The Truth About Fish Oil Supplement Benefits

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Stroke, Nutrients and Additives, Heart Attack
Last Reviewed 03/06/2014

The Truth About Fish Oil Supplement Benefits

It’s all over the news today. “Fish oil supplements don’t prevent heart attacks, study says.” “Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements May Not Help the Heart After All.” As a cardiologist, these types of headlines alarm me, because if people stop taking their fish oil, we’re going to see a huge rise in all cardiac events.

So where did these headlines come from? New findings were released in the Journal of the American Medical Association by a group of researchers in Greece who reviewed 20 clinical trials that looked at the medical outcomes of people taking omega-3 supplements from fish oil. What they found is that those taking fish oil didn’t have a significantly lower incidence of cardiac-related deaths, including strokes and heart attacks.

Fish Oil Supplements Benefit the Heart

But what’s buried deep below the headlines is that the researchers did find that fish oil protects the heart. The researchers noted that omega 3 fish oil supplement benefits include lowering the risk of heart attacks by 11 percent and sudden death by 13 percent. They also noted that studies have found that omega-3s can help to lower triglycerides, reduce platelet clumping, lower blood pressure and prevent arrhythmias

Fish Oil Research Is Faulty

Plus, there are other serious issues with this research:

  • The researchers looked at a mere 20 studies, out of thousands which have shown strong protective heart benefits from fish oil supplements. This cuts down on the statistical significance of their analysis.

  • Many of the studies the researchers looked at were done on people who had serious health issues. So the statistical samples were skewed from the outset and can’t be accurately extrapolated to the general public. 

  • We don’t know how much, or what type, of fish oil the research participants were taking. For heart protection, you must take at least one gram of omega-3 rich fish oil each day, preferably two. Many studies use far less. You also need to make sure the fish oil you’re taking is high in DHA omega-3s—that’s where the powerful fish oil supplement benefits of heart protection is found. That’s why I prefer Calamarine to general fish oil; it’s very high in DHA.

  • We also don’t know if the fish oil used in the studies was oxidized. As I’ve said before, you need to be very careful about which type of fish oil you’re taking. If a softgel is cracked or leaking, or if you’re taking liquid fish oil (even if it’s refrigerated), you run the risk of oxidation. Taking oxidized fish oil is as bad as eating trans-fatty acids—it can cause serious heart damage.

Now it’s your turn: What do you think of this latest research on fish oil supplement benefits?

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