Researchers challenge fish oil supplements’ heart benefit

Fish oil supplement used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: Fitness Volt]
Fish oil supplement used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: Fitness Volt]

Researchers say there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

A new systematic review by Cochrane, an independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers and people interested in health, combines the results of seventy-nine randomized trials involving 112,059 people.

These studies assessed effects of consuming additional omega III fat, compared with usual or lower omega III, on diseases of the heart and circulation.

Omega III is a type of fat.

Small amounts of omega III fats are essential for good health, and they can be found in the food that we eat.

The main types of omega III fatty acids include alpha­linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA, collectively called long chain omega III fats, are naturally found in fatty fish, such as salmon and fish oils including cod liver oil.

Researchers found that long-chain omega III fats had little or no meaningful effect on the risk of death from any cause.

Taking more long-chain omega III fats, including EPA and DHA, primarily through supplements probably makes little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities.

“The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega III fats on cardiovascular health.

On the other hand, while oily fish is a healthy food, it is unclear from the small number of trials whether eating more oily fish is protective of our hearts,” said the study’s lead author, Lee Hooper from the University of East Anglia, UK.


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