The authors of the study first point out that most Americans who eat fish eat it no more than one to two times per week. So they wondered if taking fish oil supplements twice a week might be better than taking them every day. Here's what they did.
They took 65 men and women with an average age of 50 years. They gave all of them the same weekly amount of fish oil. The only difference was that half of them took the fish oil in two doses twice a week, while the other half took it in equal doses every day. Then they measured the amount of EPA and DHA in both their platelets and their immune cells.
Recall that EPA and DHA are the specific components of fish oil that prevent platelets from sticking together and causing clots. And immune cells work more efficiently with higher levels of EPA and DHA. The results answer the continuous vs. intermittent question. Here's what they found:
In every case, the continuous use of the fish oil supplements resulted in higher levels of EPA and DHA in both platelets and immune cells.
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Once again, we have a really great word to use during dinner conversations. Just start talking about tachyphylaxis and people will be really impressed. Tachyphylaxis describes a basic principle of how the body works. What it means is that the more you do the same thing to the body, the less responsive it becomes. This is true of exercise. That's why you should always switch up on your exercise regimes periodically after your body has gotten good and used to them. And it's also why you should stop your supplements every now and then. If you forget to take them on vacation, don’t stress about it. This gives the body a break from them, which will tend to prevent tachyphylaxis.