If The Benefits Of Fish Oil Are So Uncertain, Why Are People Still Using It?

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The vast majority of research on the purported benefits of fish oil supplements much that is extraordinarily specific (e.g., gum disease, pneumonia, and various food allergies) — has been inconclusive.
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That’s probably partly because studies of the effects of dietary supplements are notoriously poorly structured, with no placebo controls or attempts to account for additional factors such as diet and lifestyle that could also affect users’ results. Many studies are also isolated cases with no substantive follow-up to substantiate or refute their claims, leaving consumers of fish oil with a lot of weak information.

Also, some of the inconsistency may be due to the fact that not all of the hundreds of different fish oil products on the market are created equal. Studies on over-the-counter dietary supplements containing fish oil have found that many of them misstate the amount of EPA and DHA they contain, particularly in relation to each other, or omit details about additional bulking ingredients they use. (The supplement industry in America is notoriously under-regulated.) In most supplements, only about a third of the product is omega-3s, Mason said, based on his own and other watchdog research. So they can afford to make them so cheap. Mason’s research also showed that shoddy production, transportation, and storage often causes the omega-3 fatty acids in supplements to go rancid, negating any benefits they might bring. AA fishy, ​​acidic odor in the container would indicate that the capsules may have gone bad.

So if I decide to give it a try, how much omega-3 do I need?

We know that omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in human development, particularly neurological development. We also know that our body cannot produce them itself. But no one has really figured out exactly how much of fish oil supplements we need as an adult or adult to stay healthy, Kopecky said. A lot probably depends on each person’s individual body, Mason added, although he does point out that our bodies are generally pretty efficient at absorbing it, so you don’t need to keep it in your physical structures every day .

And although the vast majority of people don’t eat fish twice a week according to most dietary guidelines, they still generally get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their daily diet, perhaps indirectly through foods like canola oil or walnuts, to maintain an omega- 3-avoid deficiency.

Doctors don’t actually know much about what happens when someone is omega-3 deficient, Kopecky said, because it’s so hard to become deficient. Case studies suggest it may lead to risks for heart disease, mood swings, inflammation, or even cancer, but that’s hardly a definitive list of effects.
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You would have to have an incredibly poor and unchanging diet to become deficient, Mason said.

Are There Any Risks In Taking Fish Oil Supplements?

While Mason noted that there may be risks associated with consuming some of the adulterants that supplement manufacturers add to their fish oil, our bodies appear to tolerate a wide range of omega-3 fatty acid doses fairly well. Consuming more than three grams per day, however, can lead to complications with blood clotting or reduced immune system function – especially in people who are already taking blood thinners. Some people may also experience nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, or skin rashes. And those who are allergic to any type of seafood should check with their doctor before taking it, even though it may not cause any type of reaction.

Beyond human risks, demand for fish oil is fueling overfishing which is devastating stocks of anchovies, krill, sardines and other environmentally important fish species. Also, catching fish for fish oil production instead of whole fish for human consumption tends to pay less for low-wage workers.

So do I really need to take fish oil supplements?

Unless you have heart disease and your doctor prescribes an FDA-approved product, Mason said, probably not. If for some reason a person’s diet is completely devoid of omega-3 fatty acids and they can’t fix it, Kopecky thinks finding a fish oil supplements might come in handy. But in this case, you should be extremely careful to make sure what you’re getting is actually straight fish oil — and that it’s not tainted or laced with environmental contaminants, as Mason and other researchers have shown is in our modern American dietary supplement landscape all too possible.

We know that a diet rich in fish is generally good for humans. But ultimately, most of us are probably better off eating a balanced diet that includes fish or other products with omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can convert into EPA and DHA.

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