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Published on August 10, 2017

Fish oil supplements for heart health

Fish oil supplements for heart health

Do fish oil supplements provide measurable heart-health benefits? Americans seem to think so, making the source of omega-3 fatty acids the third most popular dietary supplement after vitamins and minerals. Yet medical researchers are increasingly raising questions about whether fish oil supplements offer significant health benefits.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, most studies of fish oil published between 2005 and 2012 in leading medical journals found no benefit for those taking fish oil supplements. The author of one of those studies declared "the era of fish oil as medication could be considered over now."

In the 1970s, research by Danish scientists first suggested that a diet rich in fish oil could be healthy for the heart. That early research was boosted by several studies in the 1990s that led the American Heart Association to endorse fish oil supplements as a way to boost omega-3 acids in their diets.

Since then, however, the research has been remarkably consistent in showing no benefit from fish oil supplements. One leading study of 12,000 people published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 found that fatty acid supplements did not reduce heart disease.

So what to do? Doctors recommend eating oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna at least twice a week and only turning to fish oil supplements if you get absolutely no fish in your diet. If you have a prior history of heart disease, evidence suggests that including fatty fish in your diet once or twice a week could be very beneficial.

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