Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Breaking News: Fish Oil Supplements "Out"?

Today the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study about the Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and the Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events. The popular media has picked this up and many headlines are focusing on removing these fish oil supplements from your medicine cabinet- is that the take-home message? Maybe not...

There are a few separate issues to discuss. First of all, note that the reason there was a study to begin with is that it has long been established that populations with primarily fatty fish-based diets have lower rates of heart disease. Being Americans looking for a quick fix, we'd rather pop a pill than change our behavior, so rather than add fish to our diets, we look to taking a capsule filled with fish oil. Supplement studies, however, have not been as robust in demonstrating the same heart benefits as simply changing your diet. This study was a meta-analysis that examined over 3600 previous studies, ultimately including 20 of them that met criteria to eliminate bias and make them truly "evidence based". This included nearly 70,000 patients and their rates of heart attack, stroke, and death. Ultimately, fish oil supplements by themselves were NOT shown to lower the risk of death, heart attack or stroke. Do omega-3 supplements lower triglycerides? Yes- but if you are focusing on patient outcomes and not simply lab numbers, the benefits are not there.

Are there other reasons to consider taking fish oil supplements? Probably so, although I will continue to argue that you are better off adding salmon, tuna, trout or sardines to your diet several times per week. Beyond lowering triglycerides, Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been been recommended for potential benefit against numerous cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, dry eyes, rheumatoid arthritis and even dementia. If you are NOT willing to add fish to your routine diet, then taking fish oil supplements for any of these reasons may be beneficial, and there appear to be no serious negative effects (except for a shrinking wallet.)

BOTTOM LINE: If you are taking fish oil supplements to improve your cardiovascular health, you may be improving your lab values but not decreasing your risk of heart attack or stroke- go for a jog or go fishing (and eat your catch) instead. 


Praveen Pandey said...

Thanx for Sharing such a hugefull information and lots of benifits of Fish Oil. ya u r ryt, Fish Oil is the one of the best nutrician , it has been show to provide a number of health benifits, and recomended by many health autorities as a part of balanced diet. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).One of the health benefits linked to Fish Oil is a low risk of heart attack. very healpfull for blood circulations.

Tiffany Locke said...

It's been tested that fish oils can help maintain a healthy heart. However, it's best to have a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet to utilize its benefits. Without discipline with our food intake, the benefits of omega3 fatty acids will be put to waste. So start changing your attitude towards a healthy life. :)

Tiffany @