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Statement from CRN’s Duffy MacKay, N.D. in the Value of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health

In Jan. 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study, “Associations of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Use With Cardiovascular Disease Risks.” The study received a number of negative media reports citing that Omega-3 fatty acids do little to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In response to the meta-analysis, Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition wrote a commentary that outlines the study results that support the use of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for cardiovascular support.

Omega-3 fatty acids offer a wide array of health benefits, from supporting cognitive function and eye health to lowering high triglycerides and reducing inflammation. The new meta-analysis hinted at potential, though not statistically significant, benefits in a number of heart disease outcomes suggesting omega-3 fatty acids may help in promoting heart health among patients with a history of coronary heart disease.

The meta-analysis did not demonstrate the dramatic results that one would expect from a drug intervention. The meta-analysis did, however, identify the potential for a seven percent lower risk of major vascular events and a ten percent lower risk of coronary heart disease associated with omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Even though these results are not statistically significant, they come close, thereby validating nutritional interventions, such as omega-3 fatty acids, as having subtle, but important, effects.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important nutrients obtained by eating fatty fish or taking dietary supplements.  The recommendation of the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to consume eight or more ounces of seafood per week. Unfortunately, most Americans are not consuming that amount, causing our population to experience nutrient shortfalls. When taking into consideration the high safety profile of omega-3 fatty acid supplements, they are a prudent choice to ensure that consumers obtain adequate levels of this nutrient needed for good health.

Further, cardiovascular disease is a chronic and multifactorial condition, and consumers need to manage their expectations for the role that dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can play in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to heart health, but as one of many healthy habits to maintain a healthy heart. CRN recommends consumers at high risk or those with a history of cardiovascular disease talk with their cardiologist about what supplements are right for them.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.


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