Diet supplements are a daily ritual for many who want to make sure they are getting all of the nutrients they need. Some of the most commonly taken pills have been found to have serious positive effects on overall brain and heart health, especially as we age. However, a new study found that a popular supplement in particular could put your heart at risk. Read on to find out why you might want to change your regime.
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A team of researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City analyzed 987 patients in their database who performed their first angiographic study between 1994 and 2012. The patients’ blood samples allowed scientists to monitor levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are commonly found in omega-3 supplements. According to a communication from the study’s authors, the team then tracked her over a 10-year period to look for major heart health events, including a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure that resulted in hospitalization or death.
The analysis found that patients with the highest EPA levels were less at risk for heart health. However, research also found that DHA could actively mitigate the positive effects of EPA, with patients with higher DHA levels being at greater risk of heart health problems.
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Researchers, who will present the study at the American College of Cardiology’s 2021 scientific session, conclude that the convenience of omega-3 supplements in pill form could have a self-repealing effect on heart health.
“The advice that you take omega-3s for the benefit of your heart is widespread, but previous studies have shown that science does not really back it up for every single omega-3 system.” Viet T. The, Researcher and cardiovascular physician assistant at the Intermountain Heart Institute and lead investigator on the study, said in a statement. “Our results show that not all omega-3s are created equal, and that EPA and DHA together, as often found in dietary supplements, can negate the benefits that patients and their doctors are hoping for.”
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The researchers also pointed out that omega-3 fatty acids can still have important health benefits. While the convenience of taking a daily supplement can be tempting, you are more likely to get the real health benefits of dieting high in omega-3 foods, especially fatty fish like mackerel or salmon.
“Based on these and other findings, we can still tell our patients to eat foods rich in omega-3s, but we shouldn’t recommend them in pill form as dietary supplements or even as combined prescription products (EPA + DHA),” said he. “Our data reinforce the results of the recent REDUCE-IT (2018) study that EPA prescription products reduce cardiac events.”
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This isn’t the first study to link a diet high in omega-3s to health benefits. A study published in 2018 in the BMJ tracked 2,622 adults with an average age of 74 years from 1992 and 2015 to determine whether they developed chronic illnesses or other mental or physical ailments.
After the researchers measured the levels of certain omega-3 oils in participants’ blood samples, the results found that those in the top fifth of high omega-3 levels showed 18 percent fewer signs of unhealthy aging, The New York Times reports . “In our study, we found that adults with higher levels of seafood omega-3s were more likely to lead longer, healthier lives. So eating more fish is a good idea.” Heidi TM Lai, PhD, the study’s lead author and postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University, said.
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