- A new analysis assessed the extent of heart health-related claims about fish oil supplements.
- Researchers say most products contain claims, but many lack supporting test data.
- Some studies have found that fish oil supplements have no effect on cardiovascular health, but some studies show that supplements can be beneficial.
- Further research is needed on the relationship between fish oil and heart health.
Dietary supplements are big business in the United States, with an industry value of over $50 million,
A large part of this field revolves around fish oil supplements, and many of these products have claims related to heart health benefits.
But are these claims backed up by science? This is the question researched by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Their findings stated that the majority of fish oil supplement labels consisted of heart (and other organ) health claims, despite “a lack of trial data demonstrating efficacy.” I’m here.
We also found that levels of the critically important eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can vary from product to product.
Researchers examined label data for commercial fish oil (and non-fish omega-3 fatty acid) supplements.
They examined the prevalence of two types of cardiovascular disease claims: qualifying health claims and structure/function claims.
A Qualified Health Claim (QHC) is a claim made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following an examination of the evidence regarding a supplement’s potential to help treat or prevent disease.
The study revealed that fish oil currently has two cardiovascular-related qualifying health claims, one related to coronary heart disease and one related to blood pressure. Ta. For example, “supportive but inconclusive research indicates that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
The FDA, on the other hand, states that structure/function claims “describe the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient intended to affect human structure or function.” These claims cannot claim that the supplement will prevent, treat or cure. any illness or disease.
Structure/function examples shared in the papers include “Promotes heart health”, “Supports heart, mind and mood”, “Omega-3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular, immune and nervous system health”. is.”
Of the 2,819 unique fish oil supplements evaluated, 2,082 (73.9%) had at least one health claim, most of which were structure/function claims.
Only 399 supplements (19.2%) used QHC: 394 for coronary heart disease, 3 for blood pressure, and 2 for both.
Of all health claims in fish oil supplements, a significant percentage (62%) relate to heart health.
The researchers said this was problematic because “multiple randomized clinical trials have shown that fish oil supplements have no cardiovascular benefit.”
He added that the prevalence of structure/function claims could lead to misinformation flowing among consumers.
The researchers recognized that the study had some limitations.
- Labels have been voluntarily submitted to the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplement Label Database, so there may be fish oil supplements that are not included.
- We Weighed All Supplement Labels Despite Differences in Market Share
- Only health claims on product labels were evaluated, not health claims on advertising or other promotional materials.
- Only the 16 largest potential brands of supplements were evaluated.
An expert unrelated to the study highlighted other potential drawbacks.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplement industry group, released a statement criticizing the study.
“The report seems to ignore it.” [structure/function] Claims and Qualified Health Claims (QHC) serve different purposes. One is providing consumers with general health information that is not disease-specific health information, the latter is permitted. [by the FDA] We need to debate the relationship between nutrients and disease risk,” the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) said in a statement.
CRN continued: [structure/function] Claims may not have the same level of scientific evidence as qualifying health claims, but they still need evidence to support their effectiveness and provide consumers with valuable health information. “
They added, “As the authors point out, the existing representations contain appropriate legal disclaimers regarding the limitations of their claims.”
Unfortunately there is no definitive answer.
why? The research evidence is somewhat complicated.
“Fish oil supplements have always been a bit controversial, especially when it comes to their use for heart health,” said Miranda Galati, MHSc, RD, nutritionist and founder of Real Life Nutritionist.
In the new analysis, the researchers highlighted three different randomized trials, none of which found cardiovascular benefits from taking fish oil supplements.
They found that several other studies showed that higher doses of EPA and/or DHA (2 g or more per day) improved heart health, including fewer cardiovascular events and lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels. noted that it indicates that it may lead to the benefits of However, in one study, higher doses were associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
However, some studies support the use of fish oil supplements to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, “nutrition research is notoriously difficult to do the right way,” says the board-certified clinical dietitian, board-certified holistic dietitian, and founder of The Lions Share Wellness. One Megan Lyons says:
“Humans are affected by many factors, including different health conditions, diverse dietary intake, different exercise patterns, and unique sleep and stress patterns, all of which contribute to our overall health. I do,” she told Healthline.
Professor Lyons said that isolating the very specific benefits or harms of any one nutrient or supplement would require strictly limiting and controlling study participants for years at a time, which is not possible. I explained that there is.
“So a lot of these studies … are often about what researchers can control and isolate,” she added.
Both EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids. “The most important difference is the chemical structure, with different amounts of carbon atoms and double bonds,” says Ally Echeveria, R.D.N. and founder of Eaton Brosher.
The research team found “significant variability” in daily intakes of EPA, DHA, and combined EPA and DHA across 255 fish oil supplements from leading brands and manufacturers.
They said “substantial heterogeneity” in daily intakes of EPA and DHA could lead to “potential variability in safety and efficacy among supplements.”
The median amount of EPA in the supplements analyzed was 340 mg/day, DHA 270 mg/day, and EPA and DHA 600 mg/day.
Typically, “you’ll want to look for a dose of 250mg per day of EPA and DHA combined,” Galati told Healthline. “For people with heart health concerns, up to 1 g may be recommended.”
Excess consumption “can cause gastrointestinal problems such as gas, burping and diarrhea,” Echeveria explained. “fish oil can” [also] Interacts with blood pressure, anticoagulants and contraceptives. “
The amount of fish oil a person needs depends on factors such as diet and underlying medical problems. If you are unsure, consult a medical professional, such as a doctor or dietitian.
Both EPA and DHA are thought to contribute to different aspects of health. “EPA is thought to be even more effective in reducing inflammation and pain,” she continues, adding, “DHA is known to support brain health.”
Basically, neither is “better” or more important than the other. “Our bodies need a balance of both EPA and DHA,” Lyons says. “without it [this]Our bodies are unable to function at their highest level. “
In the United States, nutritional supplements are
If these are not complied with, the FDA “retains the authority to take action against adulterated or counterfeit branded dietary supplement products after they are on the market,” it said.
Nevertheless, problems can still arise with supplements, Lyons says. For example, it may contain less active ingredients than advertised, or it may incorporate “hazardous substances that may be other additives, fillers, or binders not listed on the label, or similar substances. There is a possibility that
Fortunately, consumers can take steps to ensure their safety when purchasing and consuming supplements.
“I always recommend looking for third-party tested supplements,” says Galati. “This means companies have gone a step further to have their products tested for accuracy and safety by an unbiased third party.”
A product’s label or website will usually indicate whether the supplement has been third-party tested.
You could also consider doing your own research, such as “consulting with a professional who can provide personalized guidance on the right supplements,” suggested Lyons.
A new analysis of fish oil supplements finds that many heart health claims lack clinical trial data.
However, while the analysis highlights studies that found no benefit to consuming fish oil, other studies have shown that fish oil can help support different aspects of heart health. Masu. Further investigation is needed to draw firm conclusions.
If you’re considering taking fish oil supplements, be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding them to your daily routine, as fish oil supplements “are not necessarily safe for everyone,” says Galati. says.