Omega-3 supplements are a bit of a buzzword in the health industry. Lauded for many health benefits, millions of people now take a fish oil or omega-3 supplement every day. However, new research shows that it may not be beneficial to all people.
Fish oil supplements combine a variety of omega-3 fatty acids in a concentrated form. These fats are sourced from fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon. This supplement is often promoted for heart health by doctors and nutritionists who recommend them to their patients. In other instances, it has been found to assist with weight loss. Additional uses include arthritis relief, menstrual health, cancer prevention, and hair and skin health.
Although it is often taken as a preventative method, a new study shows that people who have not previously suffered from heart disease may not see much of a benefit in this area when taking omega-3 supplements. Published by the American Heart Association in their scientific journal Circulation, the findings do support the theory that heart disease patients can benefit from taking omega-3s, but those who do not have a history of heart disease may not.
“Scientific findings from the past two decades that focused on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases continue to show that among people who are at risk of dying from heart disease, the potential benefit of omega-3 fish oil supplements is still useful for people who have had a recent heart attack,” said David Siscovick, M.D., M.P.H., and chair of the writing committee.
However, there were no noticeable improvements in prevention of heart disease among healthy patients. The previously ill, on the other hand, saw improvement in health following a heart attack. The heart’s structure can change following a serious heart attack, but consuming a diet high in omega-3s helped to reduce scarring and improve the function of the heart.
“[We] found evidence in patients with congestive heart failure, a weakened heart muscle, it helps reduce their risk of death and reduce their risk of repeat hospitalization,” said Director of UCLA Santa Monica Cardiology and Imaging, Dr. Ravi Dave.
While a supplement does not provide enough evidence to be recommended by the American Heart Association as a way to prevent heart disease, they still do encourage everyone to consume fish on a regular basis. While the high concentration of an omega-3 supplement is not necessary for those not at risk for repeat heart disease, eating a diet that includes fish does have benefits.
For heart patients, Dr. Dave continues to prescribe fish oil as a supplement, as it has been proven to benefit this population.
“Fish oil is an easy way to supplement your diet that may be lacking in those necessary ingredients,” he said.