Warning: Combination of Omega-3s in Popular Supplements May Blunt Heart Benefits

Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements

Combining EPA and DHA in supplements may undermine the intended benefits sought by patients and their doctors.

Doctors often recommend Omega-3s to help patients lower their cholesterol and improve heart health. Those Omega-3s can come from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, or supplements that often contain a combination of the acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Now, new research from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City finds that higher EPA blood levels alone lowered the risk of major cardiac events and death in patients, while DHA blunted the cardiovascular benefits of EPA. Higher DHA levels at any level of EPA, worsened health outcomes.

Results of the Intermountain study, which examined nearly 1,000 patients over a 10-year period, will be presented virtually at the 2021 American College of Cardiology’s Scientific Session on Monday, May 17.

“The advice to take Omega-3s for the good of your heart is pervasive, but previous studies have shown that science doesn’t really back this up for every single omega-3,” said Viet T. Le, MPAS, PA, researcher and cardiovascular physician assistant at the Intermountain Heart Institute and principal investigator of the study. “Our findings show that not all Omega-3s are alike, and that EPA and DHA combined together, as they often are in supplements, may void the benefits that patients and their doctors hope to achieve.”

In this study, Intermountain researchers used the INSPIRE registry, an Intermountain Healthcare database started in 1993 that has more than 35,000 blood samples from nearly 25,000 patients.

Through INSPIRE, researchers identified 987 patients who underwent their first documented coronary angiographic study at Intermountain Healthcare between 1994 and 2012. From those blood samples, the circulating levels of EPA and DHA in their blood was measured. Researchers then tracked those patients for 10 years, looking for major cardiac adverse events, which included heart attack, stroke, heart failure requiring hospitalization or death.

They found that patients with the highest levels of EPA had reduced risk of major heart events. When evaluating how EPA and DHA affect one another, they found that higher DHA blunts the benefit of EPA. In particular, they also found that those patients with higher levels of DHA than EPA, were more at risk for heart problems.

Le said that these results raise further concerns about the use of combined EPA/DHA, particularly through supplements.

“Based on these and other findings, we can still tell our patients to eat Omega-3 rich foods, but we should not be recommending them in pill form as supplements or even as combined (EPA + DHA) prescription products,” he said. “Our data adds further strength to the findings of the recent REDUCE-IT (2018) study that EPA-only prescription products reduce heart disease events.”

Meeting: American College of Cardiology 2021

Other members of the research team include: Stacey Knight; Kirk Knowlton; Raymond McCubrey; Jeramie D. Watrous; Mahan Najhawan; Khoi Dao; Tami Bair, Benjamin Horne; J. Brent Muhlestein; Donald Lappe; Madisyn Taylor; John Nelson; John Carlquist; Mohit Jain; and Jeffrey Anderson.

20 Comments on "Warning: Combination of Omega-3s in Popular Supplements May Blunt Heart Benefits"

  1. I just started taking Omega XL about 2 months ago for my leg pain. I an 83 only take vitamins and 1 med for rapid pulse n aspirin. I am allergic to both OTC and some prescribed drugs so I go mostly to Natural e n some Herbal for relief. I’m not subject to side effects or other harmful reactions to drugs and am better off health wise due to the allergy. However not taking the Covid19 vaccine in the near future too questionable n not much research that gives me any reason to trust it.

  2. Hey I am Rahul Arora and I am working with world best health and care nutricitical company and we have world best quality of omega3 of any one wants to buy this product can ask me or call me without any hassitation you will also get original bill of the product so don’t why are you waiting for call me now +916283677272

  3. Wouldn’t trust Mormon science

  4. DHA might blunt the impacts of EPA on cardiovascular health, but most people take Omega-3s for multiple reasons. DHA is critical for brain development and health. Dr Rhonda Patrick has some great data on this; you can look up her up on Youtube, either search her name or FoundMyFitness, and throw DHA in your search terms as well.

  5. My husband has been taking omega 3 for 10+ years. Should he just take Fish oil vitamin now?

  6. This is so vague. Just enjoy fish. And more carnivore products. That’s my scientific research on my own body. I look and feel better when I eat animal fat and me and lay off the processed carbs and hi carb veg.

  7. *animal fat and meat**

  8. You cannot say the Omega 3 supplement with added EPA and DHA reduced the cardiac benefits of the Omega 3. You haven’t delved into the diet of the 900+ patients at all. What were they eating and drinking daily? Coke, Dr Pepper, Pepsi, chips, French fries, processed bread and pasta, etc, etc.? Cardiac issues are a sign of inflammation in the body that taking Omega 3 supplements alone will not help without making other sweeping and permanent changes in diet and nutrition.

  9. Charles Gilmore | May 18, 2021 at 7:31 am | Reply

    These studies are designed to discourage people from taking nutritional supplements and are often funded by the pharmaceutical industry.The presence of DHA in a person’s blood does not necessarily show a cause and effect. Perhaps the people taking DHA are doing it because they already have heart problems. Statistics can be manipulated to “prove ” any desired result. The medical community needs patients to treat. They have little interest in nutrition or healthy natural supplements. I’m nearby eighty years old and have taken numerous supplements for most of my life. I rarely visit a physician and consider myself to be in excellent health.

  10. I have found over the years that various things work or don’t work for various people. This includes what types of food to consume, how/when to exercise, what supplements may be needed, which medications to take, and the list goes on. There is no “one size fits all.” But there are some universal things such as consuming pop and diet pop have no benefit and have many downsides. For me, I go a lot on how I feel and also the results of blood work and other periodic labs. What I find fascinating is how complicated the most simple of things in life have become in the modern world – sleep, food, movement, social interactions. These things basically flow naturally when not tinkered with. Not any more, however! Now we must “learn” what to eat for optimal health, and that we need to “move more,” that “sleep is important for maintaining and restoring health, and that hanging out with family & friends is beneficial. Yikes. It isn’t complicated! That’s the maxim I try to live by best I can. (P.S. About a month ago, I began taking 1 Xymogen Omega MonoPure/day. I mostly see the benefits in my skin so far. But I presume other benefits will appear over time.)

  11. I question why did they not study sugar and fat separately instead of simultaneously.

  12. It’s very simple,
    Lovaza/ Fish Oils -NO

  13. Rachel Blindauer | May 19, 2021 at 5:53 am | Reply

    I have started taking TURNER GLMO about 6 months ago for my joint inflammation and heart health. This supplement contains green-lipped mussel oil which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. I’m not experiencing any side effects or other harmful reactions. I used to take only fish to fulfill my omega-3 requirement, but it was not sufficient. I just replaced my fish oil supplement with a green-lipped mussel oil supplement, and it’s showing surprising results on my heart.

  14. Danuta Bostock | May 19, 2021 at 6:23 am | Reply

    The question we shoul be asking in a first place is: What was the omega-6 level in those patients blood and what was overall omega-6 to omega-3 ratio? And were all of them in balance where the ratio of omega6:omega:3 should be 3:1.

  15. I wish there was more information about the types of omega-3s used. This is why I exclusively use AquaOmega and their 5:1 EPA product. It’s the highest potency available. They also rely on having a good product instead of paying a celebrity.

  16. Well. If Omega oils are coming from farmed raised fish, that is the problem right there. Farmed raised fish are not healthy fish. If the oils are developed in a lab, that’s another problem. I am now incorporating herbs, good sources of: grape seed oils, olive oils, black seed oils. More daily movement to decrease the effects of arthritis. Good health to all of you.

  17. Deborah Mossop | May 27, 2021 at 1:04 pm | Reply

    I agree with you. I’m allergic to multiple meds. Why would I chance taking that shot. No thanks…..

  18. If people would just eat like they’re suppose to, they wouldnt need to supplement. If you eat omega 3’s weekly than you wouldnt have had to worry about having a deficiency in the first place. If you dont like fish, than just add some china seeds to your cereal every morning.

  19. Weakly supported sales mercenary gobledygoup. Work whoever pays to work on a competitor next. Critical Thinking courses are appreciated when junk like this flys off the presses.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.