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Reduce heart risk: is it advisable to take fish oil supplements?
For years, experts have been debating whether taking omega-3 fatty acid capsules is a recommended nutritional supplement to protect against heart diseases or not. Studies come to different conclusions here. However, newer findings are more likely to speak for fish oil preparations.
According to experts, no other nutritional supplements are bought as often as fish oil capsules. The background for this is evidence from various studies that a lot of fish in the diet has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular risk. Can such preparations really protect against heart diseases?
Reduce risk of heart attack and stroke
As the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA) writes in a recent article, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a fish oil drug for some patients with elevated triglyceride levels to reduce the risk of heart attack, Reduce stroke and other cardiovascular events.
The drug contains a certain type of omega-3 fatty acids and can be used as an adjunctive therapy for people who are being treated with a statin.
Does this mean that you should take fish oil supplements? Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, explains.
A pill does not replace a healthy lifestyle
Does fish oil really help reduce the risk of heart disease? "Yes," says Dr. Kopecky. He points out that it would be advisable to eat about 170 grams of fish three times a week. Weekly fish consumption of around one pound would be ideal. But: "Most people don't do that."
Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for muscle function, including that of the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart attacks, high triglycerides and high blood pressure.
Dr. Kopecky says that people with high cholesterol and triglycerides over 200 and people who are vegan or do not eat fish should consider taking omega-3 supplements.
But: “A pill does not replace a healthy lifestyle. It has to be an addition to it, ”says Dr. Kopecky.
The doctor suggests that taking an omega-3 supplement plus regular exercise, no smoking, enough sleep, eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and, if possible, eating fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel will improve heart health improve.
Contradictory study results
Even though the recommendation for a healthy lifestyle is probably shared by all experts, not everyone agrees how sensible it is to take fish oil supplements.
An investigation by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital concluded that taking omega-3 fish oil as a dietary supplement reduces the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) a few months ago.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also showed that fish oil ingredients can protect against heart attack and stroke.
However, a work by researchers from Great Britain published in the specialist magazine "JAMA" came to the conclusion that fish oil dietary supplements cannot protect against heart diseases. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Minute: Figuring out fish oil, (accessed: January 14, 2020), Mayo Clinic
- Yang Hu, Frank B. Hu and JoAnn E. Manson: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis of 13 Randomized Controlled Trials Involving 127 477 Participants; in: Journal of the American Heart Association, (published: September 30, 2019), Journal of the American Heart Association
- Deepak L. Bhatt, Ph. Gabriel Steg, Michael Miller, Eliot A. Brinton, Terry A. Jacobson, Steven B. Ketchum, Ralph T. Doyle Jr., Rebecca A. Juliano, Lixia Jiao, Craig Granowitz, Jean-Claude Tardif , John Gregson, Stuart J. Pocock, Christie M. Ballantyne and on behalf of the REDUCE-IT Investigators: Effects of Icosapent Ethyl on Total Ischemic Events; in: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, (published: 03.06.2019), Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- Theingi Aung, Jim Halsey, Daan Kromhout, Hertzel C. Gerstein, Roberto Marchioli, Luigi Tavazzi, Johanna M. Geleijnse, Bernhard Rauch, Andrew Ness, Pilar Galan, Emily Y. Chew, Jackie Bosch, Rory Collins, Sarah Lewington, Jane Armitage , Robert Clarke: Associations of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Use With Cardiovascular Disease Risks, Meta-analysis of 10 Trials Involving 77 917 Individuals; in JAMA, (published: January 31, 2018), JAMA