The many jars and boxes of fish-oil supplements on shelves of Israeli pharmacies and health-food stores show how popular they are, even though they aren’t cheap.
People have been persuaded that these food supplements can prevent heart disease and other ailments – but new study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas maintain that such benefits have not been proven and there is much variety among the various fish-oil supplements sold around the world.
One in five American adults over age 60 frequently take fish-oil supplements for heart health despite multiple randomized clinical trials showing no data for cardiovascular benefit for supplement-range doses. Statements on the supplement labels may influence consumer beliefs about health benefits, the authors wrote.
The results of this study suggested that the majority of fish-oil supplement labels make health claims, usually in the form of structure/function claims that imply a health benefit across a variety of organ systems despite a lack of trial data showing efficacy, wrote internal medicine assistant Prof.
Ann Marie Navar and her team. “Significant heterogeneity exists in the daily dose of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DPA) in available supplements, leading to potential variability in safety and efficacy between supplements.”
They published their findings in the journal JAMA Cardiology under the title “Health Claims and Doses of Fish Oil Supplements in the US.”
The supplements contain doses of EPA and DHA in commonly available formulations. Across 16 leading brands/manufacturers, 255 fish oil supplements were identified. Among these, substantial variability was found in the daily dose of EPA and DHA. The total daily dose of EPA plus DHA was highly variable between supplements, the team wrote.
In this cross-sectional study of fish oil supplements, 73.9% made at least one health claim, usually related to heart health, followed by brain and joint health, and health-claim language required by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was infrequently used. The team concluded that additional regulation of the claims made on fish-oil supplement is required.