"The most pressing issue for the 21st Century is nutrition, with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders all linked to diet, and omega-3 will play a major role" (Dr. Dyerberg, Omega-3 pioneer). According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), "in the last few years, experts have looked at omega-3s and asthma, cancer, the aging brain, dementia, neurological diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, lupus, osteoporosis, eye health, mental health, and more". Since the landmark paper by Dr. Dyerberg in 1971, there have been more than 14,000 published papers (on omega-3) and close to 8,000 human studies.
It is important for consumers to differentiate the various types of omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). According to Consumer watchdog (Consumer Lab), "EPA and DHA are the two principal fatty acids found in fish. They belong to a family of essential nutrients known as omega-3 fatty acids. DHA can also be obtained from other marine sources, such as algae (algal oil). EPA and DHA are polyunsaturated fats ("good" fats, as opposed to saturated fats which are thought to increase the risk of heart disease). The body can manufacture both EPA and DHA from another essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) -- found in flaxseed oil, canola oil, soy oil and walnut oil -- but only to a limited extent".
The most compelling evidence for the cardiovascular benefit provided by omega-3 fatty acids comes from three large controlled trials of 32,000 participants randomized to receive omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing DHA and EPA or to act as controls, according to a meta-analysis published in the March 2008 Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2008; 83(3): 324-332). These trials showed reductions in cardiovascular events of 19- 45%. These findings suggest that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, whether from dietary sources or fish oil supplements, should be increased, especially in those with or at risk for coronary artery disease. According to the findings, while two meals of oily fish per week can provide 400-500 mg/d of DHA and EPA, secondary prevention patients and those with hypertriglyceridemia must use fish oil supplements if they are to reach 1 g/d and 3-4 g/d of DHA and EPA, respectively.
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