Should I Take Fish Oil Supplements?

Are you taking fish oil? It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, and many doctors suggest taking approximately 1 gram per day. We often talk about fatty acids like miracle supplements, improving your heart health among other benefits. But, as it turns out, fish oil might not be so beneficial. This is what we know right now.

Fish Oil

Fish Oil Recommendations

Currently, physicians suggest that omega-3 supplements help prevent heart disease. Specifically, they should decrease the risk strokes or coronary heart disease.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem. Current studies show that fish oil may not be so effective. That’s why, today, we’ll look closely at all the evidence. First, however, let’s define a few terms.

  • Coronary artery disease narrows your arteries with built up plaque.
  • Symptoms of coronary heart disease include chest discomfort, tightness or pain. You may also experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea or even sudden death.
  • Strokes occur when a blood vessel running to your brain is blocked. Symptoms can include weakness, and drooping of one side of your face or mouth. Your speech may slur, and you can lose strength and co-ordination.

We do know that inflammation plays a role in heart disease. What isn’t so clear? Whether fish oil can truly make a difference in your risk.

Does Taking Fish Oil Help Prevent Heart Attacks?

To give a balanced answer to this question, we had to dig deep. So we looked at 10 studies of almost 78,000 high-risk patients who took omega-3 supplements for about 4 years. The purpose? To see if Omega-3 supplements helped decrease their risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks. We also explored risk for other catastrophic events such as strokes, and the need for heart surgery related to heart disease.

The results of the ten studies, unfortunately, weren’t great. The patients showed no significant reduction in fatal or nonfatal heart attacks. Or any other heart disease related events, for that matter. Even further, after looking at the included patients with diabetes and high cholesterol; those taking cholesterol lower medication (statin); and people who already had heart disease; fish oil didn’t improve their health at all.

Now, why are we telling you all this? We want to get to the overall take-home point: based on the best current data, there is no evidence that taking fish oil supplements at the currently recommended dose (1 g/d) will decrease your risk of heart attack, death from a heart attack, or other significant events caused by heart disease.

Sadly, this study isn’t our only evidence for that conclusion. The US Agency for Healthcare Research, and Quality reported similar results in 2016: people taking omega-3 supplements showed no signs of reduced heart health risks.

The Future of Fish Oil Supplements

Still, you don’t need to toss out your fish oil supplements just yet. We need further studies to determine whether high doses of fish oil, combinations of fish oil and other treatments such as diet and lifestyle interventions, or statin use can decrease the risk of heart disease. Current studies looking at whether 3-4 grams of fish oil per day may provide benefit are in progress.

In the meantime, however, protecting your vein health and improving your circulation can minimize your risk for certain circulatory conditions, including Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) To learn more about your current health situation, and to help lower your risk for heart disease, come in for a diagnostic vein scan. We can identify your current risk factors and formulate a treatment protocol that will lower your risk for dangerous complications.

Sources: National Library of Medicine, JAMA Cardiology

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