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Should You Bother with Fish oil supplements?

Fish oil supplements may night have any health benefits after all.

Fish oil supplements

Fish oil supplements, a popular dietary additive, may not be so good for your health after all. This is according to new research conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“About 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 60 take fish oil supplements, often because they think it is helping their heart,” said Ann Marie Navar, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at UT Southwestern, who led the study. “But extensive research has shown that for most people, there is no cardiovascular benefit in taking over-the-counter fish oil supplements, and at high doses, they can even increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.”

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And you have probably seen such supplements for sale just about everywhere, from supermarkets, to pharmacies and health food stores.

This is because fish oil supplements are a way to get omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health. Some say that Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including,reducing inflammation, improving heart health and reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

But the jury is still out on this and more research needs to be conducted. What is more, the benefits may only come from eating the fish themselves, and not just eating fish oil supplements. This is like how when drinking fruit juices – even when they are all natural – your body does not get the full health benefit from eating the fruit itself because what gets left behind, like the pulp in an orange, helps the body to properly digest the vitamins.

The authors of the study point out that 20% of adults older than 60 years take fish oil supplements for heart health, despite the fact that multiple randomized trials show no cardiovascular benefit.

“Based on what I’ve seen personally in the grocery store and pharmacy, I was not surprised to find such high rates of health claims on fish oil supplements,” lead author Joanna Assadourian, BSA, of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology. “What was surprising, though, was just how broad the types of claims being made were ― from heart and brain health to joint health, eye health, and immune function.”

There are a number of other issues involved as well. For example, there might be other ingredients in the fish oil supplements and the oils themselves may have been processed in a certain way or derived from fish deemed not worthy for sale in the market.

So, until definitive proof is found that fish oil supplements actually have any real health benefits, people should probably just save their money and spend it on a gym membership instead.

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