Fish oil supplements - you probably couldn't find three words less likely to stir the imagination, yet Britain has fallen for them hook, line and sinker. We spend an extraordinary £60million a year on fish oil capsules and syrups - around 20 per cent of the total spent on all supplements. So keen are we on the stuff, that manufacturers now add fish oils to all kinds of food - even bread and eggs - confident this will help them sell.
Why? Because of the flood of research suggesting fish oils are the ultimate health elixir, good for the brain, bones and heart, and protective against cancer, eye problems, even back pain.
Just last week, a team of doctors reporting in the Journal Of The America College Of Cardiology suggested that everyone should take omega-3 for their heart. In a review of previous research, they found that patients with heart problems who took fish oils had a 30 per cent lower risk of dying early.
But the researchers said it also protected healthy people.
'We now have compelling evidence from very large studies, some dating back 20 and 30 years, that demonstrates the protective benefits of omega-3 fish oil in multiple aspects of preventative cardiology,' said Dr Carl Lavie, of the Ochsner Cardiology Clinic in
New Orleans.'And it's a very safe and relatively inexpensive therapy.'
But other experts are not convinced. Here, we look at what fish oils can - and can't - do, and whether supplements are worth the money.
WHAT ARE OMEGA OILS?
They are a type of polyunsaturated fat, the healthiest fat you can eat. There are three types of fat in our diet - saturated (which comes mainly from animal sources and includes cheese, butter and red meat), mono-unsaturated (such as olive oil) and polyunsaturated (found in oily fish, nuts and many vegetable oils).Source - Daily Mail