Yes. I mean, no. It depends.
Fish oil supplements were popularized during the past 10 years. It’s a form of omega-3 fatty acids derived from the tissues of oily fish. These supplements have been promoted as a way to protect the heart, ease inflammation, improve the mood, and even lengthen life.
Omega-3 fatty acids play crucial roles in brain function, growth and development, and inflammation. If there’s one type of fat you don’t want to cut back on, it’s this one. Your body doesn’t produce its own omega-3s, which is why they are essential and you have to consume them through food. You can find omega 3s mostly in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, or in plants such as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and canola oil.
It’s important not to neglect omega-3s as deficiencies have been linked to several health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, mood disorders, and arthritis to name a few.
However, that doesn’t mean that taking high doses will result in better health.
Omega 3s are essential, but whether fish oil is beneficial or not is debatable. For instance, researchers in Italy reported that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did not reduce heart attacks or strokes in people with risk factors of heart disease.
Moreover, the link between fish oil supplements and cancer is subject of controversy. Some research suggest that diets high in fish oil supplements or fatty fish consumption might reduce the risk of cancer, while other research found quite the opposite, linking high consumption of fatty fish or fish oil supplements and a 43% increased risk of all prostate cancers, and a 71% higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
One thing that we are sure of is that omega-3s lower triglycerides (the fat found in your blood).
Food for thought.
Despite all these studies, you should still consider eating fatty fish or plants that are high in omega-3s. The thing is, the health benefits from these foods don’t come solely from omega-3s. You most likely need all the nutrients that come with it (vitamins, minerals, etc.) rather than just omega-3s.
If you are taking fish oil supplements because your doctor prescribed them, I advise you continue to do so.
Otherwise, if you are taking them just for the sake of it, I suggest you rethink this. Like I said, if you don’t eat fish, you can get your daily dose of omega-3s from ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, etc. Only 1 or 2 servings per day is enough to avoid a deficiency.
This is my opinion though. I will always prefer whole, natural foods over supplements. (eating is life, and I hope I’ll never have to trade real, scrumptious food for pills!)
Scientists are still divided on this subject and I believe they will disagree for a while. Do your research and decide who to trust. All in all, you should do what’s best for your health, and if taking fish oil supplements work for you, that’s great!
What do you think? Do you take fish oil supplements? Did it make a difference?