Fish Oil: A Fish Story?

Americans love fish oil supplements. In fact, we spend 1 billion dollars a year on them, hooked by ads that claim fish oil is good for your heart. Now, there’s new evidence that raises questions about those claims.

Researchers at the University of Georgia sampled data for 70-thousand people from a UK based genetic study. They divided the data into 2 groups: those taking fish oil supplements and those who aren’t. Then, scientists ran 64 million tests, looking at 4 blood lipids that are biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. The results? Fish oil might help certain people. But, for others, it might actually raise levels of fat in the blood.

Turns out, gene type is the key variable. If you have the AG genotype, fish oil seems effective. However, if you are an AA genotype, fish oil has the opposite effect.

Next, researchers plan to find people with specific genes, create custom supplements, and directly test the effects of fish oil on heart disease. Scientists think better understanding of that correlation will lead to “significant improvements in human health and well-being.”

Dietitians say healthy adults should consume between 250 and 500 milligrams a day of Omega 3’s. You can get all you need from just one piece of salmon, tuna, sardines or herring. If you hate fish, you can get positive effects from 1-2 servings a day of walnuts, chia and flax seeds, and soybeans.

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