Should You Take a Fish Oil Supplement?

Should You Take a Fish Oil Supplement?

It’s often seen as a cure-all elixir, but it does have its limits when it comes to your health.

Supplements: you take them to stay healthy, keep on your feet, engage your memory and avoid serious illnesses down the line. Are they really doing what product-makers claim they are, though?

Various supplements have been around for centuries. Others seem to be riding a more recent consumer trend, and product makers know it.

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It’s true that some are simply hungry to cash in. Scarily, up to 79% of supplements tested back in 2015 didn’t actually contain the primary ingredient listed on the label as described by 

Thankfully, fish oil supplements weren’t one of these, but it does make you stop and think.

People have been eating oily fish as part of a healthy diet for thousands of years, and for good reason. Studies have indicated that it can potentially help your heart heal after a heart attack, it can boost your immune system, and it can help to ward off anxiety and depression.

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In modern times, since we don’t all eat our weekly dose of salmon, fish oil is popular in a pill form but Some experts are skeptical. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued an advisory regarding fish oil supplements this year. Why?

Companies selling the supplements have touted the fact that fish oil could reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease. The bold statement left some people worrying that consumers could be taking this information to heart too directly, no pun intended.

The Good and The Bad

The benefits of fish oil are debated by experts.

So, here are the facts, according to the AHA. It’s always best to eat fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as mussels, flax seed, chia sees and canola oil over taking the supplements. That being said, consuming supplements is better than taking nothing at all.

It’s true that fish oil seems to reduce deaths and hospitalizations in people with heart failure and coronary heart disease by about 9%.  Be forewarned though, that the supplements don’t prevent heart disease or stroke when it comes to the general population.

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And what about all those scientific studies?

According to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition professor at Penn State University, various studies done on the effects of fish oil on our bodies haven’t enrolled enough people to get clear results.

Others haven’t been  conducted for long enough periods of time. Because of these two factors, the results could be skewed, and it’s hard to say what the benefits truly are.

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Here’s the takeaway as I see it: always talk to your doctor before taking any vitamin or supplement.

Aside from that, fish oil capsules could be doing you some good. They likely won’t save your life, though.

Perhaps it’s best to rely on modern medicine, exercise and a healthy balanced diet, for that.

Photo credits: Africa Studio/; Syda Productions/


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