31 Januari, 2011


Lupus is a lifelong disorder of the immune system. Immune cells attack the body's own healthy tissues, leading to inflammation and tissue damage. Symptoms may be limited to the skin, but more often lupus also causes internal problems such as joint pain. In severe cases, it can damage the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs. Although there's no cure, there are treatments that can minimize the damage.

Lupus Symptom: Joint Pain

Joint and muscle pain is often the first sign of lupus. This pain tends to occur on both sides of the body at the same time, particularly in the joints of the wrists, hands, elbows, knees, or ankles. The joints may look inflamed and feel warm to the touch. But unlike rheumatoid arthritis, lupus usually does not cause permanent joint damage.

Lupus Symptom: Butterfly Rash

A tell-tale sign of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. Other common skin problems include sensitivity to the sun with flaky, red spots or a scaly, purple rash on various parts of the body, including the face, neck, and arms. Some people also develop mouth or lip sores.

Lupus Symptom: Nail Changes

Lupus can cause the nails to crack or fall off. They may be discolored with blue or reddish spots at the base. These spots are actually in the nail bed, the result of inflamed small blood vessels. Swelling may also make the skin around the base of the nail look red and puffy.

Lupus Symptoms: Fever and Fatigue

Most people with lupus experience some degree of fatigue. In many cases, it is severe enough to interfere with exercise and other daily activities. Most patients also run a low-grade fever from time to time. This unexplained fever may be the only warning sign in some people.

Lupus Symptom: Light Sensitivity

Many people with lupus are unusually sensitive to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet light (such as tanning beds.) A day at the beach may trigger a skin rash in areas exposed to sunlight and may worsen other lupus symptoms. Certain medications can make people with lupus even more sensitive to UV light.

Lupus Symptom: Hair Loss

The symptoms of lupus tend to come and go, and this includes hair loss. Patients may go through periods where their hair falls out in patches or becomes thinner all across the scalp. Once the flare-up is over, new hair is likely to grow in evenly.

Lupus Symptom: Raynaud's

Some people with lupus develop a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon. Their fingers and toes become painful, numb, and tingly in response to cold temperatures or emotional stress. This happens when small blood vessels spasm and restrict blood flow to the area. During an attack, the fingers and toes may turn white or blue. People can also have Raynaud's without having lupus or any serious health complications.

Lupus or Something Else?

When lupus begins, it can look a lot like rheumatoid arthritis, which causes joint pain and swelling, or fibromyalgia, which causes fatigue and pain. One aspect that sets lupus apart is the combination of skin rashes with joint pain and fatigue. There are also lab tests that can help distinguish lupus from other diseases.

Diagnosing Lupus

Diagnosing lupus can be tricky. The disease can mimic other conditions, and it often takes a different course in different people. Many people have it for years before developing tell-tale symptoms. Although there is no one test for lupus, certain proteins usually show up in a patient's blood. A blood test for antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) can provide a critical clue. Other lab tests may check cell counts, kidney function, and clotting time. A tissue biopsy sometimes helps with diagnosis.

Who Gets Lupus?

Anyone can get lupus. But more than 90% of people with lupus are women. Aside from being female, your odds of getting the disease are higher if you are:
  • African-American, Latino, or Asian
  • Aged 15 to 45
  • Related to someone with lupus

Types of Lupus

When people say "lupus," they usually mean systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common and serious type. But there are other types. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus – also called discoid lupus -- is limited to the skin and doesn't cause the organ damage that sometimes occurs with SLE. The most common symptom is a circular rash. Drug-induced systemic lupus causes temporary lupus symptoms in people who take certain medications.

Medical Treatments for Lupus

There are ways to control the symptoms of lupus. These include corticosteroid creams for rashes and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for joint pain and fever. Antimalarial medications can help fight joint pain, ulcers, and rashes. Higher dose of corticosteroids may be given as pills or injections. People with severe lupus may benefit from drugs that suppress the immune system.

Self-Care for Lupus

Making some changes to your routine can also help reduce lupus flare-ups:
  • Cover up when you're in the sun.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Improve your stress management skills.
Also be sure to get plenty of rest. Some people with lupus need up to 12 hours of sleep a night.

Lupus and Kidney Problems

As lupus progresses, it can interfere with the body's organs. About three out of four people with lupus develop kidney problems. These problems may not cause symptoms, though some people notice swelling in their legs or ankles. Most patients only learn about their kidney trouble when a urine test reveals blood or abnormal protein levels.

Lupus and Heart Problems

The most common heart problem linked to lupus is an inflammation of the sac around the heart. This may cause severe pain in the left side of the chest. People with lupus are also more likely to develop plaques that narrow or clog the arteries. This can lead to coronary artery disease. Other complications include heart valve disease and inflammation of the heart muscle. Call 911 immediately for chest pain, rather than trying figure out the cause yourself.

Lupus and Lung Problems

The tissue surrounding the lungs becomes inflamed in about a third of people with lupus. This may lead to painful breathing, or chest pain, or it may not cause any symptoms at all. Sometimes lupus causes chest pain that is not related to the lungs or the heart. Instead, the pain comes from an inflamed chest muscle or rib joint. Any chest pain should be promptly evaluated by a doctor.

Lupus and Digestive Problems

Digestive problems are not common with lupus, but some people may experience belly pain, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or inflammation of the liver or pancreas. This can be related to lupus itself or medications used to treat the disease. Some people tend to lose weight during lupus flare-ups.

Lupus and Anemia

Lupus and the medications used to treat it can contribute to anemia in some patients. This means the body has too few red blood cells, because it is not making enough, or red blood cells are being destroyed more quickly than they can be replaced. Symptoms include fatigue, a rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath.

Lupus and the Nervous System

Lupus can trigger a wide range of problems with the nervous system, most commonly headaches. Mild memory problems are a less common complaint that may come and go over time. Some people with lupus have a greater risk for a stroke, and in rare cases, the disease can lead to seizures.

Lupus and Mental Health

Depression and anxiety are a risk for people with lupus. This may be the result of the condition's affect on the nervous system combined with the emotional strain of coping with a chronic illness. Be sure to discuss any concerns about your mood with your doctor or other health care provider. There are highly effective treatments for depression and anxiety.

Lupus and Pregnancy

Most women with lupus can get pregnant, though the condition increases the risk of complications during pregnancy. Because lupus symptoms come and go, the best time to get pregnant is when symptoms are at a minimum. Women who conceive when symptoms are in remission are less likely to have flare-ups or complications. Make sure your obstetrician knows you have lupus. You medications may be modified and you may undergo extra monitoring to ensure a successful pregnancy.

Neonatal Lupus

Most babies born to women with lupus are entirely healthy. But in rare cases, the newborn of a mom with lupus may have neonatal lupus. This condition can cause a skin rash, anemia, or liver problems. The symptoms usually go away after a few months and don't cause permanent damage. However, some babies with neonatal lupus are born with a serious heart defect.

Living with Lupus

The fatigue and joint pain associated with lupus can make it more difficult to do your job or care for your children. You may have to cut back on activities or ask for help when symptoms flare up. But most people with lupus are able to continue with their usual activities.

Outlook for Lupus

Thanks to improvements in treatments for lupus, people with the condition are living significantly longer. The outlook for any given individual depends on how severe the disease is, and whether any vital organs are affected. But most people with lupus can expect to live a normal or nearly normal life span.

Kenali “Lupus”....si kupu-kupu


Lupus Eritematosus Sistemik (Lupus Eritematosus Disseminata, Lupus) adalah suatu penyakit autoimun menahun yang menimbulkan peradangan dan bisa menyerang berbagai organ tubuh, termasuk kulit, persendian dan organ dalam.

Pada setiap penderita, peradangan akan mengenai jaringan dan organ yang berbeda. Beratnya penyakit bervariasi mulai dari penyakit yang ringan sampai penyakit yang menimbulkan kecacatan, tergantung dari jumlah dan jenis antibodi yang muncul dan organ yang terkena.


Dalam keadaan normal, sistem kekebalan berfungsi mengendalikan pertahanan tubuh dalam melawan infeksi.
Pada lupus dan penyakit autoimun lainnya, sistem pertahanan tubuh ini berbalik melawan tubuh, dimana antibodi yang dihasilkan menyerang sel tubuhnya sendiri. Antibodi ini menyerang sel darah, organ dan jaringan tubuh, sehingga terjadi penyakit menahun.
Mekanisme maupun penyebab dari penyakit autoimun ini belum sepenuhnya dimengerti.

Penyebab dari lupus tidak diketahui, tetapi diduga melibatkan faktor lingkungan dan keturunan.
Beberapa faktor lingkungan yang dapat memicu timbulnya lupus :

  • Infeksi
  • Antibiotik (terutama golongan sulfa dan penisilin)
  • Sinar ultraviolet
  • Stres yang berlebihan
  • Obat-obatan tertentu
  • Hormon

Meskipun lupus diketahui merupakan penyakit keturunan, tetapi gen penyebabnya tidak diketahui. Penemuan terakhir menyebutkan tentang gen dari kromosom 1.
Hanya 10% dari penderita yang memiliki kerabat (orang tua maupun saudara kandung) yang telah maupun akan menderita lupus.
Statistik menunjukkan bahwa hanya sekitar 5% anak dari penderita lupus yang akan menderita penyakit ini.

Lupus seringkali disebut sebagai penyakit wanita walaupun juga bisa diderita oleh pria.
Lupus bisa menyerang usia berapapun, baik pada pria maupun wanita, meskipun 10-15 kali lebih sering ditemukan pada wanita.

Faktor hormonal mungkin bisa menjelaskan mengapa lupus lebih sering menyerang wanita. Meningkatnya gejala penyakit ini pada masa sebelum menstruasi dan/atau selama kehamilan mendukung keyakinan bahwa hormon (terutama estrogen) mungkin berperan dalam timbulnya penyakit ini.
Meskipun demikian, penyebab yang pasti dari lebih tingginya angka kejadian pada wanita dan pada masa pra-menstruasi, masih belum diketahui.

Kadang-kadang obat jantung tertentu (hidralazin, prokainamid dan beta-bloker) dapat menyebabkan sindroma mirip lupus, yang akan menghilang bila pemakaian obat dihentikan.


Jumlah dan jenis antibodi pada lupus, lebih besar dibandingkan dengan pada penyakit lain, dan antibodi ini (bersama dengan faktor lainnya yang tidak diketahui) menentukan gejala mana yang akan berkembang. Karena itu, gejala dan beratnya penyakit, bervariasi pada setiap penderita.

Perjalanan penyakit ini bervariasi, mulai dari penyakit yang ringan sampai penyakit yang berat.
Gejala pada setiap penderita berlainan, serta ditandai oleh masa bebas gejala (remisi) dan masa kekambuhan (eksaserbasi).
Pada awal penyakit, lupus hanya menyerang satu organ, tetapi di kemudian hari akan melibatkan organ lainnya.

~ Otot dan kerangka tubuh
Hampir semua penderita lupus mengalami nyeri persendian dan kebanyakan menderita artritis.
Persendian yang sering terkena adalah persendian pada jari tangan, tangan, pergelangan tangan dan lutut.

Kematian jaringan pada tulang panggul dan bahu sering merupakan penyebab dari nyeri di daerah tersebut.

~ Kulit
Pada 50% penderita ditemukan ruam kupu-kupu pada tulang pipi dan pangkal hidung. Ruam ini biasanya akan semakin memburuk jika terkena sinar matahari.
Ruam yang lebih tersebar bisa timbul di bagian tubuh lain yang terpapar oleh sinar matahari.

~ Ginjal
Sebagian besar penderita menunjukkan adanya penimbunan protein di dalam sel-sel ginjal, tetapi hanya 50% yang menderita nefritis lupus (peradangan ginjal yang menetap).
Pada akhirnya bisa terjadi gagal ginjal sehingga penderita perlu menjalani dialisa atau pencangkokkan ginjal.

~ Sistem saraf
Kelainan saraf ditemukan pada 25% penderita lupus. Yang paling sering ditemukan adalah disfungsi mental yang sifatnya ringan, tetapi kelainan bisa terjadi pada bagian manapun dari otak, korda spinalis maupun sistem saraf.
Kejang, psikosa, sindroma otak organik dan sakit kepala merupakan beberapa kelainan sistem saraf yang bisa terjadi.

~ Darah
Kelainan darah bisa ditemukan pada 85% penderita lupus.
Bisa terbentuk bekuan darah di dalam vena maupun arteri, yang bisa menyebabkan stroke dan emboli paru.
Jumlah trombosit berkurang dan tubuh membentuk antibodi yang melawan faktor pembekuan darah, yang bisa menyebabkan perdarahan yang berarti.
Seringkali terjadi anemia akibat penyakit menahun.

~ Jantung
Peradangan berbagai bagian jantung bisa terjadi, seperti perikarditis, endokarditis maupun miokarditis.
Nyeri dada dan aritmia bisa terjadi sebagai akibat dari keadaan tersebut.

~ Paru-paru
Pada lupus bisa terjadi pleuritis (peradangan selaput paru) dan efusi pleura (penimbunan cairan antara paru dan pembungkusnya).
Akibat dari keadaan tersebut sering timbul nyeri dada dan sesak nafas.

Gejala dari penyakit lupus:
- demam
- lelah
- merasa tidak enak badan
- penurunan berat badan
- ruam kulit
- ruam kupu-kupu
- ruam kulit yang diperburuk oleh sinar matahari
- sensitif terhadap sinar matahari
- pembengkakan dan nyeri persendian
- pembengkakan kelenjar
- nyeri otot
- mual dan muntah
- nyeri dada pleuritik
- kejang
- psikosa.

Gejala lainnya yang mungkin ditemukan:
- hematuria (air kemih mengandung darah)
- batuk darah
- mimisan
- gangguan menelan
- bercak kulit
- bintik merah di kulit
- perubahan warna jari tangan bila ditekan
- mati rasa dan kesemutan
- luka di mulut
- kerontokan rambut
- nyeri perut
- gangguan penglihatan.


Diagnosis lupus ditegakkan berdasarkan ditemukannya 4 dari 11 gejala lupus yang khas, yaitu:

  1. Ruam kupu-kupu pada wajah (pipi dan pangkal hidung)

  1. Ruam pada kulit

  1. Luka pada mulut (biasanya tidak menimbulkan nyeri)

  1. Cairan di sekitar paru-paru, jantung, dan organ lainnya
  2. Artritis (artritis non-erosif yang melibatkan 2 atau beberapa sendi perifer, dimana tulang di sekitar persendian tidak mengalami kerusakan)

  1. Kelainan fungsi ginjal
    - kadar protein dalam air kemih >0,5 mg/hari atau +++
    - adanya elemen abnormal dalam air kemih yang berasal dari sel darah merah/putih maupuan sel tubulus ginjal
  2. Fotosensitivitas (peka terhadap sinar matahari, menyebabkan pembentukan atau semakin memburuknya ruam kulit)
  3. Kelainan fungsi saraf atau otak (kejang atau psikosa)
  4. Hasil pemeriksaan darah positif untuk antibodi antinuklear
  5. Kelainan imunologis (hasil positif pada tes anti-DNA rantai ganda, tes anti-Sm, tes antibodi antifosfolipid; hasil positif palsu untuk tes sifilis)
  6. Kelainan darah
    - Anemia hemolitik atau
    - Leukopenia (jumlah leukosit <4000>

Pemeriksaan untuk menentukan adanya penyakit ini bervariasi, diantaranya:

  1. Pemeriksaan darah
    Pemeriksaan darah bisa menunjukkan adanya antibodi antinuklear, yang terdapat pada hampir semua penderita lupus. Tetapi antibodi ini juga juga bisa ditemukan pada penyakit lain. Karena itu jika menemukan antibodi antinuklear, harus dilakukan juga pemeriksaan untuk antibodi terhadap DNA rantai ganda. Kadar yang tinggi dari kedua antibodi ini hampir spesifik untuk lupus, tapi tidak semua penderita lupus memiliki antibodi ini.
    Pemeriksaan darah untuk mengukur kadar komplemen (protein yang berperan dalam sistem kekebalan) dan untuk menemukan antibodi lainnya, mungkin perlu dilakukan untuk memperkirakan aktivitas dan lamanya penyakit.
  2. Ruam kulit atau lesi yang khas

  1. Rontgen dada menunjukkan pleuritis atau perikarditis
  2. Pemeriksaan dada dengan bantuan stetoskop menunjukkan adanya gesekan pleura atau jantung
  3. Analisa air kemih menunjukkan adanya darah atau protein
  4. Hitung jenis darah menunjukkan adanya penurunan beberapa jenis sel darah
  5. Biopsi ginjal
  6. Pemeriksaan saraf.


Jika gejala lupus disebabkan karena obat, maka menghentikan penggunaan obat bisa menyembuhkannya, walaupun diperlukan waktu berbulan-bulan.

Penyakit yang ringan (ruam, sakit kepala, demam, artritis, pleuritis, perikarditis) hanya memerlukan sedikit pengobatan.
Untuk mengatasi artritis dan pleurisi diberikan obat anti peradangan non-steroid.
Untuk mengatasi ruam kulit digunakan krim kortikosteroid.
Untuk gejala kulit dan artritis kadang digunakan obat anti malaria (hydroxycloroquine).
Jika penderita sangat sensitif terhadap sinar matahari, sebaiknya pada saat bepergian menggunakan tabir surya, pakaian panjang ataupun kacamata.

Penyakit yang berat atau membahayakan jiwa penderitanya (anemia hemolitik, penyakit jantung atau paru yang meluas, penyakit ginjal, penyakit sistem saraf pusat) seringkali perlu ditangani oleh ahlinya.
Untuk mengendalikan berbagai manifestasi dari penyakit yang berat mungkin bisa diberikan kortikosteroid atau obat penekan sistem kekebalan.
Beberapa ahli memberikan obat sitotoksik (obat yang menghambat pertumbuhan sel) pada penderita yang tidak memberikan respon yang baik terhadap kortikosteroid atau yang tergantung kepada kortikosteroid dosis tinggi.


Beberapa tahun terakhir ini prognosis penderita lupus semakin membaik, banyak penderita yang menunjukkan penyakit yang ringan.
Wanita penderita lupus yang hamil dapat bertahan dengan aman sampai melahirkan bayi yang normal, tidak ditemukan penyakit ginjal ataupun jantung yang berat dan penyakitnya dapat dikendalikan.

Angka harapan hidup 10 tahun meningkat sampai 85%.
Prognosis yang paling buruk ditemukan pada penderita yang mengalami kelainan otak, paru-paru, jantung dan ginjal yang berat.

13 Januari, 2011

The Truth About "Omega-3"...the Good Fat

Omega-3: The Good Fat

Doctors may tell you to cut the fat, but not all fats are unhealthy. Omega-3 fatty acids may have far-reaching health benefits. Studies suggest they help lower the risk of heart disease, the nation’s top killer. They may also protect against symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3s are found in salmon, nuts, leafy greens, and more – but the health benefits can differ greatly from one source to another.

The Omega-3 Alphabet

Omega-3 fatty acids come in more than one form. The types found in fish, called DHA and EPA, appear to have the strongest health benefits. Another form known as ALA is found in vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach. The body converts a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA, and ALA also has some health benefits of its own.

How Omega-3 Fights Disease

Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help fight disease by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels, joints, and elsewhere in the body. They also decrease the risk for an abnormal heart rhythm, reduce levels of unhealthy fats in the bloodstream, and slow the rate of plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Our bodies can’t make omega-3s, so we must get them from our diet.

Omega-3 and Heart Deaths

If you’ve had a previous heart attack, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of death from heart disease. Studies show a reduction in heart attacks and sudden death among heart attack survivors who boost their levels of omega-3s. This includes people who take fish oil supplements and those who regularly eat fatty fish, such as salmon or lake trout.

Omega-3 and Arrhythmias

Omega-3s seem to have a stabilizing effect on the heart. They can lower heart rate and reduce the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms. Several common sources of omega-3s are shown here: fish, walnuts, broccoli, and edamame, green soy beans that are often steamed and served in the pod.

Omega-3 and Triglycerides

Omega-3s can lower your level of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that’s linked to heart disease. Triglycerides collect in the bloodstream and in the body's fat cells (seen here). Unfortunately, omega-3s increase cholesterol – both the “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) kind. People with high triglycerides should consult with their doctors before taking omega-3. Eating more omega-3-rich fish is generally safe.

Omega-3 and High Blood Pressure

There’s strong evidence that omega-3s lower blood pressure. The effect is small, though. If you have high blood pressure, eating fish could be helpful along with other dietary changes and medications, as recommended by your doctor. One strategy is to replace red meat with fish during some meals. But it’s best to avoid salty fish, such as smoked salmon.

Omega-3 and Stroke

The evidence is mixed on whether omega-3 can help prevent strokes. It curbs plaque build-up inside blood vessels and has anti-clotting effects, so it may help prevent ischemic strokes, the type caused by clots or a blockage in the arteries. At very high doses, omega-3 supplements might increase the risk of hemorrhagic strokes, the less common type that involves bleeding in the brain.

Omega-3 and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Studies suggest omega-3s can reduce symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. A diet high in omega-3s may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Omega-3 and Depression

Omega-3 fatty acids may help smooth out mood disorders and make antidepressants more effective. However, results of studies have been mixed so far. Countries with higher levels of omega-3 in the typical diet have lower levels of depression. Although more studies are needed, the evidence so far is promising.

Omega-3 and ADHD

Some studies suggest omega-3 supplements may ease the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We know omega-3 fatty acids are important in brain development and function. Although evidence isn’t conclusive and a diet supplement can’t offer a cure-all for ADHD, omega-3s may provide some added benefits to traditional treatment.

Omega-3 and Dementia

The jury is still out, but there’s some evidence that omega-3s may protect against dementia and improve mental function. In one study, older people with a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. More research is necessary to confirm the link.

Omega-3 and Cancer

Omega-3s may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and advanced prostate cancer, but more research is needed. The American Cancer Society recommends a diet that includes fish, but the organization stops short of endorsing omega-3 supplements for cancer prevention.

Omega-3 and Children

Be wary of promises that omega-3s have “brain-boosting” powers for children. The Federal Trade Commission asked supplement companies to stop that claim unless they can prove it scientifically. The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that kids eat more fish, as long as it’s not breaded and fried. Pediatricians also caution against types of fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Omega-3: Catch of the Day

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, though some varieties deliver a higher dose than others. Top choices are salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings a week of fish, which is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish or ¾ cup of flaked fish.

Omega-3 and Tuna

Tuna is an old-school staple in many people's pantries that can be a good source of omega-3. Albacore tuna (often labeled "white") has more omega-3 than canned light tuna, but it also has a higher concentration of mercury contamination. The amount of omega-3 in a fresh tuna steak varies, depending on the species.

Dangers of Contaminated Fish

For most people, mercury in fish is not a health concern. But the FDA has this advice for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children:

  • Limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces/week.
  • Limit fish lower in mercury to 12 ounces/week.
  • Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish.
  • Remove skin and fat before cooking fish.

Omega-3 Supplements

If you don’t like fish, you can get omega-3 from supplements. One gram per day is the amount recommended for people with cardiovascular disease. At high levels, omega-3 can increase the risk of bleeding and may interfere with some medications. Fish oil also may deplete vitamin E, so some supplements include vitamin E. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements.

Omega-3 for Vegetarians

If you don’t eat fish or fish oil, you can get a dose of DHA from algae supplements. Algae that is commercially grown is generally considered safe, though blue-green algae in the wild can contain toxins. Vegetarians also can get the ALA version of omega-3 from foods such as canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, broccoli, and spinach – or products fortified with omega-3s.

Avoiding the Omega-3 Hype

Many food products now boast that they have added omega-3 to support various aspects of your health. But be aware that the amount of omega-3 they contain may be minimal. They may contain the ALA form of omega-3, which hasn’t yet shown the same health benefits as EPA and DHA. For a measured dose of omega-3, taking fish oil supplements may be more reliable.

Omega 6: The Other Healthy Fat

There’s another healthy fat known as omega-6. Research suggests it may protect against heart disease, especially when eaten in place of less healthy fats. The AHA recommends getting up to 10% of your total daily calories from omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetable oils and nuts. And now for some good news – most Americans already get enough omega-6 in their diet, thanks to cooking oils and salad dressings.