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Why use omega-3 dietary supplements?

Sydänystävä Omega-3 and Studies

Dietary supplements, among other things, are continuously marketed with references to scientific studies. While individual studies can be promising, better-grounded health conclusions can only be drawn after there are more studies and a longer research history. A few scattered studies are not enough. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most studied nutrients. Their health benefits have been studied in more than 20,000 studies. Health benefits have been observed in a number of different areas. New information is being gathered all the time. Some of the central health benefits found in scientific studies are briefly introduced here.

Necessary Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The normal function of the human body requires Omega-3 fatty acids. All foods do not, however, contain these fatty acids. ALA (Alpha-Linolenic acid) is a form of Omega-3 and is found, among other things, in walnuts and flaxseed oil. The human body uses ALA to produce the other Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) [suomenkielisessä väärin päin nimet!]. However, only 5–10% ALA is turned into EPA and maybe 2–5% to DHA. [1] Therefore, it is better to get the necessary Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, directly from food. These fatty acids are mainly found in fatty fish such as salmon or dietary supplements.

Omega-3 and Cardiovascular Health

The single strongest health benefit of fish oil products is probably the benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health. The Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart, the beneficial effect being obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg. [2] Sydänystävä Omega-3 is literally a friend of our hearts. Using significantly higher doses of Omega-3 fatty acids daily will yield additional benefits. 2 g of DHA daily contributes to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels. [2] A 3 g daily intake of EPA and DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure [3, 4]. ATTENTION! The tolerable upper intake level of Omega-3 fatty acids is considered to be 5 g daily.

Omega-3 and Eye Health

The retina of the human eye contains high concentrations of the DHA fatty acid. The necessity of DHA for eye health has been recognized in studies conducted on patients who were fed through intravenous therapy and whose diets were completely lacking Omega-3 fatty acids. [5] DHA has biochemical and biophysical properties, which have an effect on the function of light-sensing cells; they regulate the transparency, fluidity, thickness and other properties. [6] Especially DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of DHA.

Omega-3 and Nerve and Brain Health

DHA is clearly linked with the structure of the human brain. DHA is the main fat compound of the brain and the central nervous system, and significant concentrations of DHA are found in the membrane lipids of the gray matter of the brain. In the brain, the role of DHA is related to the communication of the nerve cells. For this reason, especially DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of DHA. [7]

Omega-3 Contributes to the Normal Brain and Eye Development of Infants

Omega-3 fatty acids are directly linked with the brain and visual development of infants. A connection has been found between the maternal intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and the development of the fetus and breastfed infant. Breastmilk contains a lot of DHA, which is concentrated in the brain and eyes of the child during late pregnancy and early infancy. Maternal intake of DHA contributes to the normal development of the brain and the eye of the fetus and breastfed infants. [7] In order to get an optimal amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, a mother should use 250 mg of EPA and DHA daily. [8]

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[1] Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM. Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):640S-646S.

[2] EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1796

[3] Geleijnse JM, Giltay EJ, Grobbee DE, Donders AR, Kok FJ. Blood pressure response to fish oil supplementation: metaregression analysis of randomized trials. J Hypertens. 2002 Aug;20(8):1493-9.

[4] Sveinsdottir K, Martinsdottir E, Ramel A. Blood pressure-lowering effects of long chain n-3 fatty acids from meals enriched with liquid fish oil and from microencapsulated powder. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Dec;67(8):1017-23.

[5] EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1734

[6] Carlson SE, Neuringer M and Reisbick S, 1997. Assessment of infant visual and cognitive function in relation to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Editions Roche, Basel, Switzerland.

[7] Calder PC. Docosahexaenoic Acid. Ann Nutr Metab. 2016;69 Suppl 1:7-21.

[8] The EFSA Journal (2009) 1004, 1-8

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