Omega 3 Fish Oil: Debunking the Myths

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Recent health headlines show that Omega 3 Fish Oil may be responsible for Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) for high risk patients. Yes, there are always risks associated with individuals suffering from chronic diseases. Especially advanced chronic disease. But, Omega 3s have been singled out as a cause of that.

 
Years ago, the consensus was that Omega 3s were at worst “useless” and at best useful in the grand scheme of cardiovascular healthBut now, the experts almost all agree that raising Omega 3 levels of almost everyone improves their health on many levels.
 
So where is this recent study getting their information if the research shows Omega 3s are crucial to heart health?  
 
Allow us to present a counterpoint to the massive amount of click bait headlines listing these miraculous fatty acids as potentially increasing AFib.

First, What is AFib?

Atrial Fibrillation is defined by the American Heart association as, “a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications." At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

Standard Treatment Options include: 

  • Reducing Stress
  • Reducing Caffeine
  • Prescription medication or supplements for antithrombosis
  • Medical treatment to return heart to normal rhythm
  • Breath work for reducing rapid heartbeat

What the Study Claims About Omega 3 Fish Oil

The recently published review of some research claims that Omega 3 supplementation is a direct contributor to AFib. Taken from the STRENGTH Trial, which showed a higher rate of AFib in the population that recieved higher dose prescription Omega 3. Prescription Omega 3 is a synthetic form rather than natural. And, it's a newly developed drug at that. (1)
 
What the trial and later publications left out and/or understated is the fact that in the same trial, the Omega 3 treated group actually had less cardiac episodes (785) than the control group (795). So, while there may be some correlation between high dose prescription strength (not naturally occurring and also a new drug) Omega 3 pharmaceuticals, the total incidence of cardiac events still decreased
 
The tactic used to grab attention is the percentage of people treated with the pharmaceutical Omega 3 that had an Afib episode. This number, which is significant, was 67%. Even with that number the altogether risk of any cardiac episode still dropped by 1%. 
 
Further, the trial stopped short because researchers did not believe they could reach a beneficial endpoint. But, this did not stop them from reporting on the “risks” of Omega 3s. Not only that, but the Big Pharma juggernaut Astrazeneca funded the study. That alone should be enough to classify the findings suspicious when you investigate their history.

Other Ingredients 

 
The following is a list of “other ingredients” found in the drug used for the study. EPANOVA capsules contain the following inactive ingredients. 3 mg α-tocopherol (in a carrier of vegetable oil), and porcine Type A gelatin, glycerol, sorbitol, and purified water (components of the capsule shell). Coating and ink components to contain ethyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate copolymer dispersion, talc, titanium dioxide, iron oxide red, polysorbate 80, and carboxymethylcellulose sodium (coating components), pharmaceutical glaze, titanium dioxide, n-butyl alcohol, propylene glycol and isopropanol (ink components). (3)

What Does Other Research Say About Omega 3 Fish Oil?

Not mentioned anywhere in mainstream articles was a very large review covering 4 meta-analyses and 39 peer reviewed articles that came out four years ago showing tremendous benefit to health by supplementing Omega 3. (2)   
 
Omega 3 was found to be helpful for many cardiovascular events from Afib to cardiovascular disease as a whole. Time and time again, Omega 3s, when studied in proper trials, prove to be very beneficial for the majority of individuals. (4)(5)(6)(7)(8)
 
The majority of trials showing the benefits of Omega 3s were done using real fish, high dose EPA, older tenured Omega 3 drugs or non-lab created Omegas. I love to share that fact with people when asked about the difference in a prescription Omega 3 and a naturally derived Omega 3.

An Analogy to Explain Pharmaceuticals

Imagine a small town with three 4-way stops. You are driving through town to get to the market on the opposite end. If you are a natural supplement, more often than not you will stop at each 4-way and await your turn to go. It will take a few minutes to get to the market, let’s say 15.  Now, if you’re a prescription drug things may operate in a different manner. In general, prescriptions force change on a certain tissue, receptor, and/or cell instead of nourishing and supporting the body. Visualize the prescription drug driving to the market. But it takes no consideration of the stop signs and blows through them, making it to the market in record time. But, left in its wake, is often multi-car pile ups and damage wrought from the careless nature of the journey. This is what we call a “collateral side effect.” The body has no choice with synthetic substances but to obey and react rather than allow natural processes to occur as nature intended. This is an example of why we must not conflate things that seem so similar, such as a prescription formulation of a natural substance and the naturally occurring substance itself. As stated above, this is generally speaking. Some of the drugs tested in the past containing Omega 3 fish oil have shown great help in cardiovascular health. The STRENGTH Trial introduced a new drug that may very well be causing quite a disturbance when speeding through our little town.   
 
Henry David Thoreau knew this long ago, “Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. She exists for no other end. Do not resist. With the least inclination to be well, we should not be sick.”  Nature contains the wisdom that we trust with our health.

Why Should You Trust Us?

The history of Nutrition World speaks for itself about trust. Edward Jones started the business in 1979. And it has now grown into one of most respected wellness nutrition centers in this part of the country. Nutrition World has 26 employees. The Wellness Center offers 17 practitioners including two physicians, physical therapist, acupuncturist, labs, midwifery, chiropractic and many others available for the betterment of health.  
 
Nutrition World’s knowledgeable staff has a history of interpreting dozens of confusing negative health headlines over the past decadesOur purpose is to bring clarity to the practical applications of nutrition to our health and decision making on supplementation and foodsThe sad truth is estimates show that at least 50% of published studies on health have an underlying agenda that does not include truthWe delve into the process of how every study is performed and interpreted before posting our opinionSome may say that Nutrition World has an agenda itself because of offering nutritional supplements. But, anyone who knows Edward Jones realizes he lives his business life based on truth before everything else. Nutrition World is your trusted partner on your journey to health!
Research shows the benefits of Omega 3s, that's why we've included it in our Core 4 bundle.

 

Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

As the wise old adage says, one study showing negative implications for a product, even a flawed study, should not be a reason to discount the thousands of studies that show the benefits of Omega 3s for cardiovascular health. It’s times like these that cause us to dig deeper to find the truth. 
 
We always encourage our customers to be their own health advocate and find partners to help them navigate the complicated world of health. When studies like this come up, you can count on us to do our homework and help educate you. If you have more questions about Omega 3s, we’d love to talk to you. Just give us a call or stop by the store.

 

Citations
 
2.) https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/4766263#free-full-text - Review of Omega 3 benefits. Contents of Epanova. The Omega 3 product used.
 
 
4.) https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/1201400 - European Fish meal observational study for AF prevention.  
 
5.) https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/3302663 - Blood work on adults showing higher plasma levels of Omega 3s correlated with lower incidents of AF.
 
6.) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00228-008-0464-z -Another European study linking higher Omega 3 plasma levels to lower AF incidence.
 
7.) https://academic.oup.com/ehjcvp/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ehjcvp/pvab008/6255232
 
8.) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30415628/

 

Disclaimer. The information on this website and the topics discussed have not been evaluated by the FDA. Or, any one of the medical profession. And it is not aimed to replace any advice you may receive from your medical practitioner. Nutrition World assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any purchaser or reader of any of these materials. Nutrition World is not a doctor, nor does it claim to be. Please consult your physician before beginning any health regimen. If you are being treated for any medical illness, check with your medical professional before starting any protocol