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Studies Provide Little Support for Guidelines on Dietary Fats and Supplements — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 18, 2014

Studies Provide Little Support for Guidelines on Dietary Fats and Supplements

By Larry Husten

Two new studies demonstrate the shaky underpinnings of guidelines that encourage the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

The first, a large meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine, examined dietary fatty acid consumption, fatty acid biomarkers, and fatty acid supplements. Among the chief findings:

  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: There were trends for modest benefits associated with dietary intake or supplements, but these did not achieve statistical significance.

  • Saturated fatty acids: There was no discernible effect of total saturated fat as measured by either dietary intake or circulating biomarkers.

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: No effect was found.

  • Trans dietary fats: A harmful effect was confirmed.

In the second study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, 4200 patients with age-related macular degeneration were randomized to omega-3 fatty acids; lutein/zeaxanthin (carotenoids found in the eye); both; or placebo. After roughly 5 years, there was no significant reduction in cardiovascular outcomes in the treatment groups.

Commentators say it's now clear that omega-3 supplements "with daily doses close to 1 g in patients with or without established CVD shows no clear, considerable benefit." They conclude that for now, omega-3s should be prescribed only for patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia, "an extreme minority of the general population."

Adapted from CardioExchange

Reader Comments (1)

CAROL VASSAR Physician, Internal Medicine, private practice

Do Omega-3 supplements also have no benefit for macular degeneration?

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