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High doses of Omega 3's good for kidneys?
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Has anyone else heard/been told that high doses of omega 3's could be beneficial to the kidneys for persons with pkd?

I'm interested in hearing others thoughts on this!
Posted on 12/20/09, 07:07 pm
12 Replies | Most Recent Add Your Reply
Reminder: This is a support group for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). We trust you will do your best to remain positive and helpful. For more information, see our rules of the road.

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Reply #1 - 12/21/09  7:28am
" oh how many times do we have to say it, "everything in moderation".
the healthiest diet is one that has all nutrients in balanced amounts.
omega 3 is good for the heart, I don't know the effect on kidneys but I'll guess it is good for them too, IN MODERATION!
omega 3 is an oily substance, it comes from oily fish, nuts, beans.
some large ocean fish, top of the foodchain, have bad stuff in them from ingesting smaller fish. nuts are high in fat, tho healthy in moderate amounts. the omega 3 in beans is not very high.
PKD kidneys do not wear out, they fail when cysts crowd out the filtering capacity. unless you slow or stop cyst growth, which I doubt omega 3 will do, I can't see any reason to megadose.
I'm sure Ruth and other people smarter than me can give a better answer, just keep in mind there is no magic bullet. Tolvaptan gives hope because it may stop or slow cyst growth. "
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Reply #2 - 12/21/09  9:34am
" While your intent is good, please talk with your doctor, especially your nephrologist before taking ANY supplements. PKD has an inflammatory component to it, so Omega-3s, if not adequately supplied in the diet can be beneficial. However, NOTHING should be taken in high doses and no supplements should be taken without talking with your doctor first. Our kidneys do not process vitamins and supplements the same way healthy kidneys do and fatty acids and many other supplements are not simply flushed out of the body, but rather stored and can build up to toxic levels.

Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe. It's essential to always talk with your doctor first BEFORE taking supplements. If you're concerned about getting enough Omega-3s, for now stick with wild caugh salmon 3 times a week (check the Monterey Bay Aquarium website for the safest seafood options for both you and the environment). You can also try a couple of small servings of unsalted, raw almonds each week (also high in Omega-3s).

This caution holds true for all supplements. Keep in mind that supplements are essentially medication sold over the counter (and more and more supplements are being recalled for actually containing prescription medications in them; the latest being all of the erective dysfunction "natural solutions"). So please, do not self-medicate. You can inadvertently cause more harm than good.

Best wishes,
Ruth "
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Reply #3 - 12/21/09  2:39pm
" thx for your input. i am not taking them... it's just something i heard and i knew coming here, i would get some honest opinions! thx y'all. ;) "
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Reply #4 - 02/10/11  9:25am
" Not only have I heard of it benefiting one of my colleagues who has PKD has seen a complete reversal. This particular doctors sister was diagnosed with PKD and ended up receiving a transplant. This doctor and siblings were tested and all had PKD. This doc is also a nutritionist and immediately started on omega 3s 15 gr/day and gained complete remission of his PKD and subsequently his siblings did as well. FYI 1gr of fish oil does not not equal 1 gr of omega 3's. EPA/DHA needs to be in a 2-1 ration, if you add the EPA and DHA together this number will give you your dosage ie: if these numbers add up to 500 mgs you would need six servings for a 3 gram dose. Most fish oil supplements have very low doses of EPA/ DHA and you have to take handfuls to get a resonable dose. The two brands that I have found that are high quality and have reasonable dosage are Integrative theraputics (eskimo 3 )and Physiologics these are avaliable in many health food stores or online through emerson ecologicals. Another option for children is the liguid fish oils (not cod liver oil) mixed in a smoothie. High quality fish oils are pleasant tasting with no taste of fish. Intergratives fish oil in my opinion has a mango flavor. If you are interested I will give you the contact info for the Doctor that I have mentioned. This is my mitzvah for today do with it as you please. Good luck and god bless from another parent of a child with chronic illness

Doc2 "
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Reply #5 - 02/10/11  10:19am
" I am taking the perscription drug Lovaza which is omega 3 acid ethylesters. 1 GM four capsules a day, have been doing it for almost a year. Sad to say, I don't have any reversal of my symptoms of PKD, but my cholesterol has really come down. I can't take any of the statins due to side effects, so this was the next best thing. My kidney doc says that I can't take anymore than this dosage as it will be lethal. Am I way off base here or whats going on? "
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Reply #6 - 02/10/11  10:53am
" I take 3g a day myself but I am taking three grams total EPA/DHA.
Lovaza state that the dose is 4 grams/ day but they do not tell you if that is 4 grams combine EPA/DHA of 4 grams of fish oil with a lesser dose of EPA/DHA. Regardless the best that your getting is 4 grams much lower than the 15 grams that the patient was taking who gained remission. Isnt it amazing that the drug companies are now making fish oil and niacin avaliable by perscription.

Doc2 "
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Reply #7 - 02/10/11  10:58am
" Are you a physician? My kidney doc was specific in telling me that I cannot take any higher of a dose that what I am taking. What is he talking about, do you know? I have no lesser symptoms of PKD now than when I started a year ago with the Omega 3's. Where is this documented, I personally would like to know, we all would like to know! "
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Reply #8 - 02/10/11  11:45am
" Norma Those are all good questions, I am not portraying myself as an expert on this subject but I am sharing with you what the Dr. Who has treated himself for PDK shared with me as well as his results. I also sent you his contact info in a email. As far as research, I do not believe that you will see any as it is not financially benifical for any one to perform any if this is effective it would be benifical only for the patient not the drug companies or anyone who treat this, this is unfortunately the reality of our system.

Doc2 "
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Reply #9 - 02/10/11  12:38pm
" Norma, et al,
You're in a very different situation than someone who just buys some Omega-3 supplement over the counter and starts taking it because they heard it was good for them.

You're on a prescription medication (Lovaza)designed for a particular purpose: to lower your triglyceride levels (only approved use and claim, although it also seems to lower overall cholesterol as well according to their studies). Your prescription medication is made up of only Omega-3s ethyl esters. This is NOT the same product that the rest of us can buy off the shelf at the supermarket or a health food store. Your prescription-only medication is extremely purified and only certain parts of the Omega-3 fatty acids are used.

But among the things that are in the prescribing information for Lovaza (a supposedly innocuous Omega-3 supplement) is the strong recommendation for periodic liver enzyme testing to ensure there are no liver problems? We're not going to find that on an Omega-3 supplement bottle!

In addition, Lovaza, that innocuous Omega3 supplement, should not be taken by anyone with a fish or shellfish allergy (seems obvious but it's probably not listed on the Omega-3 fish oil product; supplements are a buyer-beware industry).

Also, Lovaza (and all Omega-3s, but not marked on any bottles, buyer beware!) specifically states in the prescribing instructions and patient literature that it interferes with coagulation and prolongs bleeding times and to immediately notify your doctor if you are taking blood thinners, etc. This is a major issue if you are also taking a blood thinner or need surgery!

It's also a pregnancy category C medication(only if absolutely needed); in rats it can cause the embryos to die if taken in large amounts (equal to 7 grams, which easily what one person has been known to take, thinking that more is better)! But you wouldn't know there are any issues by reading the bottle or talking with the so-called "experts"; they think this is an utterly innocuous supplement with miraculous properties!

BTW, did you know that there have been NO studies in patients with renal impairment of any kind? I was somewhat surprised about that, but it's new. So you a study size of one (I do know a transplant patient who is also taking it but her GFR is substantially higher than yours).

According to the NIH drug website, beta blockers are also on the warning list for medication interactions with this medication; not sure why but they appear to fall under the coagulation issue (they slow the heart rate and are designed to make the blood easier to pump (although they are not supposed to be blood thinners). They are often used in conjunction with blood thinners in many heart patients which may be why they're listed. And MANY kidney patients take beta blockers (including you, I think).

But all of that said--I don't think you're about to be the next 68 year old new mother and your doctor is doing regular labs to check your liver function and KNOWS you're taking this medication--these are warning, cautions and notes that are NOT on the Omega-3 bottles found in the supermarket or health food stores! The supplement industry is unregulated and the buyer is on his or her own to determine what is safe for them to take in their particular condition and what isn't. Relying on the recommendations of others who have limited or no training, or who have a financial stake in selling the product is putting your health and your life at risk.

When we buy supplements and don't do some serious research and have a discussion with our doctors beforehand, we run some substantial risks of causing ourselves harm in an attempt to get better.

In addition, when we talk about taking "high doses" of anything, it's essential to first know what a "high dose" means and where it comes from. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many foods, such as fatty fish (salmon is the most commonly referenced although sardines are also high in Omega-3s as well) as well as in nuts and seeds (most commonly walnuts and ground flax seeds; unground flax seeds go through your digestive tract undigested, so you get no benefit from them whatsoever, but will get pain if you have diverticuli). Eating 3 servings per week of salmon will get you enough Omega-3s to remain healthy. However, most of us don't have ready access to line-caught wild Pacific salmon and the farmed salmon that is found in most grocery stores (fed with farmed-fish laden, colored pellets so they get the same red color that wild salmon has, otherwise they'd be a bland whitish color) have nowhere near the same level of Omega-3s that the wild salmon does and are infinitely more polluted than certain types of wild salmon (for more on safe fish, see the Montery Bay Aquarium website and read all about safe versus unsafe fish based on both food safety and overfishing (thus eradication of species); they even have a wallet card you can print and carry with you to double check what you're selecting at the market and their site will warn you about the names being used for bottom dwelling fish that are actually inedible/undigestible to humans but being caught by the giant trawlers (which scrape the bottom of the ocean up to the surface and capture everything in their way) and marketed under "made up" names to sound appealing; alas it's not illegal, just unethical).

Omega-3 supplements can come from a variety of sources. While fish oil is the most common, what type of fish is used (salmon, sardine, etc.) and how is the Omega-3 extracted (cold pressed, heat extraction, chemically extracted (the latter means added chemicals in your Omega-3 supplement). The larger the fish, the more chance of toxins and mercury (big fish eat small fish; it's just fact of life and the bigger the fish, the more chance of it having eaten more toxin over the course of its life). Is the supplement purified and tested for toxins and mercury? Has it been tested by an outside lab for purity? Read the label and do your own research. Consumers Report does periodic testing of Omega-3 supplements to determine if they contain what they claim they contain as well as what else is in the product, such as pollutants and mercury. There is also an independent agency that tests the purity and efficacy of supplements (e.g. does the calcium tablet absorb within a reasonable time or is it just going to pass through your system undigested or unabsorbed...I dont' recall the name of the agency/organization at the moment but will post it when I find it (or someone else please do the research and let us know!). As for other sources of Omega-3, borage is TOXIC, period. Primrose can be toxic in large amounts when taken internally. Flax seed is a vegetarian source (although you need to read the label to determine what the capsule itself is made of; most are not vegetarian but actually made from gelatin derived from animals (the label will stated vegan-based capsule; it will genearlly not state the source otherwise--who wants to know they're taking a capsule made of the bone or hooves of cows or horses!). Again, you want a purified product from a known, tested source.

Omega-3 manufacturers have been claimed their product to have nearly every possible curative power known to man (which obviously they simply don't and can't; there is no one perfect product that will cure all that ails us). There is big money to be made in the supplement industry; it's unregulated and plenty of unsubstantiated claims can be made, just as long as they're caveated with that little astrisk (read the little annotation on the bottom of the bottle where it says something along the lines about "in accordance with the FDA, this is supplement does not claim to treat or cure anything". It's in tiny script, so look carefully (and you'll only find it on bottles that have some outlandish claim to begin with--such as Eye-Wise: "Better your eyesight and brain power!" I don't know if this product exists; I just made it up as an example.).

Are there PKD patients who take Omega-3 fatty acids (over the counter versions) at the recommendation or approval/working with their nephrologists? Absolutely! But their nephrologists and/or transplant team probably also recommend a specific DOSE and sometimes a specific brand as well (generally only fish oil and purified to ensure there are no toxins or mercury and tested by an independent lab to confirm purity).

It's also essential to know what this supplement is doing INSIDE your body--why are you taking it in the first place? While the claim is Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect (but do not act like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and PKD is though to have a signficant inflammatory component, Omega-3s also act as blood thinners. As such it is critical that anyone taking them work WITH their doctors and ensure their doctors (nephrologist, internist, cardiologists, etc.) know that they are taking the Omega-3s, how much (specifically how much Omega-3 and a breakdown of how much EHA and DHA is in each supplement and how many supplements are taken; getting the right balance of the two is also essential), and discuss when it safe to use them, when it is not (e.g. how long before a planned surgery should they be stopped to avoid excess bleeding), etc. See all the notes and precautions about Lovaza above for the information you will never see on an Omega-3 bottle from a health food store (except maybe the do not take if allergic to fish--duh!).

Coordinated care is essential. As time has gone by, more and more doctors are open to discussing supplements, vitamins, Omega-3s, etc. with their patients and including them as part of an overall treatment plan. Allopathic (western) medicine has long since recognized that we do not get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from our diet or sun exposure (to wit the recent emphasis on Vitamin D) and there is an increased emphasis on nutrition and even other supplements every day. For examply, my husband's doctor recommended he take CoQ10 when he started to take Lipitor and provided the reocmmended dose and the research papers to back up the recommendation. It's an out of pocket cost, but he's otherwise healthy and we decided based on that research and more that it can't hurt him and may provide some additional protection (he had an adverse reaction to Zocor). However, CoQ10 is NOT recommended for me; it can provide additional energy for cells and my cells are already reproducing at an alarming rate (e.g. way too many cysts continue to form, especially in my liver, which is on a new growth spurt and causing severe rib pain and preventing me from getting any restorative sleep as I haven't figured out how to sleep sitting up without support (even pillows hurt). So what's good for the gander in this case is not necessarily good for the goose!

We are each unique and have different needs. What I need and take (e.g. Zocor) is not necessarily what you (anyone) needs or can take (e.g Norma can't take statins and takes Lovaza instead) and vice versa. We share information, which is fabulous, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's what we each should be doing or taking ourselves!

Have a conversation with your doctor about this if you feel that Omega-3s will be beneficial in your particular case. But please, do not go behind the back of your doctors and take something that is ill advised or in large doses, regardless what dose is available over the counter. This is an UNREGULATED industry, which may work well for some (quite honestly if the FDA was involved, we'd never have accesst to anything and unlike Germany, we don't have a Commission E that researches vitamins, supplemtns and herbal remdies and publishes their work on a regular basis...nor do we have a national health care plan that acknowleges therapeutic massage actually is a treatment for stress and prescribes it as therapy!). But just because they are not regulated, are natural and readily available, does not mean everything on the shelves is safe, let alone for everyone!

KNOW your source, know yourself and know what is SAFE for YOU! The last thing you want to do is to do more harm while trying to do yourself good.

Norma, the bottom line for you is you're not way off base. You're taking your medication as prescribed and getting good results from it. But it also comes with a hefty list of cautions and warnning and potential side effects that aren't provided on the side of any OTC Omega-3 supplement bottle. You have read the information provided with your prescriptions (I hope!) and know the precautions and warnings and are being monitored by your physician. The general population who decides they want to take an Omega-3 supplement has no such advantage.

I hope my novel helps clarify this for you in some detail.

Lots of very gentle hugs,

BTW, keep an eye on your HDLs; the Lovaza studies seem to show that while it is beneficial in reducing overall cholesterol and definitely triglycerides, it also reduces HDLs (the good cholesterol). The best way to keep those UP is to get some exercise, so try to keep up with your walking, as weather permits and indoors if needed (many malls open early for walkers...just a thought). :) "
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Reply #10 - 02/10/11  3:28pm
" Ruth, Don't worry I go in for regular labs all the time to make sure my liver isn't being affected and to watch my numbers. Also I go to the gym, remember??? I'am the old lady that you see in the gym every day walking like a fool on the treadmill and grinding away on the elipitcal. You may even see me on the weight machines, grunting and groaning like a fool. But I do it, not many can say that. I do it because I have to, can't take statins, they make me deathly ill. Thanks for all your great input, I really appreciate it as all do that have no knowledge of Omega 3's.

Norma... "

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