Fat is an essential nutrient for the body. While some fats are deemed “bad,” others, such as polyunsaturated fats, actually help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. These polyunsaturated fats — and the omega-3 fatty acids they contain — have been the focus of MS studies with some evidence pointing to benefits for relapsing-remitting MS.
Two placebo-controlled clinical trials studied supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. A large, two-year study followed 312 people with MS. The group taking daily 10 grams of fish oil (which contains omega-3 fatty acids) had less disability progression and fewer relapses than those taking the “dummy pill.” The difference was not “statistically significant,” but there was a trend favoring the fish oil group.
Reasonable doses of fish oil supplements are generally safe as long as there are no medical issues restricting its use (see cautions above). While there is a scientific rationale for taking omega-3 fatty acids and some hints of effectiveness, omega-3 fatty acids should never be used instead of the conventional MS medications or treatments. If one is considering taking omega-3 fatty acids, this decision should be discussed with a health professional.