When It Comes to Lowering Blood Pressure, Choose Fish Over Fish Oil Supplements

Vascular smooth muscle cells

Vascular smooth muscle cells (Photo credit: TheJCB)

It is well known that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have a number of health benefits. However, the way in which docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) , one of the omega-3s known for controlling blood pressure, works has not been clearly understood. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have been able to shed light on that mystery.

In the smooth cells that line blood vessels, there are channels that cover the outer membrane of the cells that let ions like sodium, calcium, and potassium in and out. This regulation of which ions come and go is of major importance in maintaining the correct pressure level inside the blood vessels.

Using two groups of wild mice, one group with the ion channels and one group that had been genetically engineered not to have them, the researchers found that DHA activates these channels by increasing currents by up to 20 fold. They also found that a dietary supplement contained in most fish oil pills known as DHA ethyl ester doesn’t activate the ion channels. In fact, because the DHA ethyl ester competes with DHA for binding sites on the ion channel, the DHA ethyl ester actually fights the positive effect of DHA.

The findings are important in terms of patients who receive omega-3 supplementation. Physicians need to be aware of whether the supplements contain natural DHA or DHA ethyl ester.

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~ by chasm63 on March 6, 2013.

2 Responses to “When It Comes to Lowering Blood Pressure, Choose Fish Over Fish Oil Supplements”

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