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Are fish oil supplements really effective?

Fish oil is produced from the fatty tissues of cold-water fishes particularly salmon, cod, tuna, and mackerel. It’s high in long chain Omega-3 fatty acids, namely Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) & Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA); The human body is incapable to produce both hence need to be acquired from diet.

For a little touch of history, the fountainhead of fish oil supplements started when researchers discovered that Eskimos who consumes high fat from fish, seals, & whales rarely suffer heart attacks. Since then, Omega 3 fatty acids are widely known to…

1. Reduce chances of heart diseases,

2. Control high blood pressure,

3. Prevent blood clots & fatty deposits, and

4. Manage the symptoms of early Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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Now, fish oil is one of the best selling supplements in the world especially in the US. Glad to know that a number of Americans aspire to be healthy.

But are fish oil supplements really effective for heart and circulatory diseases?

Lo and behold!

A recent research conducted by Cochrane confirms there is no little or no effect (as in, nada!) of Omega 3 supplements on coronary heart disorders, stroke, or death.

It involved participants living in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia who were asked to increase intake of omega‐3 fats, or maintain their usual fats for at least a year. There was a combination of 79 randomised trials involving 112,059 people, of which 25 studies were regared as well designed & highly trustworthy.

Key Results:

  • There is high certainty evidence that Omega 3 fatty acids had no meaningful effect on the risk of death from any cause; 
  • Intake of EPA & DHA from dietary supplements makes little or no difference to the risk of cardiovascular events;
  • EPA & DHA used to reduce triglycerides by taking supplementary Omega 3 fats are probably not useful for preventing or treating heart and circulatory diseases;
  • However, increasing plant-based Omega 3 (Alpha-linolenic Acid or ALA) may be slightly protective for some heart & circulatory diseases.

Cochrane is a global independent network dedicated to enhance healthcare knowledge and decision making by gathering and summarizing the best evidence. It works freely and aims to generate authoritative & reliable information. The author is not affiliated with Cochrane, instead aims to provide factual & significant updates about anything organic.

Reference: New Cochrane health evidence challenges belief that omega 3 supplements reduce risk of heart disease, stroke or death. (2018, July 18). Retrieved from Cochrane: https://www.cochrane.org/news/new-cochrane-health-evidence-challenges-belief-omega-3-supplements-reduce-risk-heart-disease

Somehow, Omega 3 fatty acids have different effects in people with different genetic backgrounds. Consumers must also be reminded that supplements are not medical replacements nor be treated as the primary source of nutrients.

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