Diet & NutritionHealth

Fish oil supplement OR a multivitamin?

By 4 months ago No Comments

There is a lot of confusing information about vitamins and supplements, which is hardly surprising when they’re such big business – The U.K. nutritional supplement market is expected to reach USD 15 billion growing at a CAGR of 6% by 2023. Source: Business Wire

If you are reasonably fit and healthy, and eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, some dairy products and lean protein, it is simply not worth spending money on multivitamins. You can get the recommended daily amount (RDA) of 80mg of vitamin C from a large orange, for example. The B and C vitamins are water-soluble anyway, so your pricey supplement will mostly end up flushed down the loo. Other vitamins are stored in the body for longer: vitamin A especially can be harmful in excess of the RDA.

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to our health and can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. As they act as anti-inflammatories, they may also help alleviate painful joints. It has been suggested that omega-3s may improve brain function but as yet there is no conclusive evidence of this. While there is no RDA for fish oil, the official advice in the UK, for example, is to eat a portion of oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, each week to get the benefit of omega-3s. Not many of us do that, so a supplement may be worth considering.

Different fish oil supplement brands vary in strength and a low dose won’t make much difference, so look for doses at the higher end of the range. As fish oil supplements can cause indigestion, some brands are processed to alleviate indigestion – so shop around.

I take fish-oil capsules. In my view the data is very convincing for fish oil to reduce cardiovascular risk and that’s why I take it.

Professor Edzard ErnstEmeritus Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, UK.

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