Today I am fired up at the release of a new study from JAMA, which stated, “Overall, omega-3 PUFA supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke.” I know I will have many doctors and patients ask me about this so I am here to tell you upfront that this is absolutely a myth, there are over 30,000 clinical studies that show and prove essential fatty acids such as fish oil help reduce inflammation, thus preventing heart disease. What is ridiculous is that every TV talk show, newspaper and magazine publishers are taking this meta-analysis study, for face value, to get ratings. Heck Reuters Health stated – The tides are turning for fish oil, at least when it comes to usefulness of supplements in staving off heart attacks and stroke. Notice I said Meta-analysis which is where they took 20 of the 30,000 plus studies and combined the data together to develop an overview of the this topic, this is without errors. Many of the people in the studies used had already had at least a heart attack and were on multiple medications, which make it very difficult to tease out the more subtle benefits of a dietary supplement. I could talk all day about this but I am not going to.

I would like to layout some foundational information for you. First, Supplements are called supplements for a reason; they are to supplement a healthy diet. Supplements are not the diet, however many companies would like to make you believe this because it makes them more money.  Listen up, You can take all the supplements in the world, but if you still have a poor sedentary lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking, and eating junk food, while taking supplements you will still have poor health. There are two fundamental reasons that we become sick and diseased, those reasons are: deficiency and/or toxicity. Fish Oil is not a panacea it is an essential fatty acid. Why is it called essential? Because essential fatty acids like Omega 3’s are essential for life, we don’t make them so we have to get them from an outside source and that is where fish oil comes in. It does not need to be converted to EPA/DHA like other forms of plant-based oils like flax seed oil, because it is EPA/DHA already which is anti-inflammatory. That is indisputable information. Because it is anti-inflammatory and heart disease is in large an inflammatory disease, fish oil can help in the prevention and reversal of such inflammatory diseases. But lets put it into perspective a minimal amount of fish oil daily will not undo 20 years of a poor lifestyle by itself. With that said lets talk about dosage.

The average dose in the meta-analysis study was 1.51 grams per day. Let me ask you a question, if my house was engulfed in flames and I go a throw a glass off water on it, will that glass of water put the fire out? Absolutely not! But does that mean that water does not work to put out fires? Of course not, it means I need a larger amount. The same goes for the fish oil, 1.5 gm per day is barely enough to supplement a healthy diet, not to mention prevent and reverse a disease process such as heart disease and stroke. For Patients who have health issues I use 6 -12 gm per day depending upon the situation. I find it funny that people will blast these poor conclusions for a flawed meta-analysis study all over the media, but never do anything with statistics like, “50% of Americans who have normal cholesterol still have a heart attack” this was according to JAMA in 2003. Or how about the absolute statistic that if 100 people took a statin drug only 3 would have a heart attack.  But take a look at this; those who do not take the drug only 2 will have a heart attack.   So if 100 people take the statin drug only 3 will have a heart attack, but if 100 people don’t take the statin drug only 2 will have a heart attack.  So the true difference between taking the drug and not taking the drug is only one person, this is a “cure” rate of only 3%, yet 40 million people take this drug.  And unfortunately the side effects from a statin drug can have a negative impact on your health.  Heart disease has been the #1 killer among Americans for ~30 years. It is time we start fixing the cause of the disease and not just a symptom.  The same holds true for fish oil, we must focus on healthy lifestyle, activity and good supplements in order to affect our body’s health.  We must always look carefully at the studies and research we have been presented in order to discover the truth.  I hope this clears some of the confusion for you in regards to this study on fish oil and it’s impact on your health. If you want more information on the subject of cholesterol you can purchase my book Sex, Lies, and Cholesterol at all major online book stores or by clicking here.

Until next time,

Take Care and God Bless

Dr. Bentley