Among the many nutrition supplements trumpeted for potential health benefits, fish oil supplements have been among the most ballyhooed. But as the research on fish oil rolls in, it’s unclear whether the supplements provide all the touted benefits, or are as harmless as claimed.
Some of the possible benefits of fish oil that appeared in early studies of the supplement seem to have vanished. Along with the difficulty of isolating the effects of a single nutrient, it’s possible that those early studies had small sample sizes, or participants who were truly deficient in the nutrient. Since then, long-term studies have revealed potential harms from taking fish oil unnecessarily.
Fish oil supplements contain several vitamins and two significantomega-3 fatty acids, called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While these nutrients are important, like many vitamins, many people get sufficient amounts from diet. These fatty acids are found in a number of fish, so it is often recommended to get proper doses by eating oily fish twice a week.