Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefits and Aging

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Filed Under: Heart Health, General Health, Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 02/22/2014

Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefits and Aging

Some of you have been reading online that fish oil can make you age faster and shorten your lifespan. So, you’ve written to ask if you should switch from marine-based omega-3s (like fish oil and Calamarine) to safflower oil. My answer is a resounding no! 

Here’s why …

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

The idea that marine-based omega-3s can accelerate aging came from a mouse study on SAMP8 mice—which are bred to age faster. They gave half the mice 5 percent fish oil and 5 percent safflower oil, and the rest 10 percent safflower oil. What they found is that the fish oil/safflower oil combination group had greater oxidative stress and died younger.

I would not base my health decisions on mice—especially when we have a mountain of human studies showing the benefits of omega-3 fish oil include actually slowing aging. The biggest study is the famous GISSI prevention trial in which researchers monitored more than 11,000 highly vulnerable patients who had suffered a recent heart attack. This study is considered the gold standard of fish oil research.

What they found is that the patients who took 1 gram of fish oil each day had 40 percent fewer deaths than patients not taking fish oil. In fact, they stopped the study early because the people in the placebo group were dying at faster rates—so they had to make sure they all got fish oil in their diets. 

The benefit of omega-3 fish oil, and other marine-based sources of omega-3s, is that they penetrate the structure of arterial plaque within three days of ingestion, making plaque less prone to rupture. They also reduce inflammation, improve heart rate variability and make blood less sticky. 

The Dangers of Safflower Oil

There’s also another problem with that mouse study, safflower oil can harm your health. Safflower oil contains polyunsaturated fats which are highly oxidizable, and become pro-oxidants in your body causing free radical damage. But I want to note something here—the miniscule amount of safflower oil you get in some nutritional supplements is absolutely fine. 

The bottom line for you? Everyone should get at least 1 gram of marine-based omega-3 rich oil a day, either through the diet (eat good-quality coldwater fish, such as wild salmon) or a supplement. If you have heart disease, I recommend at least 2 grams daily. 

One of my new favorite sources of marine-based oil is Calamarine. This ultra-pure extract from select ocean squid has abundantly more heart-healthy DHA than regular fish oil, plus it's highly sustainable. Also, stay away from safflower oil as much as you can—that stuff is bad news. I will write more on this subject in the near future, so stay tuned.

Now it's your turn: Do you take marine-based omega-3s?

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