I’m all about getting those omega-3s, but I’m not quite convinced that fish oil supplements are worth the money for the average healthy person. The fish oil hype comes from the fact that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to offer many health perks, including lowering blood pressure, as well as helping with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some research also indicates that omega-3 intake may help protect against some cancers, but there’s not yet enough evidence to know that for sure.
Our bodies can’t produce omega-3s on their own, so many people assume that consuming supplements is necessary to get a sufficient amount. But you can get plenty through your diet by eating fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, three or four times a week. Heart disease patients, on the other hand, may benefit from supplements; newer research shows that ingesting a high dose of omega-3s from fish oil daily after a heart attack may help the heart heal. The caveat: Doses of 3 grams or more per day may increase risk of bleeding, so check with your doc before taking supplements, particularly if you’re on blood-thinning medication.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.