I didn’t get around to too many topics this month but thought I’d finish with a prime example of what happens when we think we know something so simple and that turns out to not be so simple…
Know-Vember: Fish Oil
Not too long ago it was considered a no brainer. Since so many of us didn’t get much in the way of omega 3 fats in our diets and we knew how important they were, we had to get those heart healthy omega 3s in our body one way or another.
Enter fish oil. Concentrated omega 3 absorbing right in and thinning your blood, offering nice protection against cardiovascular disease and stroke and a little general anti-inflammatory action on the side. Hundreds of companies started filling bottles with those shiny gold pills and people were swallowing grams of fish oil by the dozens. Business was good and heart attacks were being prevented.
It seemed like such a simple and straightforward solution to many but once again, something smelled a little fishy to me, which prompted this discussion…
Fast forward a few years and this comes out from Harvard Health…
Basically this reviews the latest research and American Heart Association stance that says that it might help a little but doesn’t prevent heart disease, which is why many people take them and what many companies claim they do. There’s a bit more to the article, including some of the still considered “potential benefits” but it’s followed with discussion on how it might not be that simple.
Sounds about right. Not too long after so many people were recommending fish oil supplements (sometimes in big doses), it comes out that the supposed benefits may not quite be what they thought. Has a familiar ring to it.
So does fish oil help?
We still don’t know. It might offer a little help for some people but it’s likely not that impactful and the cons are a little too unpredictable/unknown to elicit a full blown recommendation. Maybe time will allow us to ferret out some of the details but at this moment there’s not a ton of evidence to take it, particularly in big doses. That’s not even taking the whole quality issue into account, which is a big problem in the supplement industry, particularly with fish oil.
We do KNOW Omega 3 fats are important to human function and we should all try to have some decent intakeof them but what we don’t know is if getting them outside the context of whole fish, grass fed meat and plants is any good. We certainly think it might help but as time is showing us, it’s hard to tell if, how and when that might be the case. That being said, I’m still of the opinion that we are all better off trying to limit our intake of inflammatory fats from things like fried vegetable oilsand improve our health overall, mix in some salmon here and there and call it a day.
I know it’s a lot easier to pop a few fish oil pills than to live a healthier lifestyle and eat a few sardines but since we don’t kNOw that much about the real impact and proper use of fish oil I suggest most of us tread lightly, if at all, in the deep, murky waters of fish oil.
Thanks for reading, have a great day!