Do omega-3 supplements really have cardiovascular benefits?

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It has been so widely accepted that omega-3 supplements promote cardiovascular health that few people question it. But a new review by the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 79 randomized trials involving 112,000 people, and their results speak to the contrary.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. Nutrients that are ‘essential’ are those that our body needs in order to function, but cannot make by itself. We do, therefore, need to ingest small amounts of this fatty acid, which is naturally present in delicious foods such as nuts, seeds and oily fish.

But, as The Guardian reports, thousands of people take omega-3 supplements over long periods of time, at least in part because of a belief that it’s good for their heart health. This new review suggests they may not need to do so. Lead author of the review, Dr. Lee Hooper, of the University of East Anglia, reported to The Guardian:

We can be confident in the findings of this review which go against the popular belief that long-chain omega-3 supplements protect the heart.

This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods. Despite all this information, we don’t see protective effects.

The review was conducted at the request of the Word Health Organization, who are updating their guidelines on polyunsaturated fats. According to Nina Teicholz, there was not very much evidence supporting the health benefits of omega-3 supplements from the beginning. She wrote on Twitter:

These recommendations were always based on weak science. Like so many others.

Do you take omega-3 supplements? These findings may make you think twice about buying the next bottle. Good-quality and responsibly-sourced whole foods that naturally contain the omega-3 the body needs may be a better thing to spend money on.

The Guardian: Omega-3 no protection against heart attack or strokes, say scientists

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20 Comments

  1. BobM
    I switched from supplements to fish a long time ago. I still think the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is important, so I've lower the amount of chicken and pork I'm eating, raised the amount of beef and lamb, and stopped eating anything with seed oils. I even eat less of certain nuts.
  2. Michael
    Since going strict Keto, I have moved away from all supplements. As clean as I am eating, without the processed garbage the SAD promotes, I believe I get enough. I also have come to believe that spending all of that money on pills is just making someone else richer for me to pee down the toilet.
  3. Albert
    It’s going to be strange, but I have very much improved my health since I began taking omega 3 supps maybe because I’m a vegetarian I don’t know but for me they’ve been doing the job.
  4. Don
    My cholesterol numbers improve when on omega 3.My ldl went from 169 to 99 keeping me off stains.Triglycerides are perfect, and hdl is 60. I will continue to use res-q 1250
  5. Marcia Abreu
    For many years I'm taking omega 3 and work very well for me..I'm 67 yrs old and I work night shifts 12 hours for over 20 yrs. I do my physical every yrs and every thing doing well, I honestly believe that omega 3 its help ..tku, I'm Spanish women
  6. Herma
    How many people in the world can eat salmon regularly? Only those in a few rich countries close to the North Pole. I realise this is a Swedish website, but many of the recommended foods are unknown, unavailable or unaffordable to people in other parts of the world.
  7. Shelley
    😮 No benefit? Even when consuming a diet dominated by omega 6, tell that to Nora Gedgaudes
  8. Vincent
    I bet ALL the researchers that did this study STILL take Omega 3 fatty acid supplements!
  9. Ljh
    Omega 3 and vitD3 work for me: as antidepressants!
  10. Mikael
    My wife had multiple allergies for years and years.....especially bad with dust....
    We heard that omega3 might help against allergies. She started taking the Balance oil from Zinzino and after 5-6 months her allergies were gone.
    We live very healthy lives with few carbs and natural organic foods, but for my wife this was very healpful.
  11. Donald
    I tried to find what dosage of fish oil was used in these studies. No luck. Like most similar studies, I suspect it was a very low amount which would not make much difference. If someone knows please tell.
    Reply: #20
  12. Patricia
    I also benefit from the use of Omega 3. My Boston Lab results suggest good numbers on various panels. Even if not for cardiovascular purposes, Omega 3 is beneficial for brain health and helping the body bounce back from transient stressors and other ailments.
  13. Joanne Marchand
    Check out Juice Plus Omega3 suppliments . They actually have reported clinical studies and found the omega 3 came from the algae the fish were eating and not fish themselves. They are awesome.
  14. Chad
    I’ll tell you a truth… I have no letters after my name however the truth is still truth . Without knowing if omega 3 supplements are good or bad. The ratio of omega 3 to 6 should be the primary focus. All modern diets are excessive in omega 6… Stop using standard salad dressings and mayo. Even eating low carb these will kill your omega 3 to six ratio. Most are made with soy or canola oil. Don’t count canola as omega 3 its short chain and the body can minimally convert it to DHA. It’s highly oxidized and quite frankly toxic.
  15. Chad
    fish is not the best source of omega 3... its algae... farmed salmon is fed soy.. fish don't magically make omega 3
  16. Diane
    Flawed review that can tell us nothing as the majority of people taking the supplements would no doubt be eating the Western diet high in Omega 6 oils and therefore it is no surprise that the Omega 3 supplements made no difference. A proper study would look at the balance of 6 to 3 in the person's body and that effect on heart health.
  17. Martin
    Omega 3 supplements are very prone to oxidation and oxidised Omega 3 oils are very bad for the health. Cheap supplements may be more prone to oxidation and this may explain why some studies fail. Using quality supplements kept refrigerated or ideally getting your Omega 3s from oily fish is preferable. I agree too that if there were high levels of Omega 6 in the diet then the benefits of supplements may be negated.
  18. Martin
    Also a Chinese study analysing over 400,000 people concluded that Omega 3 oils do protect against heart disease. I expect that in China, they will have less processed vegetable oils in the diet and therefore a better Omega 3 to 6 ratio. The China Study is referenced in this article:
    https://www.wddty.com/news/2018/07/fish-oils-dont-protect-against-hea...
  19. Carmen
    For some reason these supplements help my joints not to hurt. I feel they help with flexibility. When i stop taking them, the aches and pains return.
  20. sheila
    Try Vital Choice supplements. Their website is Vitalchoice.com - I hope that helps!

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