Pills of fish oil are one of the most popular dietary supplements, especially because they promote better health of the brain and heart. But could certain supplements be worse than you thought for your heart? Some Omega-3 supplements do more harm than good, according to a new study.
Scientists at Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute report that a high level of one of the fatty acids commonly found in products is associated with a greater risk of heart defects. While another ingredient improved heart health, the combination showed “blunted” effects, according to the study.
The researchers behind the results are now saying that doctors should not recommend Omega-3 supplements for their patients. Rather, they say that Omega-3 foods rich in fatty fish are a much healthier option. The study examines the impact of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid, using data from almost 1,000 patients collected over a 10-year period (DHA).
“The advice of taking Omega-3s for the sake of your heart is omnipresent, but past studies have demonstrated that science doesn’t truly support this at all,” says Viet Le, the Institut’s cardiology researcher, in a statement. “Our findings show that not all omega-3s are alike, and that EPA and DHA combined together, as they often are in supplements, may void the benefits that patients and their doctors hope to achieve.”
The Intermountain Healthcare database started in 1993 and has been used by researchers through the INSPIRE registry, with more than 35,000 blood samples from almost 25,000 patients. Between 1994 and 2012, they identified 987 patients undergoing their first documented coronary angiographic study at Intermountain Healthcare. The circulating levels of EPA and DHA in their blood were measured from those blood samples.
Researchers tracked these patients for 10 years in search of major heart problems including cardiac attack, stroke, heart failure or death. Patients with the highest levels of EPA have been shown to be less likely to have major heart problems.
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