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Senior Correspondent

In my previous column, I explained effective uses for improving health with fish oil. Today's column is about ineffective uses of fish oil.

Fish oil is touted so often that it's beginning to sound like a cure-all. It isn't. And you have to be careful taking it. High doses of fish oil can be dangerous. Always check with your doctor before changing your intake of foods or supplements.

You get fish oil directly from fish or by taking supplements made from oily fish. Fish loaded with  beneficial oils known as omega-3 fatty acids include anchovy, bluefish, herring, mackerel, menhaden, mullet, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, trout and tuna. 
Fish oil is recommended for many conditions. How effective is it? 

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence. Some of the effectiveness ratings for fish oil are as follows:


  • High triglycerides, which are associated with heart disease and untreated diabetes.

Likely effective 

  • Heart disease

Possibly effective 

  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Menstrual pain
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Hardening of the arteries 
  • Kidney problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Weight loss
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Age-related  macular degeneration
  • Movement disorder in children
  • Psoriasis
  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Cancer-related weight loss
  • Asthma

Possibly ineffective 

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Gum infection (gingivitis)
  • Liver disease
  • Migraine headaches
  • Muscle soreness 
  • Breast pain
  • Skin rashes 
  • Stomach ulcers

Likely ineffective 

  • Type 2 diabetes. 

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness 

  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Thinking skills
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Pre-diabetes
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

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