How many times have we heard that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) is good for your heart? We are told that unsaturated fish oil reduces inflammation, decreases triglycerides, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood clotting, reduces irregular heartbeats, and decreases your overall risk of stroke and heart failure. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614
I found an article today that is now warning people away from omega-3 fatty acids when they have a specific type of heart disease. It caught my attention, and I had to know more.
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-people-at-risk-of-heart-disease-may-want-to-avoid-fish-oil. The risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib) increases with fish oil when a person has high triglycerides. Which study do you believe? There have been many studies supporting fish oil for heart health like this – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357022/.
https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/high-triglycerides-what-you-need-to-know. A triglyceride is a fat the body stores in fat cells. When we eat more than our body needs, the excess is converted to fat to be used later. When we need it, hormones release triglycerides to meet your body’s energy demand.
Around one-third of adult Americans have high triglycerides. Less than 150 mg/dL is considered normal for triglycerides. High levels start at 200 mg/dL. Over time, high triglycerides can cause health issues, especially the heart, pancreas, and liver problems. Exercise, weight management, fat choices, and alcohol reduction are good options to lower triglycerides.
The Heart Study
https://academic.oup.com/ehjcvp/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ehjcvp/pvab008/6255232. The European Society of Cardiology analysis of several studies concluded that fish oil supplements are likely to increase the risk of AFib in people with high triglyceride levels. Doctors routinely recommend fish oil for their patients to lower high triglycerides. It is an opinion against current practices.
Five randomized, placebo-controlled studies with more than 50,000 patients were reviewed specifically for the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and heart disease. The daily dose of fish oil was between one and four grams.
Compared to the placebo group, those taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements had a higher risk of AFib. Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm and increases the risk of stroke.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/. We need this nutrient. It is essential for good health. However, our bodies do not make omega-fatty acid. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) make up omega-3 fatty acids.
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000709 recommends 4 grams/day to lower triglycerides.
Do fish oil supplements cause AFib? No one has shown definitive proof. Do the benefits of fish oil supplements outweigh the risks? Probably, but there are varying opinions.
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1812792 references a study done two years ago with prescription omega-3 supplements that decreased heart disease. Only EPA was used in this study.
Is there a problem when the fatty acids are combined? When you eat salmon, for example, you get all three. Is the quality of the supplement a risk? No one stated that. Quality is always an issue when labels have ingredients mislabeled or misinterpreted.
It is certainly unclear as to what course of action to take. Healthy people should continue with their fish oil supplements or foods providing omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids can cause higher levels of inflammation in the body. When in doubt, ask your physician or cardiologist.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com