The evidence for the cardioprotective nature of omega-3 fatty acids is abundant, and currently available data indicate that patients with known coronary heart disease should consume at least 1 g daily of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from either oily fish or fish-oil supplements, and that individuals without disease should consume at least 250–500 mg daily. However, this area of research poses two questions. Firstly, which is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids—fish or fish-oil supplements?

Secondly, are recommendations for omega-3 supplementation warranted in view of the rapid depletion of world fish stocks? The argument that eating fish is better than taking fish-oil supplements stems from the fact that several important nutrients, such as vitamin D, selenium, and antioxidants, are missing from the supplements.

However, three major prevention trials have clearly indicated that omega-3 fatty acid capsules confer cardiovascular benefits and, therefore, that both are cardioprotective. Sustainable sources of omega-3 fatty acids will need to be identified if long-term cardiovascular risk reduction is to be achieved at the population level.

Advertisements