Study Casts Doubt on Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements

The news media and blogosphere is abuzz today about a study due to be released in The Journal of the American Medical Association regarding omega-3 fish oil. The study, a meta-analysis, a study of 20 previous studies from 1989 to the present, is reported to cast doubt on the effectiveness of omega-3 supplements on reducing cardiac events.

We can expect the talking heads in the media to be talking about this for quite some time. We’re undoubtedly headed for an avalanche of expert opinions that will cover the entire gamut, from “fish oil is vital and useful” to “it’s a waste of money” and every conceivable opinion in between.

And yet, none of the discussion matters to those of us who are actively involved in optimizing our health.

Why is that? How can I possibly say that the experts’ opinions about the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids do not matter?

Because we are individuals. And individuals who act thoughtfully don’t make lifestyle decisions based upon sound bites. We plan and test and act specifically to ensure that our actions propel us towards our goals.

What exactly does this mean?

It means that instead of listening to sound bites and fretting whether or not we are healthy, we have acted decisively to measure:

  • the health of our coronary arteries, based not upon vague indicators but upon inexpensive and quantitative coronary calcium scanning
  • our lipids, not by using a crude and outdated cholesterol test but by using lipid subfraction analysis that shows us our LDL particle count and LDL small particle count
  • our triglyceride production, not only in a fasting state but through the examination of postprandial triglyceride levels to truly understand how our dietary choices affect us
  • our Omega-3 Index,¬†an economical blood test that measures the quantities and types of fatty acids in our cell membranes
And it means that we have used these measurements to help us define a set of measurable goals, tailored to our specific condition.
By acting in this way, we can watch our lipids and our Omega-3 Index change as we alter our diets and our supplements (including our omega-3 fish oil). If we have coronary artery disease we can measure its progression (or regression). We can know if what we are doing is helping. And if it’s not, we can change. Carefully. Thoughtfully.
Trying to make sense out of the talking heads and the sound bites will never put us on a path towards optimum health. Optimum health requires assessing our own individual condition, defining measurable goals, and acting thoughtfully to achieve those goals.
Don’t die early.

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