What's the Deal with Omega Supplements?
To Omega or not to Omega?
During a 2012 survey conducted by a National Health Interview Survey, Omega 3 supplements are the most ingested supplements by adults and children of the US. We also know this supplement to be fish oil.
The common benefit that people use as a reason to take these every day is that it will lower their cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Sounds like a good reason, right?
I decided to do a little digging and foud that there isn't much evidence out there to support that.
These quotations are dirrectly from an NCCIH article: "A 2018 analysis of 10 major omega-3 supplementation studies (77,917 total participants, all at high risk of heart disease), each of which involved at least 500 participants and a treatment duration of at least a year, found no evidence that omega-3s could reduce the risk of fatal or nonfatal coronary heart disease.
In 2016, the U.S. Government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) did a comprehensive evaluation of 98 studies of omega-3s and heart disease, including both diet and supplementation studies. They did not find evidence that omega-3s can reduce the risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease."
So now what? The article, plus another that I was referencing from the NIH did explain that people suffering from arthritis did experience improvement in their symptoms and morning stiffness. It makes sense because the role of fats and fatty acids is to help lubricate your joints.
But what about the common thought about Omegas being so heart healthy?
It seems that the benefits will come once you eat real fish. Oily fish like salmon, mackarel, sardines, anchovies, herring and tuna have the highest amounts. Even fish like catfish and trout contribute to the needed Omega 3rd, but not as much as the above.
So now what about Omega 6's and Omega 9 fatty acids? Yes, those are important to consume too. Benefits of Omega 6 include the possibility to reduce nerve pain, symptoms of ADHD, arthritis and blood pressure.
Walnuts, which are high in Omega 6, have been show to lower the risk of heart disease, and improved bone health is another benefit of getting the Omega 6's you need. Nuts, seeds and oils provide the most, and supplements, again, may not make much of a difference. Currently there is insufficient evidence for most of the claims above.
Now what about Omega 9? That's really a thing? Yes. Omega 9 fatty acids claim to regulate the good and bad cholesterol in our bodies, reduce inflammation, reduce insulin resistance, increase energy, enhance mood, improve immune system function and improve the memory with those with Parkinson's.
Sounds like a cure-all, right? The sources for Omega 9's include seed oils, avocado (and oil), nuts and seeds.
However, for all of those many benefits above, what are the chances that sufficient research has been conducted to prove such effective benefits of Omega 9, especially since you don't hear about it as much? I would take all claims here with a grain of salt.
There definitely doesn't seem to be a problem or side effects from taking them. And pure vegetable/seed oils, nuts and seeds are very healthy for the diet. I would say that if you eat those foods regularly in your diet, you probably don't need a supplement. If you don't, then a supplement is not a bad thing. I do take an Omega 3-6-9 every day, but not even at the recommended serving size.
So hopefully some of this info clears up and reduces down some of the extra information out there, since it's crazy how misleading and incomplete it can be.
If you aren't sure if Omega supplements are right for you, as always, talk to your doctor, since they would know better what is right for you and your health. Let me know if I can answer any questions!