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Omega-3 fatty acids help to manage triglyceride levels

2 min read

High triglyceride levels increase your risk for cardiovascular disease

When considering risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, cholesterol levels tops the list however another very important measurement are your triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Specifically, every 88 milligrams/decilitre decrease in triglyceride levels decreases cardiovascular disease risk by 14% in men and 37% in women. Normal triglyceride levels are considered below 150 mg/dL, borderline high levels equate to 150-200 mg/dL, high levels equate to 200–499 mg/dL and very high are above 500 mg/dL.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helps manage high triglyceride levels

A new research review focuses in on the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in helping manage high triglyceride levels. In the study, the researchers suggest 1 gram per day of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA + DHA) as the recommendation for patients with documented coronary heart disease but the optimal dosage appears to be 4 grams per day for those with high triglyceride levels. For people with very high triglyceride levels (816 mg/dL before the study started), 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day decreased levels by 45% and increased HDL cholesterol levels by 9%. For subjects with high/very high levels (ranging from 500-2000 mg/dL), 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day decreased TG levels by 45% and very low LDL cholesterol by 32%, while increasing HDL cholesterol levels by 13%. 

Also an effective complementary treatment for people taking statin drugs

The research also found omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to be an effective complementary treatment for people taking statin drugs. Specifically, 4 grams per day combined with 40 mg per day of simvastatin for 8 weeks significantly reduced triglyceride levels by 29.5% and VLDL-C by 27.5%, compared with taking simvastatin alone. In another study of another statin drug called atorvastatin, 4 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids with 10 mg per day of atorvastatin reduced triglycerides by 45.4%, compared with a 26.9% reduction with atorvastatin alone. 

Omega-3 fatty acids directly prevent triglycerides from being formed

Analysis of the possible mechanisms of how omega-3 fatty acids can optimise triglyceride levels identified the following:

  • the primary mechanism is omega-3 fatty acids directly preventing triglycerides from being formed 
  • omega-3 fatty acids act on the liver, decreasing the rate at which LDL cholesterol is formed

  • omega-3 fatty acids increase fat-burning, which makes less fatty acids available to become triglycerides.

Researchers concluded “Management of high triglyceride levels represents a crucial step to reduce cardiovascular risk, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation represents a valid approach to correct triglyceride levels, which are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.