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A Fish (Oil Supplement) Tale: The Benefits of Omega-3â€™s
Speculation of fish oil benefits has been swimming through the papers - â€śOmega-3 fish oil supplements questionedâ€ť. The results published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed no benefit for cognitive function with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation among cognitive healthy older people. What they did not underlie in the papers is the method of the study.
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most extensively studied nutrients for their potential cardiovascular and cognitive benefits. A large body of evidence from experimental, clinical and epidemiological research has demonstrated the potential benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) rich and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich fish oil for proper body functioning and development.
Method of Study & Observations
DHA is proven essential to pre- and postnatal brain development, whereas EPA seems more influential on behavior and mood. For cognitive development, the focus should be on the DHA amount.
The study that illustrates that Omega-3s are not beneficial had participants receive either 1 g of Omega-3 fatty acids containing 465 mg of EPA and 375 mg of DHA or placebo containing about 1 g of olive oil.
Firstly, the amount of DHA is low compared to supplements you see on the market today. In one teaspoon of Pure Premium Fish Oil you receive 1825 mg of EPA and 925 mg of DHA. Other studies have shown the DHA and EPA combinations have benefited ADHD, autism, dyslexia and aggression. For the affective disorders, meta-analyses confirm benefits in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder. And finally studies on accelerated cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) correlate with lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA, and supplementation has improved cognitive function! These studies show promising methods and compared to the negative study on fish oil, the duration of the trail is longer than 2 years.
Benefits of Fish
Research suggests these benefits from fish or fish oil as part of healthy diet:
Against heart disease (supported by most studies)
- Reduce abnormal blood clotting, help sustain more regular heartbeats, and reduce inflammation of many body tissues, including the arteries of the heart
- Reducing blood triglycerides
- Delay hardening of the arteries
- Relaxation of blood vessels, mildly reducing blood pressure
In infant growth and development (well researched and accepted)
- Normal brain development in infants. DHA concentrates in the brainâ€™s cortex, the conscious thinking part.
- Normal vision development in infants. DHA helps to for the eyeâ€™s retina
1. The New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1203859?query=featured_home#t=articleMethods
2. M.Laidlaw et al.(2003) Effects of supplementation with fish-oil derived n-3 fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acids on circulating plasma lipids and fatty acid profiles among women, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
3. Kidd. PM Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.
4. Harper, Charles et al. (2001). The Fats of LifeThe Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease Arch Intern Med.161(18):2185-2192.