Supplement warning: Omega-3s shown to blunt heart benefits

Supplements remain a grey area with some hailing their array of health benefits while others remain dubious. A popular daily pill has been found to do more harm than good to your heart health with experts strongly recommending speaking to your doctor before embarking on daily supplementation.

Omega-3s are often recommended by a number of healthcare professionals.

The popular supplement is said to help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

Those Omega-3s can come from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, or supplements that often contain a combination of the acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Now, new research from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute found that higher EPA blood levels alone lowered the risk of major cardiac events and death in patients, while DHA blunted the cardiovascular benefits of EPA.

READ MORE: Crohn’s disease: Two symptoms warning you may have the condition

Researchers found that higher DHA levels at any level of EPA, worsened health outcomes.

“The advice to take Omega-3s for the good of your heart is pervasive, but previous studies have shown that science doesn’t really back this up for every single omega-3,” said researchers and cardiovascular physician assistant at the Intermountain Heart Institute Viet T. Le.

“Our findings show that not all Omega-3s are alike, and that EPA and DHA combined together, as they often are in supplements, may void the benefits that patients and their doctors hope to achieve.”

In the study, over 1,000 patients were examined over a 10-year period.

Researchers identified 987 patients who underwent their first documented coronary angiographic study at Intermountain Healthcare between 1994 and 2012.

From those blood samples, the circulating levels of EPA and DHA in their blood was measured.

Researchers then tracked those patients for 10 years, looking for major cardiac adverse events, which included heart attack, stroke, heart failure requiring hospitalisation or death.

Until further studies are done on specific types and dosages of omega-3s, Dr Michael Goyfman director of clinical cardiology “would not recommend for patients to make a decision to either stop or start omega-3 supplementation without speaking with their physician”.

Many supplements are unfortunately poorly regulated, often have no warnings, and should be better regulated in general.

Experts say while omega-3s are essential for health, the relationship between using these supplements and heart health is complicated.

They also say that supplements in general are poorly regulated. It’s best to speak with your doctor before including omega-3s supplements in your diet.