While the fatty acids in fish oil are essential for brain function, normal growth and development and prevention of inflammation, the benefit of fish oil supplements is widely disputed in scientific studies, according to Harvard Health Publications. Although the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil supplements are thought to promote better health and prevent disease, some scientists believe that actually eating the food containing omega-3 fatty acids yields more health benefits.
According to Harvard Health Publications, omega-3 fish oil contains an essential fatty acid that cannot be made by the human body. This fatty acid occurs naturally in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines and mackerel, as well as walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, soy oil and canola oil. Fish oil supplements provide an alternative to eating these foods. However, research has shown that taking fish oil supplements produces no significant reduction in heart attack, stroke or heart disease deaths in those people with risk factors for these diseases. Experts recommend that fish oil supplements are not necessary when two servings of fatty fish per week or one serving per day of omega-3-containing plant-based foods are consumed. Anyone whose doctor has recommended taking fish oil to treat high triglycerides should continue taking those supplements until they are able to discuss any concerns with their doctor.