Fish Oil, Omega-3’s, and Research: Why I Eat Fish AND Take My Omega-3’s

Omega-3 oils (EPA and DHA), found in wild ocean fish and fish oil supplements are among the most researched and recommended nutritional supplements of all time. Let’s be reminded why…

Literally hundreds of studies have concluded that eating fish is good for us and that the essential oils contained in cold water ocean fish produce health benefits and lower many disease risks. The research on omega-3 oils is so compelling, that we consider these oils to be ESSENTIAL for health, as essential as a vitamin, thus the term “essential fatty acids”. They cannot be produced by the human body, but are mandatory in the body for optimum health. Therefore, we MUST consume omega 3 oils from our diet or supplements!

Here are some POSITIVE research findings why we should all consume generous amounts of the Omega-3 Oils (EPA and DHA) from supplements and ocean fish. And, these are exactly the reasons that I eat fish frequently AND take 2 capsules of Omega 3 Essentials EVERY DAY, which guarantees me 1,000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA, an amount I recommend to those in great health who want to stay that way!

7 reasons to consume Omega-3’s as an essential part of your Optimum Health nutrition plan:

Reason #1: I hate cancer! Omega-3’s are associated with lower Cancer Risks:

1. Breast Cancer… risks appear lower for those consuming more omega-3’s.

“Women with a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) had a 14% reduction in risk of breast cancer compared to those with a low intake.” British Medical Journal, July, 2013.

2. Colon Cancer…. risks lower with more omega-3’s.

“Patients who consumed more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids had a reduced risk of distal large bowel cancer (39% reduced risk of cancer).” Science News, Dec 2009.

3. Prostate Cancer… risks for advanced prostate cancer and death seem to drop with more fish and fish oil.

“Omega-3 Fatty Acids REDUCE Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer.”This article, published in Clinical Cancer Research and in a news release March 25, 2009 showed that men consuming the highest amount of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids had a 63% REDUCED risk of aggressive prostate cancer compared to men with the lowest amount.

“There was an association between fish consumption and a significant 63% reduction in prostate cancer-specific mortality (death).” This study showed a 63% reduced risk of death from prostate cancer for those consuming more fish. This study indicates that men have less chance of dying from prostate cancer when consuming more fish and the associated fish oil. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov. 2010.

Note: More research is needed on prostate cancer and fish oil, since some studies are inconsistent. The studies above are compelling, but others show that adequate vitamin D and weight control are also important factors for prostate, colon, and breast cancer risk reduction.

Reason #2: I love my brain! Omega-3’s are critical for Brain Health:

1. Brain Protection: “An analysis of 185 studies suggests that fish oils can stall the negative effects of junk food on the brain.” British Journal of Nutrition, May 2013.

2. Alzheimer’s Risk: “Subjects who ate fish once a week or more had a 60% lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease than those who consumed fish less frequently.” Arch Neurology, July 2003.

3. Dementia Risk: “… > 180 mg/day of DHA is associated with a 50% reduction in dementia risk.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006. (Note: 1 capsule of Omega 3 Essentials contains 250 mg of DHA and 500 mg of EPA.)

4. Brain Preservation: “Reduction in total cerebral brain volume, visual memory, executive function, and abstract thinking (less brain tissue and less brain function) was found among those with the lowest 25% of DHA (fish oil) intake compared to those whose intake was higher.” Neurology, Feb 2012.

5. Brain Function: “…first-time evidence that long chain omega-3’s exert positive effects on brain ‘executive’ functions in healthy older adults.” Cereb Cortex. 2014 Nov;24(11):3059-68.

Reason #3: I hate early deaths, especially from preventable heart disease! Omega-3’s help!

1. Death Risk: “Omega-3 deficiency is the 6th biggest killer of Americans….” Public Library of Science Medicine Journal. Vol 6, April, 2009.

2. Live 2.2 Years Longer? “Overall, those with the highest levels of EPA, DHA, and DPA (fish oils) had a 27% lower risk of total mortality (death) due to all causes.” This study in those over age 65 revealed a 40% lower risk of heart disease death, which is the #1 killer of American men and women. Those with the highest blood levels lived 2.2 years longer than those with the lowest levels. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2013. Remember, living longer is a great measure, since it is the ultimate of health outcomes!

3. Fatal Heart Disease: “EPA-DHA (fish oil) supplementation reduced the risk of fatal coronary heart disease by 10%…” Curr Opin Lipidol. 2014 Feb;25(1):85-90.

4. Artery Health: “Fish consumption is associated with decreased progression of coronary artery disease in postmenopausal women.” American Heart Association annual scientific session, 2004.

5. Sudden Death: “The Italian GISSI study found that 850 mg of EPA and DHA daily resulted in decreased rates of mortality, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and stroke, with particular decreases in the rates of sudden death.” Am Fam Physician 2006;73(2):257-264.

Reason #4: I love all sorts of sights and sounds! Omega-3’s fight hearing and vision loss!

1. Hearing Loss: “Participants who had 2 or more servings of fish per week compared with those having <1 serving had a 42% lower risk of developing age-related hearing loss.”  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.

2. Vision Loss: “Participants with the highest fish oil intake were 30% less likely than peers to develop CGA and AMD (age-related eye diseases causing vision loss).” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009.

Reason #5: I love being fit and strong! Omega-3’s help me build more muscle!

Muscle Building: “Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle building) in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of muscle loss of aging (sarcopenia).” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011, 93:402.

Reason #6: I embrace youthfulness and I fight aging! Omega-3’s support my DNA from aging!

Aging: Excessive shortening of “telomeres” on the ends of our chromosomes is a marker of accelerated aging. Supplementing with omega-3 fish oil was associated with reduced telomere shortening. Although more studies need to be done, Omega-3’s from fish oil MAY slow this sign of aging. Doi:10.1016/j.nut2013.09.013.

Reason #7: I like being happy! Omega-3’s can improve mood!

Depression: “… Geriatric Depression Scores improved in the EPA and DHA groups…” Br J Nutr, 107 (2012), pp. 1682-1693

Choosing whether to eat fish or to supplement with fish oil or other nutrients must be an individual decision. Weigh ALL the evidence and your personal risks, including family history and risks for things like heart disease, dementia, colon cancer, depression, premature aging, vision loss, or hearing loss, and make an informed personal decision.

Never forget that an overall health-promoting diet and lifestyle is crucial for optimum health. Supplements will never completely counteract the negative health effects of “junk food”, smoking, pollution, or eating too much sugar.

I recommend strongly that everyone maintain optimum body content and chemistry through great overall nutrition and then supplement strategically based on your life stage, your health goals and your personal risks. Nurture your body at every opportunity!

For Optimum Health,

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.

P.S. Always use highly purified and concentrated fish oils to obtain your EPA and DHA Omega-3’s to avoid harmful pollutants from the oceans and other unwanted ingredients. I personally take Omega 3 Essentials, with 750 mg of EPA and DHA per capsule, 2 capsules daily.

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M. is a nutrition & weight loss specialist and the Founder & Medical Director of the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, P.A.

Dr. Tague is an Alpha Omega Alpha honors graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane. Dr. Tague is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical practice has focused on optimum health, nutrition, and weight loss since 1996.

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