Fish oil helps cope with stress, possibly headaches.

Fish oil supplements may protect the heart in stressful situations, according to a study conducted in Michigan with 67 healthy volunteers. The researchers, led by Jason Carter, looked at the effect of fish oil on body’s stress response. The volunteers were given either nine grams of fish oil pills or nine grams of olive oil as a placebo, over a two-month period. The heart rate, blood pressure and other parameters were measured before and after the study.

After two months, both groups took a math test, which involved adding and subtracting numbers in their head. Their stress response was measured. Those who took fish oil supplements had a milder response to mental stress, including heart rate and sympathetic nervous system activity, which is part of the “fight or flight” response, compared to those who took olive oil instead.

The author concluded that “these results show that fish oil could have a protective effect on cardiovascular function during mental stress, a finding that adds a piece to the puzzle on why taking fish oil helps the heart stay healthy,”

This study supports the evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids have positive health benefits on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The author concluded that “In today’s fast-paced society, stress is as certain as death and taxes,” he added. “Moreover, our eating habits have deteriorated. This study reinforces that fish oils may be beneficial for cardiovascular health, particularly when we are exposed to stressful conditions.”

He also suggested “If you don’t do it already, consider taking fish oil supplementation, or better yet, eat natural foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.” Such foods include Alaska salmon, rainbow trout and sardines.

As far as the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on headaches, there is only one small but blinded study of 15 patients that suggests that they might help prevent migraines. Considering that in addition to counteracting the effect of stress, a major migraine trigger, omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation (which is one of the underlying processes during a migraine attack), it is very likely that omega-3 fatty acids may help some migraine sufferers.

Most people do not eat enough fish, so it makes sense to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to make sure that the brand you take does not contain mercury and other impurities. One of the brands I came across recently, Omax3 was developed by physicians from Yale university. It is pure and concentrated, meaning that you need to take only 2 capsules a day to get 1,500 mg of omega-3s. Most people who do take a supplement often don’t take enough of it. The study mentioned above used 9 grams of fish oil daily, while the headache study used 15 capsules with each containing 300 mg of omega-3s. To get the same amount from Omax3 you’d have to take 6 instead of 15 capsules.

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