Omega-3 Fatty Acids
According to two of the most credible nutrition authorities, the World Health Organization and the European Food Safety Authority, we should get at least a half a percent of our calories from the short-chain omega-3 ALA. That’s easy: My Daily Dozen recommendation for one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds takes care of that. Our body can then take that short-chain omega-3 and elongate it into the long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA found in fish fat.
Why not supplement with omega-3 fish oil or just eat fish, though?
Fish oil pills have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, thanks in part to the American Heart Association’s recommendation that individuals at high risk for heart disease should ask their physicians about omega-3 fish oil supplementation. But what does the science say?
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at all the best randomized clinical trials evaluating the effects of omega-3 fats on life span, cardiac death, sudden death, heart attack, and stroke. These included studies not only on fish oil supplements, but also on the effects of advising people to eat more oily fish. Overall, the researchers found no protective benefit for overall mortality, heart disease mortality, sudden cardiac death, heart attack, or stroke.
After putting all the studies together, researchers concluded there was no longer justification for the use of omega-3s in everyday clinical practice.
Fish oil, even purified (“distilled”) fish oil, has been found to be contaminated with PCBs and other pollutants. The concentration of dioxin-like pollutants in fish oil is so high that when taken as directed, salmon, herring, and tuna oils can cause the average person’s overall daily intake to exceed the tolerable limit of toxicity. This may help explain the studies that found adverse effects of fish consumption on cognitive function in adults and children.
Thankfully, you can get the benefits without the risks by getting long-chain omega-3s from algae instead, which is where the fish primarily get it from to begin with. By getting EPA and DHA directly from the source at the bottom of the food chain, you don’t have to worry about pollutant contamination. In fact, the algae used for supplements are just grown in tanks and never even come in contact with the ocean.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Popular Videos for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Is Fish “Brain Food” for Older Adults?Why has fish consumption been associated with cognitive impairment and loss of executive function?
Anti-Inflammatory Diet for DepressionIf depression can be induced with pro-inflammatory drugs, might an anti-inflammatory diet be effective in...
Omega 3s, Prostate Cancer, and Atrial FibrillationFish and fish oil consumption do not appear to protect against heart disease, arrhythmias, or...
Fish Consumption and SuicideThe mercury content in fish may help explain links found between fish intake and mental...
Fish and DiabetesThe relationship between fish consumption and diabetes risk may be due to toxic pollutants that...
Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil?Advice to eat oily fish, or take fish oil, to lower risk of heart disease,...
Mercury vs. Omega-3s for Brain DevelopmentRisk/benefit analysis of 33 fish species contrasts the brain-boosting effects of DHA with the brain-damaging...
How Long to Detox from Fish Before Pregnancy?How many months does it take to clear 99% of the mercury and other industrial...
Omega 3s and the Eskimo Fish TaleThe concept that heart disease was rare among the Eskimos appears to be a myth.
PCBs in Children’s Fish Oil SupplementsA study of 13 over-the-counter children’s fish oil supplements found that all were contaminated with...
All Videos for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Plant-Based Pregnancy Outcomes and Breast Milk
The composition of breast milk is compared between vegetarian and nonvegetarian women.
Vegetarians and Stroke Risk Factors—Omega 3s?
Does eating fish or taking fish oil supplements reduce stroke risk?
What Are the Best Foods?
A review of reviews on the health effects of animal foods versus plant foods.
Benefits of Flaxseeds for Inflammation
Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory, aging-associated oxylipins can be normalized by eating ground flaxseed.
Dietary Supplements for Autism
Vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fish oil supplements put to the test to improve the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
Do Chia Seeds Help with Belly Fat?
The secret to unlocking the benefits of chia seeds may be grinding them up.
The Best Diet for Fibroids
The same diet that helps regulate hormones in women may also reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting pollutants.
Which Are Better: Chia Seeds or Flaxseeds?
What effect do chia seeds have on weight loss, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation?
Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function?
Learn why I recommend 250mg a day of a pollutant-free source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Should We Take DHA Supplements to Boost Brain Function?
Overt omega-3 deficiency is rare, but do short-term experiments on cognitive function suggest there might be an optimal DHA dose?