Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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Fish oil supplements have been recommended by health bodies across the globe for their ability to reduce the risk of cardiac events. The oil can be sourced from food and supplement, but studies have raised questions about the safety of taking the additive alongside blood thinners. By preventing blood clotting, mixing the fish liver oil with garlic or ginkgo could lead to uncontrolled bleeding, generic lodine health bodies have warned.
Fish oil is a natural anticoagulant, which means it prevents the blood from clotting inside the veins.
While this attribute can help keep the heart in good nick, concerns have been raised over the risk it poses for excess bleeding.
Doctor Tod Cooperman, president of consumerlab.com, told the health platform The Healthy: “Omega-3 fish oil supplements may tame inflammation and improve your mood.
“But when you take these supplements with herbs that thin the blood – such as Ginkgo Biloba or garlic – they may prevent clotting and can lead to uncontrolled bleeding.”
READ MORE: Supplements warning: Four vitamins and minerals that may carry a higher risk of cancer
Ginkgo Biloba is a plant native to China, which is taken as a supplement for its effects on brain function and blood circulation.
Its high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids – compounds known for their strong antioxidant effects – are known to combat and neutralise the damaging effects of free radicals.
In the past, however, reports of spontaneous bleeding have been associated with the supplement.
This led health practitioners to suggest patients with known bleeding risks be counselled about possible dangers before taking the supplement.
Other blood-thinning supplements include turmeric, chamomile, fenugreek, evening primrose oil and ginseng, according to WebMD.
MedlinePlus is one of many health bodies to flag the safety concerns of combining fish oil with such blood thinners.
The platform explains: “Cod liver oil might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding.
“Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might increase the risk of bleeding in some people.
“Examples of supplements with this effect include garlic, ginger, ginkgo, nattokinase, and Panax ginseng.”
Although some supplements are best avoided when taking fish oil, others may synergise with the additive to offer stronger health benefits.
Previous studies have shown that combining fish oil supplements with B12, for instance, can lower homocysteine levels.
The health platform LifeSpa explains: “Elevated plasma homocysteine levels are associated with degenerative health concerns related to cardiovascular, cognitive and bone issues, as well as complications with pregnancy.”
In a study of 30 men, researchers found that supplementing with fish oils and B12 has a powerful synergistic benefit on homocysteine levels.
For the experiment, participants were divided into three groups; one received 1000 msg of B12, while another group received 2000mg of fish oil and a third received both treatments together.
The results showed that homocysteine levels were lowered by 22 percent in the B12 group, 19 percent in the fish oil group.
The group combining both treatments, however, saw a 39 percent reduction in homocysteine levels.
Researchers stress the importance of consulting a health practitioner before combining different supplements and drugs.
People using other blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen are discouraged to take fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
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