New research suggests that only patients with very low daily intake of certain omega-3 fatty acids are likely to reduce their risk of heart attacks or death if they take more supplements rich in these fatty acids.
The study supports research which has shown that, after a certain point, omega-3 supplements may not do much for the heart.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed more than 2,400 Norwegians, about 80 percent of them men, being treated for heart disease. All were on cholesterol-lowering drugs.
At the beginning of the study, all patients filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits, including the fish products and supplements such as cod liver oil that they had eaten over the past year. From this, the authors calculated how much of three different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids thought to be associated with heart health the subjects were getting in their diets and supplements.
Researchers then tracked the patients for an average of 5 years for heart-related complications, including heart attacks and death. Except for patients who consumed the lowest levels of omega-3s, there was no relationship between how much a person consumed and whether they suffered a heart attack or other complication.
Only two percent of patients in the study consumed levels of two kinds of omega-3s below the recommended level.
Eating more fish and taking more supplements didn't prevent heart problems, although high levels of omega-3s didn't hurt the patients either.
Researchers suggest there is likely a threshold of the benefits for omega-3s.
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