Should I stop taking fish oil?

… as it does not help for my HEART…?

Researchers in the United Kingdom recently (Jan 31, 2018) announced that fish oil supplements may not help to prevent death from heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke. Many people got confused as there were so many evidence that fish oil is very beneficial for the heart health.

The Mediterranean diet, which prefers fish, is associated with long life, energy, and vitality. Reliable research has proven that people who eat more than two meals of fish per week have a lower risk of heart disease.

There also has been published many studies (1,2) unfolding the potential of omega-3s to reduce cardiovascular risks. American Heart Association advised (3) people with a previous of heart issues to take omega-3 supplements. Heart Foundation also recommended (4) adding omega-3 supplements to the diet to those people who have heart disease or higher risk.

What do the newest studies say?

British researchers of the University of Oxford analyzed records from 10 randomly picked trials (5).

There were 77,917 people in this study (61% men, 39% woman), with the average age of 64. The average study duration – 4.4 years. The dosage of omega-3’s was from 226 mg to 1800 mg per day.

Participants, that had a previous history of heart conditions, were given omega 3 supplement or a placebo. People of the group, that took the supplements every day, had an average risk reductions of:
– 7% for heart disease death;
– 3% for heart attack;
– 4% for any events of heart diseases.

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What is the conclusion of the newest studies?

The percentage of positive cases is not large. So, the verdict of the mentioned research is that fish oil supplements give just slight benefit for heart health.

Though University of Oxford researcher found a small effect for those who already had heart disease or a heart attack, they do not support a recommendation to supplement diets with fish oil.

American Heart Association also has been announced that fish oil supplements are associated with a 10% reduction in death. So this is quite a similar figure to the statement above (7%).

The conclusion of heart association is that there is no evidence to recommend prescribing fish oil supplements for the heart health for the general population. Quite important words are “general population” as there has been seen some benefits among those who already had heart diseases.

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What are other opinions?

Of course, not all scientists / doctors think that omega-3 supplements need to be forgotten.

According to the above statements, fish oil does not help for healthy people, but it helps for those who already have a sickness. So weird conclusion might be that we need to wait until we get sick and only then to supplement it.

Professor Barbara Meyer (Director of the University of Wollongong’s Lipid Research Centre) noticed (6) that most of the study cases did not use a high enough dosage of omega 3 supplements.

“Only two studies used the correct dose of omega-3, particularly 0.5g of DHA per day … and these two trials are in favor of omega-3 having benefit for coronary heart disease death.”

Professor Barbara Meyer

There is also another thing, that there are multiple factors involved in the heart disease. Fish oil may not be able to prevent heart disease or stroke, but it can reduce the associated risks. Fish oil increases levels of good cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, lowers triglycerides and prevents plaque from forming in arteries and hardening them. It may also reduce abnormal heart rhythms that have been known to bring on heart attacks in some cases.

And it’s important to notice: not all omega-3 supplements are manufactured equally. There are many opinions, that say the most potent omega 3 supplements are made from algae, not fish (studies investigated fish oil). There is also very important to check the quantity of DHA and EPA, as the low amount for some people might really not help.

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Should I still take fish oil supplement?

Although these new findings reveal that neither EPA or DHA could prevent cardiovascular diseases in a way scientists said it before, it doesn’t mean we should stop using them. It just means that we shouldn’t rely totally on omega 3 supplements for cardiac issues.

By the way, we need to remember that there are other benefits, like support for brain and eyes function. Fish oil supplements reduce inflammation in the body also.

The last thing, nutrition experts recommend eating fish. Fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies and salmon are great sources of omega-3 fats and it has huge health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends consuming two 3½-ounce meals of fish every week. So this is also the answer to the question if we need Omega 3 supplements – it depends on how much fish we have in our diets.

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