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Are Fish Oil Supplements as Good as the Real Thing?


It’s well established in the medical community that people should be getting omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Typically, the best sources for these fatty acids are fresh Fish -  unfortunately though Americans just don’t get enough in their diets. Despite a recommendation of eating eight or more ounces of seafood per week, the average American only gets 3.5 ounces.

Eating a proper amount of fish is important, as it has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as a lower risk of cognitive decline in the future.

Pregnant women in women of childbearing age are also encouraged to eat more seafood as long as it is free of Mercury. Previously, Pregnant women were told to avoid all seafood, but now certain kinds are okay as they can help boost cognitive development in their children. According to researcher Joseph Hibbeln of the national institutes of heath (NIH), omega-3s are important because they promote neuron function and decrease inflammation.

Knowing this, many people choose to take fish oil supplements instead of actually eating fish to get their omega-3s.  However, a recent study from the Journal of the American medical Association states that these supplements may not be as beneficial when it comes to lowering the risk of future cognitive issues, especially in older adults. In the study, researchers gathered around 3500 men and women with an average age of 73. The adults were given either a daily supplement of omega-3s or a placebo (no one knew what they were getting). During this time, and the adults were also subject to cognitive function tests.

Despite the research that shows eating fish can decrease cognitive decline, this study found absolutely no effect on the volunteers over time. Researchers now believe that older adults may not be able to turn back time as far as changing their diet to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Additionally, it maybe possible that taking a fish oil supplements is not as effective as the real thing. Elizabeth Johnson from Tufts University explains that the best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is through food. She adds that if you do not enjoy fish, you could also increase your leafy green intake as it has also been shown to aid in preventing declines. Whole grains will also help as they are rich in Vitamin B and magnesium, both of which can aid the antioxidants in the fish and greens.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Pete

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