Yazı Fontunu Büyült Yazı Fontunu Küçült Yazı Fontunu Sıfırla
kasa fişi

Hooked on fish-oil pills? You’re wasting your money, says a nutrition expert

Britain has fallen out of love with vitamin supplements — just 35 per cent of us regularly take them, down from 41 per cent in 2008.

Yet fish oil sales seem to be holding their ground.

But we’re wrong to place so much faith in them, says TOM SANDERS, professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College, London.

Fish-oil supplements are now so popular that as many as one in five people take them regularly, according to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

You can see why, with claims that the pills can prevent a multitude of disorders, from Alzheimer’s to Zellweger syndrome, a rare hereditary disorder.

However, the idea that a single dietary component taken in such small doses should have such widespread effects is, in my opinion, laughable.

Rather than a passport to good health, fish-oil pills are more like snake oil.

I’ve been researching the health benefits of fish and fish-oil supplements, which contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, for more than 30 years.

What I have found is that, although fish-oil supplements have a role to play for some people, they have been over-hyped and over-sold.


Although they won’t actually harm you in the vast majority of cases (though if you eat too many you’ll get fat), there is little evidence of any health benefit.

It is true that omega-3 fatty acids are needed to support the growth and development of the infant brain. However, they are provided naturally in breast milk.

The level in breast milk is influenced by the amount in the mother’s diet.

This doesn’t, though, mean pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding need to take supplements.

From our research, we found that body fat contains small but significant amounts of long chain fatty acids like those found in fish-oil.

Women who put on the normal weight gain during pregnancy can utilise this fat when they breastfeed and ‘download’ the long chain fatty acids.

Fish-oil pills: There is little evidence of any health benefit

Fish-oil pills: There is little evidence of any health benefit

The important thing is for mothers to eat a balanced diet.

Infants who are not breast-fed should have a formula which contains added omega-3.

As for giving omega-3 supplements to older children, this will not boost their intelligence.

Numerous trials have shown this with just a few exceptions — and, personally, I am sceptical about the results of those minority studies.

Many adults who take fish-oil supplements do so because they’ve read that it eases aches and pains.

While there is an element of truth in this, you need to take a lot to get any benefit.

For example, consuming 3g or more of fish-oil omega fatty acids every day moderately reduces pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (it won’t help osteoarthritis, which is not an auto-immune disease).

That’s about 15 times as much as you will find in a typical fish-oil capsule.

You can have up to 5 g of omega-3 fatty acids every day, so taking those pills won’t harm you.

But fish oil does contain calories and do you really want to work your way through 15 capsules every day for just a modest benefit?

Others take fish-oil supplements to keep their hearts healthy.

Current dietary guidelines recommend eating two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily, because it has been observed in many studies that people who do this are less likely to die from a heart attack.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence supports eating fish, but does not recommend fish-oil supplements.

Why? One reason is because fish-oil pills do not lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and in some people actually raise it.

A number of trials have been carried out to see if fish-oil supplements reduce the risk of a second heart attack among those who have already had one. The results are inconclusive.

Similarly, some studies showed a reduced risk of dying, but others showed no effect or an increase.

I would always recommend eating fish twice a week instead and would leave off the pills altogether.

Here’s why: when you eat fish, you are eating a cocktail of nutrients such as zinc, which is involved with wound healing and cell division, and vitamin B12, which is essential for blood cell production, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids.

I would always recommend eating fish twice a week instead and would leave off the pills altogether

I would always recommend eating fish twice a week instead and would leave off the pills altogether

And you don’t just have to be a fish eater to get healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.


They’re also found in nuts and vegetable oils, including rapeseed — in a slightly different form but one which is easily converted inside the body.

From my own research, I think that a low dose of omega-3 fatty acids, either as supplements or in food, might reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythms and so improve the chances of surviving a heart attack.

That would be one normal capsule of fish-oil a day, or a portion of salmon each week.

But the pills don’t seem to have any effect once you’ve already developed the problem.

And we’ve never been able to show that fish-oil supplements lower cholesterol or blood pressure, the main predictors of heart attack risk.

There are some intriguing studies that suggest fish-oil may help to ward off Alzheimer’s, but there needs to be a lot more research done before any conclusions are drawn.

On the plus side, fish-oil supplements are harmless, although too much can make you smell fishy.

Some people do not like fish and like to feel on the safe side by taking supplements, and I can understand that.

Yet, I’ve noticed most of the people who take supplements are the ‘worried well’ and are eating quite healthy diets anyway.

It seems to me that taking daily fish-oil pills is no different from touching wood — hardly a passport to good health.

Certainly, I’m not about to start popping pills for the sake of my health.

Read more:

Yazı için 1 yorum yapılmış:

  1. yeşim dedi ki:

    Doktorculuk oynayanların görmek istemeyeceği bir haber.

Siz de yorumunuzu paylaşın: