Fish oil supplements have been in the news a lot lately. They are touted for their heart healthy benefits as well as their anti-inflammation properties. Although you may just now be hearing about the positive effects of these capsules, they are not new on the scene. Fish oil has been around for centuries and a growing body of medical and scientific research confirms their effectiveness in treating a host of health challenges.
- Fish oil supplements promote cardiovascular health
- Are loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids
- Are effective and regarded as safe by the FDA
- Are simple to take for people on the go
Several years ago, the American Heart Association (AHA) made public their stance on the importance of regular consumption of fish. The AHA believes fish to be a great source of protein as well as beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and they advise eating two servings per week.1 For those people who don’t like to eat fish or who have trouble meeting the recommended dietary intake, the American Heart Association says that fish oil supplements are a viable substitute.
With any product on the market, there will always be evidence to support its health benefits as well as studies to the contrary. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that fish oil supplements may not be as beneficial in protecting the heart as was once thought.2 In the study, researchers re-examined data from 20 existing clinical trials involving nearly 70,000 patients. They concluded that the heart-healthy claims of fish oil supplements were overstated and were probably no more effective than taking a placebo for preventing serious cardiovascular problems.
Various medical doctors countered that study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. These health professionals say that an overwhelming mountain of evidence points to fish oil’s protective benefits, particularly for vision and brain health.3 Dr. Nicols Bazan, head of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Neuroscience Center, was interviewed, and he said that fish oil supplements can promote recovery after a stroke, as well as prove beneficial for heart health. Another physician, Dr. Melinda Sothern of the LSU School of Public Health, explained that pregnant moms who consume essential omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and decrease the bad fats in vegetable oils deliver healthier, leaner babies on average. Dr. Sothern also warns that children who don’t meet the recommended intake of these vital fatty acids have higher rates of obesity, increased rates of diabetes, elevated levels of hypertension and greater incidences of heart disease.
Another condition that has been hotly debated is whether or not fish oil supplements are useful for preventing strokes. During a study conducted by Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury and his team of researchers at the University of Cambridge, in England, the medical professionals analyzed the results of 38 previous studies to examine the association between fish consumption and the risk of stroke or mini stroke.4 At the conclusion of the study, researchers noted that people who ate two to four servings of oily fish per week had a six percent lower risk of stroke or mini-stroke than those who ate one or less servings per week. People who ate five or more servings per week had a 12 percent lower risk. Dr. Chowdhury’s team concluded that fish oil supplements did not reduce the risk of stroke or mini stroke.
Another study counters Dr. Chowdhury’s findings and points out that the essential fatty acids found in fish oil are effective for reducing the risk of stroke. A large Japanese study known as the JELIS trial (Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study) set out to discover if eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) played a role in preventing the recurrence of strokes. EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. During a five-year period, more than 18,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 75 were either given 1,800 mg of EPA or placed on statin therapy. At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that EPA significantly suppressed the incidence of coronary events. It was further observed that EPA supplements reduced the risk of stroke recurrence by 20 percent.5 OmegaMx, is a highly concentrated fish oil supplement, delivering the maximum strength of EPA and DHA.
Fish is considered a brain food. That’s no urban legend or old wives’ tale. Fish oil has been touted as very useful in slowing the progression of cognitive impairment. However, a study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says that fish oil is not helpful in protecting against mental decline. During three clinical trials, healthy people over age 60 who showed no sign of cognitive impairment were given either omega-3 fish oil supplements or sunflower or olive oil. At the conclusion of the study, researchers say they found no difference in changes on learning and memory tests, including word and number learning tests.6
The findings of another study on fish oil and mental decline contradict the London School of Hygiene’s claims. A 12-month study by the School of Health Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences in Lumpur, Malaysia examined the effects of fish oil supplements on elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment. The 36 subjects were either given DHA fish oil capsules or a placebo, and they were tested to measure changes in memory, psychomotor speed and visual-constructive skills. At the end of the study, the fish oil group showed significant improvement in short-term and working memory and verbal memory.7
As with any product, the proof is in the pudding. You can spend as many hours online as you want investigating the health claims of fish oil, but it really comes down to trying the supplements for yourself. A reputable fish oil manufacturer will offer a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their product. What do you have to lose? Take the plunge today!