Dietary Supplements: Fish Oil Benefits Beyond Blood Vessels?

Are there benefits to fish oil supplements beyond the heart? Here’s what we know so far:

Memory loss. DHA doesn’t seem to slow Alzheimer’s disease or the usual cognitive decline that occurs as healthy people age, but few studies have been done.


Depression. The largest trial done so far was an industry-funded one of 432 people with major depression. EPA (1,050 mg a day) plus DHA (150 mg a day) had a modest benefit among those who didn’t also have anxiety disorder, but most studies have been disap¬pointing.

Vision loss. DHA (350 mg a day) plus EPA (650 mg a day) didn’t slow the progression of macular degeneration or prevent cataracts.

Sources: Neurol. 71: 430, 2008; Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 91: 1725, 2010; JAMA 304: 1903, 2010; J. Clin. Psychiatr. 72: 1054, 2011; Mol. Psychiatr. 17: 1272, 2012; JAMA 2013. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4997; JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol .2013.4412.


Other relevant links:

24 Replies to “Dietary Supplements: Fish Oil Benefits Beyond Blood Vessels?”

  1. What about latest study that fish oil supplements increase risk of most dangerous prostate cancer? My cardiologist told me to stop fish oil supplements. Don’t put out misleading outdated reports. You lose credibility, and what else do you have?

  2. I recommend the title of this article be changed to replace “fish oil” with “EPA/DHA” since there are better places to obtain these nutrients than polluted fish, like vegetarian sources.

    1. Unfortunately, sources such as flax seed, walnuts, etc., don’t really contain very high concentrations, nor is their specific “type” as easily convertible within the body.

  3. That study had its flaws. We do know that we need a certain intake of omega 3’s for good health, and that DHA and EPA are needed for healthy brain development. We can produce some of this from linolenic acid in veg sources but not always enough, especially during illness.
    Questions to ask are did these men take megadoses of fish oil vs just enough to meet the RDIs? Did they eat a lot of fish caught near industrial sites, vs from cleaner sources? Did the consume fish or fish oil at all, or was the cancer causing metabolic changes to their lipid profile?
    See this article for more details:

  4. In the Journal of Natural Health and Longevity, Dr. Robert J. Rowen makes some pretty startling statements:
    *Fish oil did nothing to improve heart health in large group of high-risk patients.
    *Fish oil could accelerate aging.
    * The Long chain Omega-3Fatty Acids in Fish oil are not essential fatty acids at all.
    Dr. Rowen promotes PEO (Parent Essential Oils over fish based Omega-3 supplements.
    I mentally saw many “red flags” in this article (Vol. IV-Summer 2913) and would appreciate further information.

  5. You also should be aware that fish oil can also act as a blood thinner and for that reason caution should be use when taking fish oil.

  6. This is scary stuff….my Holistic doc. says to take fish oils,i.e. TUNA OIL, as I do have cardiovascular disease.
    My lipid profile is just a bit over 200 since stopping Crestor a year ago. I eat low glycemic. Am I putting my health at risk or wasting my time by taking fish oils at all?
    And is my husband jeopardizing his health by taking Tuna oil along with me?


    1. Suzanne Skinner, please read Peter McKnight’s comment (and read the link / watch the video) from August 20th or so.

      As of right now, there is no legitimate reason to stop taking fish oil supplements.

  7. Fish oil supplementation is a small piece of a large & complex nutritional puzzle. There is no single magic bullet for years of deficits largely incurred by compromised dietary habits.
    Regular doses of high quality cod liver oil have contributed to keeping my rheumatoid illness in check. Along with other dietary management of systemic inflammation, Prednisone and pain medications are a thing of the past.
    It took a solid year of dosing and researching before slowly realizing that I felt remarkably better. Many lifelong habits had to change.
    The best advise is to vote with your wallet and thoroughly research all of your supplements. Stick with US companies, and make sure your healthcare products are manufactured in the USA, not China. Nutrition wise,don’t settle for heavily sprayed produce items. Roundup rules the world, and little credible research has been done with respect to its impact on humans. Buy locally, in season, and when possible, organic for those items most heavily sprayed or likely to be GMO’s.
    We all want to feel better and extend our productive lives in wellness. Both Military and Medical Industrial Complexes know this. For them, it’s all about money, our money. The best hedge against the booming snake oil sector is good research and wise spending choices. The mental exercise alone will do wonders for dementia-related illness.

  8. My anecdotal evidence- how I feel personally- is that fish oil appears to enhance movement of my joints, to a degree significant to me. Without morning ingestion of approximately 1000 mgs (depending on my budget & what was on sale), I am much more creaky, achy, & constrained. If I never felt the difference, it’s likely I wouldn’t choose to put out the extra money, but even a couple of days minus fish oil makes me remember why I take it, especially if there’s a storm coming.

  9. My cardiologist put me on 5 mg of Crestor for prevention because my father died of a heart attack at 59. Sometimes family history dictates what you should do and sometimes medicine is the right thing to do no matter what the science says. Read the book “Heart 411” by Nissan and Godunov for an eye opening look at what top level Cardiothoracic surgeons go through daily with patients. Scary stuff.

    1. Robin, I guess I would ask what your diet and exercise regimens are like, as well as what your lipid profile looked like before your doctor put you on the Crestor. Because for the vast, vast, vast majority of folks, following a proper diet, getting regular exercise, and taking high quality daily nutritional supplements (my triglycerides dropped 37 points in three months, changing nothing else, after I started taking Vemma) can keep you away from statins and their potential for muscle damage. Doing this has kept me from risking those side effects of prescription drugs.

  10. I eat three large pieces of Herring evryday in place of Fish Oil tablets. I believe I am getting all the omega- 3’s I need and it’s more enjoyable.

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