDL.