If you believe the findings of a recent highly publicized research report, you may be wondering if you should throw your fish oil supplements into the garbage. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (September 2012), researchers who evaluated data from 20 previous studies maintain that neither fish oil supplements nor a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids effectively reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In my estimation, this is a seriously flawed evaluation of research. I’ve collected an enormous amount of data that strongly suggest multiple benefits from the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, including protection from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological disease, and autoimmune disease, as well as for bone, skin, and lung health.
There are several reasons why I question the study published in JAMA:
- First, as is true with all systematic review and meta-analyses, this study may be affected by publication bias.
- Second, there was some heterogeneity in study design, including in omega-3 dosage and patient populations. There is much uncertainty regarding the potency and purity of the over-the-counter supplements. The majority of people taking omega-3 supplements are taking poor-quality, low-potency products.
- Third, they did not separate out short-term studies from long-term studies, and the benefits of omega-3 supplements are often not seen until a person has been taking them for more than one year.
- Fourth, due to the fishy odor of omega-3 supplements, complete blinding of fish oil studies may not be feasible. This imperfect blinding was not considered in the quality assessment.
- Fifth, most restenosis studies only presented data for those patients who completed their follow-up angiograms. Consequently, restenosis data was generally analyzed using a modified intention-to-treat, which may result in biased results.
- Finally, due to the lack of individual-level data, the researchers did not estimate the change in risk of mortality or cardiovascular outcomes over time. In other words, did the folks taking a therapeutic dosage get better results? How much EPA and DHA were people consuming? Of course, this is essential information. The availability of individual level data would have also allowed us to examine which subgroups may derive the greatest benefit from the use of omega 3 fatty acids.
If you’re taking poor quality fish oil supplements (which are likely to be rancid, contaminated with heavy metals, or of insufficient potency) then you should definitely toss them into the garbage. But for optimal health, I’m convinced you should be including liberal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. For most people, the easiest and most assured way to get enough of these important fatty acids is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. I recommend and personally take one teaspoon daily of an omega-3 supplement that I formulated that includes the highest quality, purest fish oil combined with sea buckthorn oil and Siberian pine seed oil. These are the three essential fats that I recommend in an omega-3 supplement:
- Fish Oil Concentrate: This is the best source of EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids that are often deficient in the diet. Omega-3 fats are crucial for healthy neuron development and protection, and there is a direct connection between low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and ADHD, depression, and memory loss. EPA and DHA are also necessary for optimal immune function, healthy blood vessels and blood flow, and joint health.
- Siberian Pine Seed Oil: This nutrient rich oil delivers a concentrated source of vitamin E and EFAs as 43% linoleic acid (LA), 30-50% alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and 18% pinolenic acid, and is recognized for its beneficial effects on inflammation and hormone balance. Russian researchers discovered that Siberian pine seed oil is effective in optimizing cholesterol levels, strengthening immune function, and enhancing exercise performance.
- Sea Buckthorn Oil: This unique oil contains highly concentrated levels of EFAs, carotenoids, tocopherols and phytosterols and is clinically approved in Russia where it is prescribed for inflammation, circulatory disorders, liver detoxification, cellular regeneration, and to protect cells from the damaging effects of radiation.
In my opinion, there’s no question that these natural oils are a far better option for protecting your health than the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for treating conditions that are caused, at least in part, by a deficiency of protective omega-3 fatty acids.