The idea that fish oil and omega-3s are good for your heart has been nutrition orthodoxy for decades. A few dissonant voices have argued that this particular emperor has no clothes. But they have largely been drowned out by the crowd. The American Heart Association recommends a fish oil supplement for those who don’t eat the recommended two 0r more servings of fish per week. And that’s basically everyone.

Fish oil supplements are now the third most popular nutritional supplement. There have been concerns about possible contaminants in commercial fish oil supplements, as well as the negative effects of over-fishing in order to produce enough fish oil to meet the demand. But the presumed benefits have largely overshadowed these concerns. But just how firm is the evidence to support their use?

What’s the Evidence on Fish Oil?

Epidemiological studies have found that people who eat more fish and/or take in more omega-3s have lower rates of death from cardiovascular and other diseases. Randomized trials have established that fish oil supplements reduce inflammation and lower triglycerides. But as recently as 2010, authors of a scholarly article on “Fish oil for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease” conceded that “The role of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing mortality, sudden death, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, and heart failure has not yet been established.”

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