Health & Wellness

Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Dent Heart Risk

The fatty acids in fish oil do offer protective benefits, but they have to come from your diet and not from supplements

By Wendy Haaf


Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of your diet: the Canada Food Guide and the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommend at least two servings of fish each week, especially the fatty varieties such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, which are good sources of omega-3s. Supplements, however, are a different story.

According to study results reported earlier this year in the journal JAMA Cardiology, an international team of researchers, including three Canadians from McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, analyzed data from 10 randomized clinical trials involving nearly 78,000 participants, who were followed for an average of 4.4 years. The study found no link between taking marine-derived omega-3 supplements and a reduction in the risk for non-fatal or fatal cardiovascular disease or major vascular events in people with a high risk.

And in July, researchers from the Cochrane network of medical databases reported that their analysis of trials that involved more than 100,000 people couldn’t validate any benefit from supplements. At best, they said, you stand a one in 1,000 chance of gaining any heart-protective benefit from taking Omega-3 supplements.

Photo: iStock/sonsam.