Still Taking Fish Oil Supplements? Read This, Save Your Money

Fish Oil Supplement

In the early 1970′s, Danish scientists published a study that claimed Inuits in Greenland have low rates of heart disease due their diet, high in fish oils, whale blubber, and omega-3 fatty acids. That study set off a global trend that has reached billions of dollars in annual sales of fish oil supplements.

Over 40 years later, it turns out that all this may have been a mistake. Apparently, the Inuit, and other northerly populations relying on fish diets, do not have lower rates of heart disease. Canadian researchers published a new study, “Fishing” for the origins of the “Eskimos and heart disease” story. Facts or wishful thinking?, where they show that the Inuit actually have heart disease at twice the rate as non-Inuit Greenlanders.

How did such a mistake happen? The original research team in the 1970′s relied on faulty data. The information about disease and mortality among the Inuits in Greenland back then was not properly recorded and collected, creating a warped snapshot of that population’s health.

 

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  • Lisa

    Now that’s a big mistake.

  • Breckers

    But aren’t there newer studies showing links between decreased risk of heart disease and fish oil?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      One thing all scientists agree on – fish oil supplements is a very profitable business. Everything else is much less certain. There are studies that show some benefit, others that don’t.

      • OK

        So fooducate says fish oil supplements are not proven and do not bother. That really opens a can of worms of what do you trust with supplements. Fooducate is really putting a lot on the line. Like you say it’s a big money maker. Is money the reason there is no cure for cancer or even aids.

      • joey

        It’s all abt the

    • Donald
      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        The study refers to omega-3 fatty acids, not fish oil supplements. Save your money and buy food rich in omega-3s…

  • tennysmom

    So does fish oil have no benefits?? If so what?

  • Josie Enfield

    What does this mean in regard to eating fish as part of a healthy diet?

  • Lisa

    I work in an ophthalmologist office and we promote fish oil for eye health. There are still benefits.

  • Adrian

    This short article is frustratingly incomplete, and not up to the usual standard of Fooducate blog posts.

    What is the overall conclusion, pray tell? Are you concluding with certainty that fish oil supplements are hooey? Is there other evidence, for or against?

    A 30-second google search gave me this (from 2012) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/762318 which seems to say Omega3′s don’t do much for cardovasucular healt (I think). But are there other ways it’s helpful?

  • Sheryl Childers

    Thank you for bringing this issue to light, but, I don’t believe the consensus is in on this one. I have learned that Omega 3s can prevent mental illness and dementia, and there is still current evidence to support this. I appreciate having my views challenged, though, and it’s prompted me to question a behavior (taking fish oil), which I’ve done mindlessly for a while.

  • michelle

    This is the whole article? Quite a statement for 3 paragraphs.

  • Donald

    I am neither a doctor or a scientist, but I do have CAD and my experiences with fish oil have been outstanding. Writing that headline based on just this information is hack journalism. Shame on Fooducate!

  • JKern
  • xyz

    Sorry to disagree, your articles are usually so spot-on. My neurologist, Dr. Amen, recommended fish oil for my ADD and it works. I wish you would revise this article and come back with your results.

  • Walt

    The journal article has nothing to do with fish oil being useless, but rather that a diet consisting PRIMARILY of animal fat does not improve CV mortality, which should be fairly obvious. I don’t think anyone believes that Eskimos and Alaskans are eating a healthier diet. Look at any CDC chart of poor health in the US and this group is always towards the top in terms of poor health.

    Fish oil has numerous clinically validated benefits as a supplement, and this is poor scare-tactic journalism.

  • H2O

    Thanks I will save my money

  • AJ DeCou

    This article doesn’t support the conclusion that taking fish oil is without its benefits. I’d like to see more support for that conclusion.

  • OK

    So fooducate says fish oil supplements are not proven and do not bother. That really opens a can of worms of what do you trust with supplements. Fooducate is really putting a lot on the line. Like fooducate says it’s a big money maker. Is money the reason there is no cure for cancer or even aids.

  • H2O

    Supplements should not be used has a substitution for real fish, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds

  • joey

    I heard that it’s bad for you as it increases prostate cancer. But I’m confused

    • H2O

      I heard that too

  • puffeyrice

    I take fish oil it is very useful and helpful for me someone in fooducate should check the facts more closely? !

  • kitchencruizer

    Fish oil has many benefits, but I eat a lot fish so I take flax seed oil instead recommended by my doctor to help keep my blood flowing and helps to prevent heart disease.

  • Brandon

    There is no right or wrong answer on this subject. Fooducate needs to do more research before making claims. I recommend this article from Harvard Medical on the topic http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467

    Please help to improve health instead of making without facts.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Quoting from the study you linked to:

      “Despite this one study, you should still consider eating fish and other seafood as a healthy strategy. If we could absolutely, positively say that the benefits of eating seafood comes entirely from omega-3 fats, then downing fish oil pills would be an alternative to eating fish. But it’s more than likely that you need the entire orchestra of fish fats, vitamins, minerals, and supporting molecules, rather than the lone notes of EPA and DHA.”

      –> save your money folks…

  • Tony

    Much of the evidence for omega-3s and fish oils has been epidemiological. That is, they look at prevalence of disease in populations consuming large quantities of foods high in omega-3s. There are myriad problems with this approach, not least of which is that we cannot be certain these studies control for all other factors that may change health outcomes. Furthermore, how rich it is for humans to assume we can distill something so infinitely complex as the human diet into a single substance which we then hypothesize is responsible for the health benefits detected in said studies. Since omega-3 supplements have been marketed, they’ve been studied over and over again, and the evidence is quite clear that they offer no discernible benefit to health. That is not to say that foods high in omega-3s do not have health benefits. It is to say that it seems from the best available evidence that we cannot get the same benefits from pills in a bottle. There is insufficient evidence that they provide any benefit for learning disorders, behavioral disorders, autism, depression, cognitive dysfunction, infant development, or cardiovascular disease.

    1. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012 Dec 12;12:CD009398

    2. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012 Jul 11;7:CD007986

    3. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Nov 9;11:CD007992

    4. Am J Clin Nutr 2006 Dec;84(6):1308-16

    5. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012 Jun 13;6:CD005379

    6. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;(1):CD000375

    7. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008 Jan 23;1:CD000376

    8. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010 Dec 8;12:CD007901

    9. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004 Oct 18;4:CD003177