So it seems omega-3 fish oil supplements might do little more than relieve us of our money. Is there really an omega-3 supplement myth?
For many years it has been an accepted fact that fish oil supplements are a terrific way of looking after your heart and it generally seemed to make sense.
Oily fish is well known to benefit the human diet and deliver an array of benefits including heart health, so there seemed little reason to doubt the efficacy of such a supportive supplement.
A damning report
But a report just released and reported by the BBC seems to have torpedoed what we generally thought and bought into. It seems that healthy heart claims through fish oil supplements are “nonsense”.
It delivers a rather damning conclusion, but it is based on Cochrane Research study of over 100,000 people over a significant period of time and is massively thorough. It has concluded that the chance of gaining any benefit from fish oil supplements is about 1-1000.
Even the most one-eyed betting addict would have to accept those are lousy odds!
I recalled a conversation with a GP about three years who was dismissive of omega-3 supplements and said something about “we have no reason to recommend them”, and that was perhaps the first time I’d heard a dissenting voice from a medical expert, but only now does that view seem to have been unveiled to the wider public.
What do the experts say?
Lead author of the Cochrane research Dr.Lee Hooper from the University of East Anglia, commented; “We can be confident in the findings of this review which go against 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 the information we don’t see protective effects”.
She went on…
“The review provides good evidence that taking omega-3 supplements does not benefit heart health or reduce out risk of stroke or death from any cause. The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect on cardiovascular health”.
So not a lot of grey area there and a very firm and conclusively damning position on the benefits of buying and swallowing omega-3 fish oil supplements to protect your heart.
However, in amongst these revelations, the advice to eat oily fish within your diet remains strong.
Professor Tom Sanders of Kings College, London and director of Heart UK, states; “Current dietary guidelines to prevent cardiovascular disease encourage fish consumption rather than supplements, provides no evidence this dietary advice should change”.
So what do do with that money we’ve been forking out on omega-3 supplements if we want to look after our heart? Professor Tim Chico, cardiologist at Sheffield University stated; “Anybody buying omega-3 supplements in the hope that they reduce heart disease, I’d advise them to spend their money on vegetables instead”.
But is it all a total waste of time?
Dr. Carries Ruxton of Health and Food Supplements Information Service commented; “For anybody who doesn’t eat the likes of mackerel, salmon or herring, a daily fish oil supplement is a way of meeting recommendations.
Not all about the heart
Dr. Ruxton added, “Omega-3 are also used by the body to maintain eye health, immune function and brain”.
So is there an omega-3 supplement myth? When it comes to working wonders for the heart, then these latest findings suggest considerably more myth than fact. But it should not be forgotten that other benefits can be obtained through this supplement which means they are not an entire waste of time and money.
Connect here with WatchFit expert Kate Staples