Big Headlines for Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of numerous research studies the past few years, but recently, newsworthy results have been released week after week.

The list of benefits that have been scientifically linked to omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil is long and varied, including preventing cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol; reducing inflammation, pain, depression, and cancer risk; and improving cognitive function. (See The Best Catch of the Day).

Now, with further research, new benefits, as well as an extension of previous benefits, are being found

DHA brain benefits may extend to middle age
The potential brain-boosting effects of omega-3 in older subjects have been noted in numerous studies, most recently at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, where scientists reported that daily supplements with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA may improve both memory function and heart health in healthy older adults.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that increased intakes of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA may improve mental function in middle age people as well. Increased blood levels of DHA were associated with improved nonverbal reasoning and working memory in people between 35 and 54.

"Taken together, research to date suggests that specifically, DHA may favorably affect cognitive performance and may do so throughout the life course," researchers concluded.

Very high omega-3 intakes linked to big health benefits
Taking omega-3 at levels that exceed what is consumed by the general US population may significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease, suggests a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.The research involved Yup'ik Eskimos, whose diets are very high in fatty acids, and have one of the lowest death rates from cardiovascular disease in the world.

High levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA were associated with lower levels of triglycerides, as well as higher levels of HDL cholesterol and decreased levels of inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Increased levels of CRP are a good predictor for the onset of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 may combat mouth bacteria, boost oral health and reduce risk of dental disease
Increased levels of omega-3 fatty acid DHA may decrease the risk of dental diseases, according to findings published in Nutrition. The average number of dental disease events was 1.5 times higher in people with low DHA levels, compared to those with the highest average levels of DHA.

In addition to being a major risk factor for tooth loss, periodontal disease has also been implicated as a risk factor for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. The researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids are probably what is at work.

In another study, omega-3 fatty acids were found to have strong anti-bacterial activity against a range of oral pathogens, including Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Porphyromonas ginigivalis at relatively low doses.

Omega-3 may protect healthy men from chest pains
Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DPA, and DHA may protect men against acute coronary syndrome (ACS), says a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. ACS is an umbrella term for a range of symptoms including unstable angina and chest pains.

Omega-3 may boost lung function during exercise
A new study suggests that supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may improve lung function of athletes during and after exercise. At the end of 12 weeks, those who took omega-3 supplements showed improvements in air flow of 41 per cent and lung flow of 53 per cent, compared to the other groups.

With all that is being discovered about omega-3 fatty acids, it's no wonder that fish oil has become the most popular dietary supplement. Basic Nutrient Support supplies 2,000 mg of fish oil in each recommended daily dose.