Science Update

New review demonstrates fish oil supplementation’s impact on heart rate

Fish oil supplementation is essential for cardiovascular health. Health care providers recommend fish oils to improve LDL particle size and lower triglycerides, as well as for their anti-inflammatory properties and overall health benefits, since these fats are essential for the normal function of all of our cells.

According to a recent review published three weeks ago in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers demonstrated the effect of essential fatty acids on the reduction of heart rate.

There are limited natural agents that can reduce heart rate. Previous research has shown slight reductions in heart rate with essential fatty acid supplementation; however, there has been more and more research looking at the individual effects of EPA and DHA on heart rate specifically.

In this review, a total of 51 randomized controlled trials with 3000 individuals were included. When compared to placebo, omega-3 fatty supplementation minimally reduced heart rate. However, when DHA and EPA were separately consumed, a modest reduction in heart rate was seen in studies that supplemented with DHA and not with EPA.

This current review demonstrates the effect of heart rate reduction by essential fatty acids, and when this is the primary objective, there is a stronger effect with higher levels of DHA.

Proper essential fatty acid supplementation depends on what needs to be addressed. It would make sense to have higher levels of EPA for anti-inflammatory properties or reducing cholesterol. In these patients it is essential to look at their fatty acid profiles and optimize their ratios on an individual basis.

Additional Supplementation

There are a variety of other nutrients that are also beneficial for patients with cardiovascular disease. These include energy nutrients such as ribose, CoQ10, and l-carnitine.

Ribose is a key nutrient for quickly restoring cardiac energy stores. It is needed to synthesize adenine nucleotides, certain vitamins, and other important cellular compounds.

CoQ10 plays a central role in the production of ATP and is required for muscle contraction and other cellular processes.

Carnitine supports the heart via the delivery of fat to the heart muscle, which is its main fuel source.

In addition, magnesium and potassium should be considered to support all cardiovascular conditions. These nutrients may be depleted in individuals with cardiovascular disease, often through the use of diuretic medications.


By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Hidayat K, Yang J, et al. Effect of omeg-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on heart rate: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec 28. doi: 10.1038/s41430-017-0052-3.