Consumers have been told so many times that dietary fish oil supplements promote heart health that it seems to be accepted as factual. But this conventional thinking is not supported by the science. After decades of promises that fish oil “may work,” the lack of demonstrated benefit leads me to conclude that consumers are wasting their money on supplements in an effort to reduce cardiovascular risk.
A summary of all the evidence was recently published in the prestigious medical publication Annals of Internal Medicine. This review, published July 9, 2019, examined the effectiveness of 24 supplements and diets in preventing cardiovascular disease.
Findings indicated that few nutritional supplements or dietary interventions offered any protection against cardiovascular disease or death and that some may actually cause harm. Omega-3 products, in particular, yielded “low-certainty” evidence that they were associated with reduced risk for myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease.
Other studies looking into what common fish oil supplements actually contain have found that they have lower amounts of omega-3 than specified on the label, variable content and unregulated purity, and potentially significant levels of saturated fat and rancid oils.
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