Do you have to contemplate taking a fish oil complement?


The net benefits of these popular nutritional supplements are very limited.

Image: © stocksnapper / Thinkstock

Millions of Americans swallow an amber-colored capsule of fish oil every day, drawn to its purported health benefits. In the supplement aisle of most pharmacies, supermarkets, and big box stores, the shelves are overflowing with fish oil supplements of various brands (see “Fish Oil: A Brief History”). Many benefits for the heart. In fact, a popular brand label has the phrase “May reduce your risk of coronary heart disease” on it.

But these bold marketing claims have failed to catch up with the latest science. Earlier this year, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued an updated notice about fish oil supplements and their cardiovascular benefits. Her Verdict: Fish oil supplements can slightly lower your risk of dying from heart failure or from a recent heart attack. But they don’t prevent heart disease. (A separate AHA recommendation on fish consumption is planned for 2018.)

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