A new report from the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) claims nearly all dietary supplements, including fish oil, are a waste of money and offer consumers little value. The Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), Salt Lake City, UT, said the report contained a three-page review of fish oil supplements that concluded there was no compelling evidence on the use of fish oil for either children or adults, even though it noted that EPA and DHA were important nutrients. GOED considers many of the conclusions related to fish oils to be inaccurate and misleading, particularly those related to cardiovascular disease. The authors relied on the conclusions of a 2002 Cochrane review, which found there was no significant evidence of a reduction in cardiovascular events or mortality with EPA and DHA intake from any source. However, the evidence considered in that review is now more than 10 years old and the available body of scientific literature has since doubled. Notably, the main conclusion of the Cochrane review indicated there was not enough evidence to suggest people should stop consuming rich sources of EPA and DHA.
In addition, the NHS report incorrectly emphasized that only people suffering from heart attacks should obtain EPA and DHA from 2-4 servings of fish per week, when in fact this is the guidance provided by multiple scientific groups for a healthy population, GOED noted. The report also concluded that evidence is still developing in other areas like cognitive function and dementia. It highlighted the inconsistency of studies in child development, and that all of the major studies had concluded more studies were needed to determine the effect of these supplements. However, the authors extended this to say: “School children do not need to take fish oil supplements.”