Are dietary supplements needed in your daily life?

Dietary supplements are not approved by the FDA, and the basis for their use, treatment purposes, and reputation come only from studies that have been published and what users of the supplement say.

A popular supplement that you’ve likely heard about, and people include in their daily life is Omega-3 (sometimes known as fish oil). According to an article written by Adam Barsouk of Forbes, this supplement lacks evidence that it works. Omega-3s are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as reduce inflammation in the body.

Recently a new drug call Vascepa has hit the market. This drug contains Omega-3s and is proven to reduce the risk of having a heart attack significantly. The difference between this drug and an Omega-3 supplement is that Vascepa contains EPA in a highly purified state, while omega-3 supplements usually contain a mixture of EPA and DHA.

So, why have previous studies found Omega-3s as ineffective, but Vascepa works? Simply because Vascepa prevents heart attack and stroke does not mean it is a universal fit for everyone. The study conducted testing the drug only included people with a history of heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. The participants did show a reduced risk of a heart attack and stroke of about 25 percent.

This finding left doctors everywhere baffled. Previous studies on Omega-3s had shown it does not affect reducing the risk of heart attack, cancer, or strokes in the general population. Omega-3 is better than its similar friend, Omega-6. Both of these are processed in the body and turned in to lipids, better known as fats, which, in excess, can cause inflammation. The difference between Omega-3 and Omega-6 is that Omega-3 is converted into lipid much slower than Omega-6. Therefore, a person with more Omega-3 in their body than Omega-6, theoretically, would have a lower amount of inflammation. Proving Omega-3 is not anti-inflammatory, it is only “better” for the body than Omega-6.

The human body cannot synthesize Omega-3 on its own. It must come from your diet. Today the average diet of a person contains less Omega-3 and more Omega-6. Omega-6 comes from processed or unhealthy foods. These types of foods can lead to many problems with the body like heart disease and obesity.

Lastly, let’s answer the begging question: should you take an Omega-3 supplement? Ultimately, it is best to live a balanced lifestyle. Having a healthy diet and participating in daily exercise and healthy activities will prevent many diseases and ailments. Let it be noted that if you currently do have a history of heart disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol, you should talk to your doctor first about taking an Omega-3 supplement. For more information on adding supplements to your diet, contact your health care provider. If you are unsure about your visit being covered, contact Medicare Pathways for a review of your current health plan coverage. Call us at 866-466-9118 to learn more.