A sea of science tells us that the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as tuna, have numerous health benefits. Omega-3s have been shown to:
For most healthy people, eating at least two meals of fish a week is a delicious way to make sure that you get your weekly dose of omega-3s. And, making a meal of fish – unlike taking a fish oil supplement that contains only omega-3 fatty acids – ensures that your body benefits from the other important nutrients found in fish too!
For an easy and tasty option, choose canned or pouched tuna, which is high in protein and omega-3s without being high in saturated fat or cholesterol. It is also one of the few foods that’s naturally rich in both vitamin D and selenium.
In short, no. Taking fish oil supplements provides you only with omega-3s – not with any of the other good-for-you nutrients found in fish. Plus, when you eat fish as a meal, you are not eating a higher-fat protein. Our government’s public health experts agree that you should choose a variety of whole foods, including fish, to obtain all of the vitamins and minerals you need every day for good health.
Some groups of people may not get all the omega-3 fatty acids they need from their regular diet. The recommended daily dose of omegea-3s for people with heart disease or those who need to lower their triglycerides is higher than for the average healthy person. These are examples of groups that may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement under the guidance of their doctor.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that taking supplements of up to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from fish per day is generally safe, you should consult your doctor or registered dietitian before taking any supplements.
Unlike the nutrients found in whole foods (which naturally occur in smaller and commonly safe amounts), the nutrients in supplements may be extremely concentrated. This means it can be easier to take more than the recommended amount of a nutrient when you supplement.
Taking too much of a nutrient sometimes leads to poor health or other complications. Always talk to your doctor or registered dietitian before you take supplements – especially if you have any questions about how much of a supplement to take; if you have any medical problems; or are taking other supplements or medications.