While it’s true that people who eat seafood regularly are less likely to die from heart disease, studies have not shown that taking fish oil as a supplement has the same effect. Still, fish oil vendors continue to make health claims that suggest a wide range of benefits, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
Researchers analyzed the labels of more than 2,000 fish oil supplements with health claims. They found that over 80% used what is known as a “Structure and Function Display”. This is a general explanation that explains the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. For example, “promotes heart health” or “supports heart health.” mind and mood. Claims about cardiovascular health were the most common, at 62% of his claims.
Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, naturally found in fatty fish such as salmon. Higher levels of these omega-3s are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but some experts say the observations are based on dietary omega-3 levels rather than supplement use. says. In fact, two of his recent large-scale clinical trials showed that over-the-counter fish oil supplements did not improve cardiovascular disease outcomes.
But Anne-Marie Navarre, an associate professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the study’s lead author, said the ambiguity in the language used by fish oil distributors led to a false sense of the role of dietary supplements. He said it could lead to information.
“It’s true that omega-3 fatty acids exist in the brain and are important for all kinds of brain function,” she says. “What high-quality studies have not consistently shown is that higher intakes of fish oil in the form of fish oil supplements are associated with improved performance and disease prevention.”
Fish Oil Claims Are Not Scientifically Backed
Navarre was constantly hearing from patients that they were taking fish oil for its heart health benefits, so she and her colleagues decided to create an inventory of the claims on the labels of fish oil supplements. said. Probably none.
Navarre said he was “alarmed” to learn through his research that fish oil supplement labels often contain claims suggesting health benefits for a wide range of organ systems, including the heart, brain and eyes. .
“It’s not surprising to me that my patients find fish oil to be helpful,” she said.
Previous studies have shown “conflicting results” about whether fish oil supplements are beneficial for heart health, and new scientific data in recent years has raised further questions.
A randomized trial of more than 15,000 people with diabetes, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, found an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events between those who took omega-3 supplements and those who did not. There was no big difference.
Another randomized trial involving more than 25,000 participants showed that taking supplements did not reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events or cancer.
Get your omega-3s from food, not supplements
Luke Ruffin, a preventive cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the study, said the fact that the makers of fish oil supplements suggest various health benefits (although he doesn’t make any promises). , said it was concerning given that the evidence did not support it.
“If people really thought they were benefiting from it, we would be prescribing it,” he said.
Ruffin said he encourages patients to get omega-3 fatty acids from their diet. Fish such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are rich in omega-3s, and eating them is part of a healthy dietary pattern, which is “very important when it comes to cardiovascular health.” It’s important,” he said.
“As cardiologists, we want people to take the right medicines and not the ones that don’t help,” he says.
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