Supplements Your Health & Wellness

Are fish oil supplements just another red herring?

Written by Diane Archer

There appears to be precious little evidence of the benefits  to individuals of fish oil supplements, according to research out of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and, more recently, a US study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers at the University of Auckland found that if you’re hoping to help your heart by consuming fish oil supplements, you might want to stop hoping and switch to eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. But, you should do so in moderation. Researchers analyzed the results of 18 randomized clinical trials between 2005 and 2012 and found essentially no basis for recommending people take fish oil supplements.

The US researchers tested whether fish oil supplements help people with dry eye, a common condition in which the eye is inflamed, causing vision problems and pain. In their study 500 people received either fish oil supplements or a dummy pill every day over a year.  They found that people who took the supplements had the same symptoms at the end of the year as people who took the dummy pill.

So, instead of taking fish oil supplements, eat mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut and salmon, which all provide omega-3 fatty acids, otherwise known as fish oil. Eating broiled or baked fish could reduce your risk of cardiac death. But, beware, if you eat fried fish, you likely increase your risk of heart disease.

Eating fish also may increase your exposure to methylmercury. Swordfish, king mackerel, shark, or tilefish have high levels of methylmercury. Higher mercury consumption is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease; however results are mixed. As always, the key is moderation and a balanced diet.

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2 Comments

  • I have been taking Krill gelkaps for about 4 years. I find that swelling is MUCH less of a problem from evidence of a few moles
    and other internal conditions where I might use aspirin or Ibuprofen.
    I had a stent installed in my right Circumflex artery in Feb 2013. My
    recovery has been smooth and consistent. This is NOT scientific
    nor to I present it as such. It is personal experience. I have offered
    it to a friend who runs and she is running pain free and swelling is
    reduced by her knowledge of her running experience. I ask anybody
    about allergies to shrimp or other seafoods before I even tell about
    Krill.

  • I was diagnosed with very early dry macular degeneration last summer. The doctor’s recommendation was to start taking omega-3 supplements. Any thoughts on this? Such contradictory reports are confusing, for sure.

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