Stacks of studies prove that omega-3 rich fish oil is one of the best options out there for heart protection. And what do you hear about it from the mainstream?
But a single report comes out that makes a really bold, and frankly suspect, claim of potential harm, and they’re suddenly screaming it from the rooftops. A prominent cardiologist even did his best Chicken Little impression when he rushed to declare in a newspaper editorial: “Fish oil can no longer be considered harmless.”
But don’t toss your omega-3 fatty-acid supplements out just yet, my friend. Because, as you’ll see in a moment, there’s a LOT more to this new sensationalistic report than they’re letting on.
And once you take away the fear-mongering, strip away the hype, and look at the SCIENCE, you’ll find fish oil is still one of the best natural ways to protect your heart.
The shaky science behind the new study
You’ve probably seen the headlines. A new study claims that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could raise the risk of atrial fibrillation, a dangerous irregular heartbeat condition.
Now, I’m a pretty cautious gal. I’d never take something dangerous. Not knowingly, anyway. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
So, believe me. If it were true that most folks were facing this risk, I’d be shouting it louder than anyone. But it’s not.
The new analysis of several studies finds that fish oil might increase the odds of atrial fibrillation by a third. But it appears much of that potential risk is at very high doses of up to 4 grams a day.
That’s not a dose ANYONE I know takes. In fact, the only people who typically take anywhere near that amount of fish oil are folks who are on prescription omega-3 formulas.
You remember those, right? I’ve warned you about them before. They’re the drug company’s mostly failed attempt to monetize a natural product.
They’re typically an expensive synthetic prescribed at a FAR higher dosage than most folks like you or me take over the counter. That way, they can justify the prescription.
And that has to make you wonder if the problem the researchers stumbled onto in this single study is truly a natural fish oil problem. Or… if it’s even real… is it perhaps more a problem with the patented, high-dose, synthetic versions?
It looks to me like they’re in no hurry to try to figure that part out. But it’s not the only issue that should make you question the conclusions of this research.
The TRUTH about omega-3 rich fish oil
Omega-3s are called ESSENTIAL fatty acids for a reason. They’re vital to protect your body from inflammation and chronic disease.
Besides, if omega-3s were truly bad and cause heart rhythm problems, they’d have to issue warnings against eating fish too. After all, a salmon fillet or a serving of mackerel contains the same 4 grams of fish oil.
But they’d be laughed right out of town if they did, of course. Eating fish twice a week is linked to a reduction in heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths.
Here’s the truth. Studies show that fish oil can cut the risk of serious heart problems, especially in people who eat little to no fish. One study even found that omega-3 supplements can cut heart risk by 40 percent in folks who avoid seafood.
There’s data from randomized controlled studies that show omega-3s decrease the risk of heart attacks in folks with high triglycerides. Previous research shows omega-3s could have a protective effect against arrhythmias. And studies even show omega-3s decrease age-related cognitive decline.
In other words, there’s a virtual mountain of good reasons to consider taking an omega-3 rich fish oil supplement for prevention. Some of which directly contradict this questionable new study.
But one of the biggest problems with this research is that the folks in the studies that were combined here were not all the same. Their health situations, demographics, and even fish oil dosages and types of omega-3s they were taking were all over the place. And that makes any conclusions that were drawn shaky at best.
I think most people would agree 4 grams daily is typically much too high a dosage except in very specific cases. Up to 1,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA combined will do the trick for most people. Or taking EPA alone is another option.
Your doc can help you figure out if an omega-3 fish oil supplement is still right for you. If it is, he can also help you settle on the right dosage and type based on your diet, lifestyle, and risk factors.