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  • U.K. Report Argues Fish Oil Offers Little Benefit
  • A new report from the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) has said that nearly all dietary supplements, including fish oil, are a waste of money and offer consumers little value, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), Salt Lake City, UT.The report contained a three-...
  • 2011-06-07
  • A new report from the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) has said that nearly all dietary supplements, including fish oil, are a waste of money and offer consumers little value, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), Salt Lake City, UT.

    The report contained a three-page review of fish oil supplements that concluded there was no compelling evidence on the use of fish oil supplements for either children or adults, even though it noted that EPA and DHA were important nutrients.

    GOED considers many of the conclusions related to fish oils to be inaccurate and misleading, particularly those related to cardiovascular disease. The authors relied on the conclusions of a 2002 Cochrane review, which found there was no significant evidence of a reduction in cardiovascular events or mortality with EPA and DHA intakes from any source. However, the evidence considered in this review is now more than 10 years old and the available body of scientific literature has since doubled. In fact, two recent meta-analyses have specifically found reductions in sudden cardiac death and cardiac mortality. Both meta-analyses reviewed evidence from supplements and fish consumption. Notably, the main conclusion of the Cochrane review indicated there was not enough evidence to suggest people should stop consuming rich sources of EPA and DHA.

    In addition, the report incorrectly emphasizes that only people suffering from heart attacks should try to get EPA and DHA from 2-4 servings of fish per week, when in fact this is the guidance provided by multiple scientific groups for a healthy population.     

    The report also concluded that evidence is still developing in other areas like cognitive function and dementia. It highlighted the inconsistency of studies in child development, and that all of the major studies had concluded that more studies were needed to determine the effect of these supplements. However, the authors extended this to say: "Schoolchildren do not need to take fish oil supplements."

    The analysis on fish oils in the report seems to highlight some of the more high profile issues that have affected the British market in the past, including irresponsible marketing and poorly designed high-profile studies. However, nearly all of these issues are more than five years old and GOED noted that since these events a DRV has been established in Europe and EFSA has given positive opinions to a number of health claims, including specifically noting in a letter to the European Commission that DHA could be recommended in children up to 18 years of age for brain development. On the other hand, it also highlights the need for more research into many of these health areas.

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