Many people take fish oil for heart health. But a new study found that the supplement could offer an important added benefit during the pandemic.
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that COVID-19 patients with high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to die than those with lower levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the active ingredient in fish oil supplements.
The scientists analyzed blood samples of 100 people hospitalized with COVID, checking levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
The researchers discovered that there was only one death among the 25 patients with the highest level of omega-3s. Out of the 75 patients who had lower omega-3 levels, there were 13 deaths. That means their risk of death was four times higher.
The study tested for the two main omega-3s in fish oil supplements: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). You can also get them by eating oily, cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.
The Best Kind of Fish Oil
Dr. Arash Asher led the research. He believes that the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA may help COVID patients.
The study “strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may help reduce the risk for adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Dr. Asher’s research was published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids.
If you take fish oil, make sure you get the right kind. Most are made with a cheap manufacturing process that yields something called an ethyl ester (EE) oil. It’s less bioavailable. Labels of EE fish oil often say the product is derived from “marine oil concentrate.”
Instead, look for brands that contain the triglyceride form of fish oil. It should be noted on the label. A high-quality fish oil will also be relatively free of fishy tastes or smells. It should be translucent and not cloudy.
You’re more likely to find quality fish oil supplements at trusted online retailers or in health food stores than at drug-stores or supermarkets. Take up to 5,000 mg a day after checking with your doctor.
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