Triglycerides are fats in your blood. Just like cholesterol.
A little bit of triglycerides is normal. But if it gets too high, it’s a red flag for heart disease.
Fish oil reduces triglycerides.
Specifically, it’s the Omega-3 that does the trick.
The science behind this is so solid that pharmaceutical companies are now selling prescription fish oil as a drug.
Fish Oil Triglycerides Reduction (%)
Source: European J Clinical Invest. 2002; 32: 429-436.
Fish Oil Triglycerides: Pharmaceutical Drug Approach
You may have heard of the new drug, Lovaza. It’s highly purified fish oil. And it reduces your triglycerides by a third.
You need to take four Lovaza pills a day to see a 40% drop in triglycerides. But if you go down to your local drug store or grocery store and pop four retail-grade fish oil pills, you’re likely to see little or no difference in your triglyceride levels.
Well, because retail-grade fish oil pills have very little Omega-3. They are not purified enough. They usually have 30% or less Omega-3 in them. That’s just not enough to make a difference.
You’d have to take a dozen retail-grade fish oil pills to equal four Lovaza pills.
So should you buy Lovaza? Yes, if your insurance covers it. It will cost you roughly $28 per month if your insurance covers it. If not, it will cost you at least $180 per month. Fortunately, 83% of managed care ‘formularies’ cover it. So you may be in luck.
The makers of Lovaza sold over $1 Billion worth of fish oil pills last year.
But what if your insurance does not cover Lovaza? Or what if you’re tired of Lovaza side effects – fishy burps?
Fish Oil Triglycerides: Supplement Approach
You can still safely and reliably use fish oil supplements to lower triglycerides.
Key points to remember before you buy fish oil:
- Buy only pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Pharma grade is generally defined as 75% or higher Omega-3 content.
- Make sure the product has at least 85% Omega-3. Lovaza has a minimum of 85% Omega-3. Very few supplements match this concentration.
- Make sure the product is IFOS certified. International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) is a 3rd party testing agency that has tighter standards for fish oil than any other health and safety agency. IFOS tests for safety, purity and freshness. To match the excellent quality of Lovaza, you really need to make sure that your fish oil is IFOS 5-star rated. Supplements are not as FDA-regulated as drugs and you need 3rd party quality testing.
Fish Oil Triglyceride: Consumer Tip
Only pharmaceutical grade fish oils supplements have enough Omega-3 to match the potency of Lovaza.
Actually, there are a few good supplement brands that provide more Omega-3 than Lovaza!
Supplement Alternatives for Lovaza
|Product||mg Omega-3||Pharma Grade|
|LOVAZA||840 mg||Drug||Drug Certified|
|PharmaOmega Cardio||850 mg||Yes||No|
|GNC Triple Strength||900 mg||No||No|
|RenewLife Super Critical||1025 mg||Yes||Yes|
The best supplement alternatives for Lovaza are RenewLife and OmegaVia. Minami CardiO-3 and PharmaOmega Cardio are excellent products as well.
There are other really high quality brands like Nordic Naturals and Omax3 that could also work. But their formulas contain less Omega-3 than Lovaza, which means you may have to take 5 of their pills instead of four Lovaza pills. I have personally tried all the brands mentioned here. I recommend all but the GNC item. GNC Triple Strength uses 60% pure fish oil. I consider that too weak. The others all use 85% or higher purity oils.
|Fish Oil Triglycerides – Mechanism of action: |
Triglyceride production could be reduced by Omega-3s in a few ways:
The final result is always reduced VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) and Triglyceride secretion.
Harris WS, Bulchandani D.
Why do omega-3 fatty acids lower serum triglycerides? Current Opin. Lipidology. 2006; 17:387-393.
Fish Oil Triglycerides: Dosage
In science-speak, triglyceride reduction is ‘dose-dependent.’ This means that the more Omega-3 you take, the lower your triglycerides will be.
To really reduce your triglycerides, you need between 3000 and 4000 mg of Omega-3 per day. You can get that from four pills of Lovaza, RenewLife or OmegaVia.
Don’t take more than 3000 mg Omega-3 per day without your doctor’s approval and supervision. Fish oil is unlikely to cause side effects at that level, but always remember to start with one pill a day and work up to 3 or 4 pills a day.
Also, if you are already taking Lovaza, don’t switch to supplements without talking to your doctor.