Should You Stop Taking Fish Oil?

April 26, 2018

By Anna Varriano

You may have heard, or may soon hear, about a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this month basically stating that fish oil supplements are useless; more specifically, that they don’t reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, or diabetes. The headline caught my attention, because I have seen many clients with cardiovascular and/or blood sugar related issues benefit from taking fish oil and/or krill oil, both excellent sources of inflammation-busting omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s important to keep in mind when you hear or read nutrition or nutritional supplement related research headlines in the news is that sometimes, the headlines ignore some very important details of the research.

In an article entitled: Perpetuating Nutritional Ignorance among Doctors and Recycling Bad Science: Another Nail in the Coffin for JAMA’s and AMA’s Dying Credibility, written by Clinician & Researcher Dr. Alex Vasquez, Dr. Vasquez reveals the data analysis of the fish oil meta-analysis published in JAMA was poorly done, leading to unreliable research, and by association, potentially unethical research. You can also hear his take on things by watching this video.

Dr. Vasquez states that, unlike fish oil, what really has no clinical value is publishing poorly conducted research, like this meta-analysis that concluded that fish oil supplements are pretty much useless. Here are a few of the faults he found related to the study published in JAMA:

  • Very important data was excluded from the meta-analysis.
  • Many of the studies included in the meta-analysis used non-therapeutic doses of fish oil, so there was no chance at showing efficacy. That means that the dose of fish oil used was lower than the dose required to deliver positive, therapeutic results (you can bet that doesn’t happen with prescription drug research). Only 3 of the 10 studies included in the meta-analysis used the recognized therapeutic dose of 1800 mg/day.
  • 9 of the 10 studies included in the meta-analysis used unnatural forms of fish oil, which are more difficult to digest and absorb than natural forms. This is a big issue for me as I have seen time and time again that the quality of a supplement is critical to its therapeutic effects. With supplements, you need to ask yourself: What is the source? How is it processed? How is it packaged? How is it handled from manufacturing to storage to shipping? The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are very easily oxidized/damaged, for instance by heat and light. I would never, ever, buy big clear bottles containing hundreds of clear fish oil capsules – like some of the brands that you see in some retail stores. The fish oil in those capsules could very well already be oxidized/damaged, so they not only won’t protect you from various health issues, they will likely create them!
  • The conclusions are at odds with the data; that means, that if the raw data is analysed without any ‘author bias’ the conclusion actually would have been that fish oil did offer a benefit in most of the studies included in the meta-analysis … but that isn’t what made the headlines. Remember, researchers can skew results by ‘massaging’ the data.
  • There was funding bias. Unfortunately, when it comes to research headlines on natural supplements, you have to follow the money. Apparently, several of the authors were paid/funded by drug companies.


Hmmmm … seems there was something fishy going on with that study!

(sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Remember, quality and proper dosing are important when it comes to supplements. If a doctor told you to take 10 mg of a prescription drug daily, would you expect that drug to work if you decided to take less than the prescribed dose and/or not take it every day?

Despite this latest news headline regarding fish oil, I am going to keep taking it (and/or krill oil) daily. If you are looking for a high quality fish oil that delivers results, I personally take and recommend Biotics Research BioMega-3 Liquid fish oil. At Biotics Research Corporation, all their omega-3 fatty acids are routinely tested for heavy metal contamination, PCBs and other chemical impurities. You can learn more about it in this blog I wrote a few years ago.

You can order a bottle of Biomega-3 Liquid through through Perfect Resonance Natural Health Counselling. The current price (as of April 2018) is $52 + HST. At a dose of 1 teaspoon daily, this product provides about a one-and-a-half month supply.

To order, please email and put ‘FISH OIL’ in the subject line. You will receive a confirmation email with payment instructions when your order is ready for pick up through Perfect Resonance Natural Health Counselling, located in the Marshall Health Clinic at 2605 Carling Avenue, Ottawa ON. Shipping to an address within Canada can also be arranged with pre-payment. Please note that this option will include an additional $5.00 shipping charge.

As always, whenever you start taking a new supplement, it’s important to let your doctor and/or other health care practitioners know, especially if you are on any medications.

Take control of what you can!



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