Uses of Omega-3-Acid Ethyl Esters (Lovaza)
There are many vitamins and minerals that the body needs to get a regular dose of in order to stay in good shape and health, and one of the most important are the Omega-3-acid ethyl esters or more commonly known as Omega-3. You might have come across the name in a nutritional guide sometime before but in this article, we cover all the information you need to know about this important nutritional constituent found in the Lovaza generic name.
What is Omega-3?
To properly understand how important Omega-3 ethyl esters are to our body, we must first understand what they are. Let’s start with Omega-3 acids: these are fatty acids that are essential to our bodies and when we say essential, that means that our bodies cannot synthesize them and therefore they must be supplemented from outside through food intake or capsules.
These fatty acids enter our bodies and they make an important constituent of our cell membranes’ general structure. Inside the cell membrane, they have various functions that keep the cell in good shape: they control what goes in and out of the cell and they help keep it stable. The higher the cell content of Omega-3 fatty acids, the more fluid the cell functions.
Omega-3 fatty acids come in 3 forms: Eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA], Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] and Alpha-linolenic acid [ALA]. The first two are commonly found in seafood while the third is notably high in flax seed oil, nuts and some animal fat.
However, we’re talking about Omega-3-fatty acids, while Lovaza contains omega-3-ethyl esters. Are they one and the same? To put it shortly, it is safe to say Yes. The ethyl esters of Omega-3 are simply the fatty acids attached to an ethyl part, which increases absorption. Thus, most omega-3 supplements come in the form of ethyl esters with Lovaza being the leading generic.
What is Omega-3 used for?
So now that we’ve understood the importance of Omega-3 to the cell membrane, how is this truly important to our bodies? You might have taken the Lovaza capsules before, or perhaps you wonder what is Lovaza used to treat exactly. Omega-3 is associated to have essential health benefits to our hearts, joints, eyes and brains. These are the organs where the cell membrane is highly functional and important, so this all makes sense.
Omega-3 acids can decrease the risk of heart disease significantly, especially coronary heart disease [CHD]. This is logical, as Omega-3 acids increase the formation of useful lipids in our bodies called HDL and decrease the formation of harmful lipids called LDL. If these harmful lipids increase in blood concentration, they often lead to formation of lipid plaque deposits on the wall of heart artery, narrowing it and leading to less blood reaching the heart. This translates as less heart functionality and increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Thus, it is only natural that people who consumed Omega-3 acids regularly in their diet would be less prone to heart diseases. Moreover, Omega-3 acids don’t only protect the heart through decreasing blood lipids, but also have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure, so many doctors supplement their hypertension patients with Lovaza or similar generics.
In addition, Omega-3 acids are found in high concentrations in the brain and eye cell membranes as well as the joints. They are important for the healthy functionality of these organs so their benefits aren’t only for the heart health. Seeing all these positive effects on vital body organs, it is no wonder than the World Health Organization [WHO] would recommend each person to have fish (the main natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids) once or twice per week.
How Does Omega-3 work?
The exact mechanism of how Omega-3 fatty acids work inside the body is not completely understood, although there are a few theories. For example, on how they have such an effective role in heart health protection, it is mainly attributed to their ability to decrease blood triglycerides. How do they do that? It could be through increased breakdown of fatty acids or through the inhibition of an enzyme called diglyceride acyltransferase, one responsible for triglycerides synthesis in the liver. The net effect is that the harmful lipids are decreased in blood, decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to high lipid concentrations in blood.
As for other organs, we’ve already discussed how Omega-3 acids are vitally important to the cell membranes but in addition, Omega-3 acids are known to regulate certain chemical substances in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are inflammatory mediators that are mainly released in the body during an inflammatory reaction. This regulation plays a main role in many of their health benefits.
Omega-3 Side Effects.
Compared to the great health benefits Lovaza offers, its side-effects which may or may not happen are quite manageable. The side-effects include a fishy aftertaste, nausea, bloating and gastric discomfort. Keep in mind that you don’t have to necessarily experience these side-effects although if you do, it can make ingesting the capsules a little irritating. Fortunately, these side-effects can be easily managed or avoided altogether by simply ingesting the capsules with food and not on an empty stomach. This decreases all the gastric discomfort you might feel and lets you avoid the aftertaste the capsules leave on your tongue.
The correct way to take Lovaza.
Lovaza and other Omega-3 supplements are usually recommended by your doctor although if you think that you don’t have enough Omega-3 acids in your diet, you can take the supplement on your own. Lovaza provides 840 mg of EPA and DHA, and of those 465 mg is EPA and 375 mg is DHA. This is a very high concentration of fish oil omega, and it is the FDA-approved dosage to achieve therapeutic effects and fully achieve the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. The recommended dose is 4 grams daily, which can be taken all at once or divided into a couple of capsules in the morning and another couple in the evening. Read the patient information leaflet before you start taking this medication and ask your doctor if you have any questions. If you are worried about the gastric side-effects, it would be wiser to divide the dose into two times daily.
Lovaza is a very important and essential Omega-3 supplement. If you fall into one of the categories that such a supplement could be useful to, and you don’t have enough intake of fish, seafood or nuts, remember that your body cannot synthesize it on its own, and consider taking your dose as soon as possible.