Dynamic Infographic Helps You Understand Fish Oil

A guide to health supplements, in bubble-chart form

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Over at Information is Beautiful, they've been running a dynamic infographic since last February--a chart that shows which medical supplements are most effective for which ailments. Green tea is great for cholesterol. Anti-oxidants do OK on male infertility. Cinnamon gets mixed results on type 2 diabetes, and lavender does basically nothing as a sleep aid.

The chart is based on the results of lab tests: "large, human, randomized placebo-controlled trials... wherever possible," according to creators David McCandless and Andy Perkins. "No animal trials. No cell studies." Researchers consulted over 1500 studies to compile the original chart. Now, it's been updated: as of today, the chart reflects new studies, new supplements, and a good chunk of crowdsourcing. "We've revised the data from top to bottom," the creators write. "That included processing over 300 emails from visitors who offered evidence, fresh studies and often angry criticism of our ratings."

One big point of contention on this chart? Fish oil, often trumpeted for its omega-3 fatty acid content. The research on fish oil is mixed, to say the least: Information is Beautiful finds that it's shown good results for heart disease, "promising" results for cancer symptoms, "conflicting" results for depression and mental illness, "slight" results for child intelligence, and no results for Crohn's disease, asthma, diabetes, or dementia.

Check out the infographic here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.