Harvard Men's Health Watch

Omega-3 supplements may improve heart health

In the journals

Research continues to explore the possible benefits of omega-3 fish oil supplements, especially for heart health, and a recent review of existing data suggests they may protect against heart attack and coronary artery disease.

Researchers from Harvardís T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Womenís Hospital examined 13 trials, involving almost 128,000 people, to look for any association between omega-3 supplements and the risk of heart attacks, strokes, coronary artery disease, and death from cardiovascular disease. Their results were published online Sept. 30, 2019, by the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers found that compared with people who took a placebo, those who took daily omega-3 supplements had an 8% lower risk for heart attacks and death from coronary artery disease. (However, omega-3s did not lower the risk of stroke.) While the dose of omega-3s used in most of the trials was about 840 milligrams, the authors note that higher doses appeared to offer the most significant benefits.

Experts still recommend that people get their omega-3s from fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel. (A 3-ounce serving of each offers between 0.5 grams and 1.2 grams of omega-3s.) But these findings show that supplements might be a viable alternative, especially for people who have trouble getting enough omega-3s from their daily diet. You should speak with your doctor about whether omega-3 supplements are right for you.

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