According to a new study we should all toss out our omega-3 supplements. This study found that there was no association between omega-3 supplementation and risk of death from cardiac events nor stroke. I’m not convinced enough to stop taking my supplement yet though.
Dietitians, and other health care professionals, have been encouraging omega-3 supplementation for those who do not consume enough (2-3 servings) fatty fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, mackerel) for a number of years. Previous studies have found that people who consume more of these types of fish have decreased risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
The problem lies in the fact that no supplement can compensate for a poor diet. If you’re consuming red meat and high levels of omega-6 (as most North Americans are) then you’re not likely to benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement. In the studies where consumption of fish was increased there was also a corresponding decrease in consumption of meat.
I’m going to continue to take my omega-3 supplement just because I know that I don’t eat enough fish. However, I also eat very little meat. The other reason that I’m going to continue to take my supplement is that there is a possibility that there may be other benefits to omega-3 supplementation beside cardiovascular health. Although current research is inconclusive, there may be benefits to mental well being.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should take an omega-3 supplement. If you can eat more fish, and less meat, you’d be much better off doing that.