Are n-3 Fatty Acids Still Cardioprotective?

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Mar;16(2):141-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32835bf380.

Abstract

Purpose of review: Several recent randomized trials and subsequent meta-analyses have questioned the value of n-3 fatty acid supplementation in cardiovascular disease risk reduction.

Recent findings: This report focuses on four clinical trials published between 2010 and 2012 that have failed to show benefits of n-3 fatty acids, and on one meta-analysis from 2012 that used a controversial statistical approach in reaching a conclusion of no effect.

Summary: The question of the extent to which n-3 fatty acid supplementation reduces risk for cardiovascular disease remains open. Future studies must be properly powered, use doses of n-3 fatty acids significantly higher than those provided in background diets, focus on patient populations with low n-3 fatty acid tissue levels, treat for longer periods of time, and consider the effects of these agents in the great majority of patients who are not on guideline-directed therapeutic regimens. The strong evidence-base from prospective cohort studies and the ever-deepening understanding of the cellular effects of long-chain n-3 fatty acids together support the need for these nutrients in reducing cardiovascular risk. Short-term findings from randomized controlled trials need to be interpreted in the light of all the evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Folic Acid