Typically, the answer is a pretty strong no.  The research on the benefits of healthy fats are all over the board, and this particular study is no exception.  Ever since fats were demonized in the early 90s as a result of the USDA’s food guide pyramid (remember–the one with “fats and oils-use sparingly” at the top while refined carbs were proudly displayed across the bottom?) nutritional experts were warning about the detrimental effects from the lowered intake of omega 3 fatty acids.  They predicted increased rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  And sure enough, we have seen increased risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity (among other chronic diseases).

The most common of the omega 3s are ALA, DHA and EPA.  Each have health benefits of their own.  ALA is principally derived from plant sources such as flax seed, nuts and seeds (pumpkin is high in ALA).  The “fish oils” are DHA and EPA.  Their ultimate source is DHA in algae.  The vegetarian fish eat the algae, leading to higher levels of DHA in the fish.  Salmon is a great example.  These fish are then in turn eaten by large fish like halibut.  The vegetarian fish like salmon, tilapia and trout are the better sources for the omega 3 fatty acids because the mercury content is lower.  But NEVER eat farm raised–farm raised are fed corn (an omega 6 fatty acid), are high in pesticides and are dyed with a dye to give the “natural” color (wild caught salmon’s pink color is from the carotenoids in their diet).

From a supplement standpoint, it is rare that patients taking fish oils are taking decent dosages.  This particular study, which shows strong benefit in those with chronic heart failure, found most benefit from 4 GRAMS per day.  Not four capsules, but 4 grams.  In many cases, the capsules will contain anywhere from 300 mg to 740 mg, depending on strength.  Do the math–this could mean up to 13 capsules per day if it is the cheaper, less strength, supplements.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.