HFHT's Practising Wisely Newsletter
For the whole healthcare team.
Issue 57: It's "O-Fish-ial" - Fish Oil Supplements Shown to be Ineffective
August 7, 2018
Omega-3 supplements are the basis for a multi billion dollar industry. In advertising its Kirkland Signature 100% Wild Fish Oil Blend 1000 mg (sold in two packs of 360 for $39.99), Costco states on their website: “Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial in supporting cardiovascular health, brain function as well circulatory system, and joint mobility.”

Money well spent? It would appear not.

A new Cochrane systematic review, published in the Cochrane Library, combines the results of seventy-nine randomized trials involving 112,059 people (visit our Quick Links section to view the article). These studies assessed effects of consuming additional omega-3 fat, compared to usual or lower omega-3, on diseases of the heart and circulation. Twenty-five studies were assessed as highly trustworthy because they were well designed and conducted. Results show that taking long-chain omega-3 (fish oil, EPA or DHA) supplements does not benefit heart health or reduce our risk of stroke or death from any cause.

While small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are essential for health, patients can meet these needs by eating the recommended amounts of oily fish, nuts and seeds. It is unclear from the small number of trials whether eating more oily fish is protective of our hearts

The mainstream and medical media have been weighing in on this issue. Check out our Quick Links section to read articles from SCIMEX, The Guardian, and the CBC.

So, the next time a patient asks about fish oil capsules, we now have some definitive evidence for lack of efficacy. Maybe their money is better spent at the grocery store, or getting a new pair of running shoes or a gym membership.
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