A few of you have asked us for our thoughts on the “fish oil is useless” research published by Cochrane today.
As always with the media, there are a couple of important factors here which haven’t been appropriately reported:
1) Omega 3 studies generally fall down on a number of hurdles such as:
– Insufficient dosage
– Comparing plant-based and fish-based omega 3 as an equivalent product.
– Using olive oil or other similar substitutes as a placebo/control substance
– Lack of clarity regarding the quality of the oil used. The majority of fish oils available on supermarket shelves are rancid.
No indication is given as to the type or quality of fish oil supplement provided in this trial.
2) This study looks at heart risks. Not ALL risks. And not ALL heart risks either. The majority of the studies included in this trial were on people who had pre-existing cardiovascular disease which therefore means the results cannot be applied to the wider population. Previous observational cohort studies which were not included in this trial suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Omega 3 remains an essential part of our diet, and there is evidence that indicates it can benefit brain function after a stroke, immune function, eye health, those with malabsorption conditions who cannot get adequate intake of omega-3 from their diet, and of course it is essential for a developing foetus. A supplement will never be as effective as a whole food and it should be emphasised that this research does NOT state we should change our dietary intake of fish oils (2-3 portions of oily fish per week continues to be recommended.)
Ultimately, you can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet, so a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, not consuming alcohol to excess and not smoking is the only way to truly protect yourself from heart disease.
We recommend supplements from vegan friendly company Cytoplan who have kindly created these infographics on omega3 and krill oil supplements. If you’re a patient of ours you can order these yourself online using our practitioner code or directly from us in clinic.