Learn why the news is wrong about fish oil benefits and natural omega-3 supplements.
A while back, you probably saw headlines like this: “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. It is established science that the omega-3 benefits of supplements that contain fish, algae, or calamari oil contribute to heart health.
So where did these headlines come from? Findings were released in the Journal of the American Medical Association by a group of researchers in Greece, who reviewed 20 clinical trials studying the omega-3 benefits of fish oil supplements on sick patients. What they found is that those taking natural omega-3 supplements didn’t have a significantly lower incidence of cardiac-related deaths, including deaths by strokes and heart attacks.
Natural Omega-3 Supplements Benefit the Heart
But what’s buried deep below the headlines is that the researchers did confirm the omega-3 benefits of fish oil in protecting the heart. The researchers noted that omega-3 benefits include lowering the risk of heart attacks by 11 percent and the risk of 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.
Get more of Dr. Sinatra's advice on Omega-3s
The News Overlooks Important Details of This Study on Omega-3 Benefits
There are factors of this study that the news has not reported on:
The researchers looked at a mere 20 studies, out of thousands which have shown that omega-3 benefits include strong heart protection. 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. 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 natural omega-3 supplements each day, preferably two. Many studies use far less.
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.
A Daily Dose of Natural Omega-3 Supplements is Critical to Heart Protection
I've always recommended 1-2 grams of natural omega-3 supplements a day to get the full omega-3 benefits. A recent study leads me to believe that up to 4 grams may be the best dosage to prevent heart attacks. Look for a high DHA omega-3 supplement— DHA omega-3s offer the most omega-3 benefits for heart protection. A great source of omega-3 is calamari oil supplements which are naturally high in DHA, and are sustainably sourced from squid in clean deep ocean waters. Algae oil is another good choice to reduce the risk of contaminants getting into your supplements. I would recommend looking for a calamari oil supplement or an algae oil supplement as the best natural source of omega-3s.
Now it’s your turn: What do you think of this latest research on fish oil supplement benefits?
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