FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Are Fish Oil Supplements Helpful?

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Since the 1980’s, the benefits of fish oil has been a hot nutrition topic. I was a graduate student at the time and my research involved the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids (as menhaden oil) would suppress breast cancer tumors when compared to omega-6 fatty acids (as corn oil) in rats. Previous research had suggested that there was enough evidence to warrant the study. Bottom Line: There were no significant differences in tumor formation even when rats were fed high or low menhaden or corn oil diets. This was a surprising finding at the time; therefore, the study was replicated the next year and results were the same. At the present time, further research has shown some promising results in breast cancer research, but some studies with omega-3 fats in humans have been inconclusive.

Since then fish oil (omega-3) fats have been extensively studied in a wide range of afflictions to see if any beneficial effects occurred. This interest was a boon for the supplement industry due to the sale of fish oil capsules that still continues to this day. How effective have fish oil supplements been in supporting some of the health claims that have been made?

First of all, it is important to know the article does not pertain to eating fatty fish high in omega-3 fats. The picture becomes very complicated when it come to fish oil capsules. The news is both good and bad; the research is both positive and negative. The best takeaway is to be careful of the quality of fish oil capsules you choose. The article suggests that fish oil be of pharmaceutical grade so read labels carefully. However, this term is not regulated or clearly defined so it may be meaningless according to ConsumerLab.com.  If you take fish oil capsules, this article is a must read. Then talk it over with your doctor as to whether fish oil supplementation is for you.

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