8 Specific Reasons to Take Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3s are touted to be beneficial for the heart, mind, skin, and a whole host of other things. It has also been found to help fight certain conditions like autoimmune diseases, cancer, and mental decline, [1] but there has been conflicting research about the benefits of taking omega-3 supplements.

 

Does Taking Omega-3 Supplements Really Help?

Because of conflicting research findings about omega-3s, I don’t recommend universally taking them.

Here are some examples of contradictory findings about the benefits associated with omega-3s.

1. Does not help in reducing heart disease in patients with cardiovascular risk factors.

The result of one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements do not help in reducing heart disease risk or risk of death from cardiovascular causes in people with existing cardiovascular risk factors. [2]

Another study advises against promoting omega-3 supplements for the sole purpose of heart disease protection, because they found no significant benefit for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. [3]

2. May increase risk for prostate cancer.

As for the cancer protection benefit, a research cited by Harvard Health Publishing contradicts this, saying that taking fish oil increases risk for prostate cancer by 43%.[4]

3. Not all omega-3 supplements are created equal.

Another factor to consider is the quality of omega-3 supplements you’re taking. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture finds that more than 50% of fish oil supplements “did not meet their label claims for EPA and DHA.” [5]

Fish oil supplements are also susceptible to oxidation. More than the bad odor and flavor of rancid fish oils, these can potentially promote inflammation in the body. This is why in most cases, it would be best and safest to get your omega-3s from food sources.

 

8 Conditions Where Taking Omega-3 Supplements May Benefit You

There are specific instances where taking omega-3 supplements can benefit you. Here is a list of conditions where you may want to try them:

1. If you have any type of autoimmune disease.

2. If you have depression or mood instability.

3. If you eat a lot of omega-6 fats. You should aim to improve your omega-3 and omega-6 balance. The ideal ratio is one part omega-3 to two part omega-6. The problem is most people are consuming more inflammatory omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats. Read my blog on how to improve your omega-3 and omega-6 balance to learn more about this.

4. If you have elevated triglycerides that have not responded to dietary interventions.

5. If you are breastfeeding, as omega-3s are good for baby’s brain development.

6. If you have elevated lipoprotein(a) in your blood.

7. If you have hypertension.

8. If you are vegan or you never eat fish. It might be worth taking DHA supplements to ensure you get sufficient omega-3s in your diet.

More studies have to be conducted to establish the other benefits of taking omega-3 supplements. What are your thoughts on taking omega-3 supplements? Are you taking it for reasons other than what are listed above?

 

Sources:

1 Healthline. (2018). 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3#section9 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

2 New England Journal of Medicine. (2018). N–3 Fatty Acids in Patients with Multiple Cardiovascular Risk Factors | NEJM. [online] Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1205409 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

3 Julie Monaco, J. (2018). Should you still recommend omega-3 supplements?. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3786657/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

4 Howard LeWine, M. (2018). Fish oil: friend or foe? – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

5 Ritter JC, e. (2018). Quality analysis of commercial fish oil preparations. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23255124 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

Be first to comment