The Risks & Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements

August 24, 2016
Fish Oil Supplement Risks & Benefits

A growing body of research suggests that fish oil supplements may hold substantial health benefits, especially for people diagnosed with coronary artery disease. At the same time, there have also been a number of misleading claims that appear to overestimate fish oil benefits. If you've thought of adding these supplements to your dietary regimen, learn important fish oil risks, myths and facts.
What Are They?
Abundant with two essential omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), fish oil supplements are harvested from the fatty tissue of oily, cold water fish. Once the oil is processed to eliminate impurities, it is either bottled or encased in a gelatin capsule for convenient consumption.
What They Can Do
Thousands of studies provide strong evidence that fish oil supplementation can benefit the cardiovascular system, especially among people who already suffer from coronary artery disease. Many studies have also shown that fish oil appears to reduce inflammation, which make it a potential treatment for a wide range of health problems. Still other studies indicate that fish oil could help relieve depression, ward of certain forms of cancer and help with dementia. With that said, although there has been promising research, there is not yet enough evidence to support many of these claims.
What They Can't Do
While some research has indicated that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids might protect brain health, researchers at the National Institutes of Health recently found that omega-3 supplements offered no noticeable impact on cognitive decline in older persons. Other studies have shown inconsistent results related to the actual health impact of fish oils. For instance, in a large review published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers said they found no associated between fish oil supplementation and a lower risk of all-cause mortality, sudden death, cardiac death, stroke or myocardial infarction.
What Are the Risks?
While fish oil may indeed offer health benefits to certain people, some research suggests it might not be appropriate for everyone. Several studies indicate that fish oil might increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Other studies have shown it could increase the risk of prostate cancer for certain individuals.
Should I Take Fish Oils?
While current research offers limited insight into the potential health benefits of fish oil, experts agree that supplementation is generally safe for most healthy people. If you would like to add fish oil to your dietary regimen, get an evaluation from your doctor to see if any existing health issues might make supplementation imprudent.

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