Mayo Clinic summary of Fish Oil and who it benefits

March 20, 2008

A report published in the March, 2008 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings summarizes the latest findings on omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular health, and suggests who will benefit most from their intake.
James O’Keefe, MD, of the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri and colleagues discussed the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, the beneficial fats found in oily fish, fish oil, and algae. “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,” Dr O’Keefe stated. “These trials showed reductions in cardiovascular events up to 45 percent. Overall, these findings show that 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.” “Patients with high triglyceride levels can benefit from treatment with 3 to 4 grams daily,” Dr O’Keefe states. “Research shows that this dosage lowers triglyceride levels by 20 to 50 percent.” Additionally, the supplements can be combined with statin drugs to improve cholesterol levels.

Moms need to consume lots of fish or daily fish oil capsules during pregnancy for the neurological development of their baby

A new report shows that most Americans do not consume enough fish in the typical North American diet and therefore if pregnant fail to provide adequate amounts of fish oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids leaving infants at risk of impaired neurological development. The researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver assigned 135 pregnant women to a placebo or a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement equivalent to two fatty fish meals per week, beginning with their 16th week of gestation until delivery. The women's blood was tested for levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA at the 16th and 36th weeks. DHA plays an important role in brain and eye function and development making DHA essential for the neurological development of unborn children.
Following their birth, the infants were evaluated for neurological maturity using vision tests. The investigators discovered that women who consumed large quantities of meat and low amounts of fish had Omega-3 Fatty Acid deficiencies. Children of these women failed to perform as well on the eye tests as infants born to mothers who were not deficient. The scientists plan to follow the development of these children until they are four years old.
“Omega 3 fatty acids are important for the baby’s developing eyes and brain,” explained an author of the study Dr Innis, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia's department of pediatrics. “During pregnancy and breastfeeding, fat consumed by the mum is transferred to the developing baby and breastfed infant, and this fat is important for the baby’s developing organs. The study is published in the March, 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sudden Coronary Death Rarer in Men Who Regularly Eat Fish Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent sudden cardiac death Dutch researchers report. The occasional slab of salmon or other fatty fish will not do the trick; following a fishy diet for the long run is more effective, according to the researchers from the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The team crunched 40 years of data on 1,373 Dutch men age 40 and older. Men who reported eating fatty fish frequently were 55% less likely than men who ate no fatty fish to die of sudden coronary death. The researchers say the results are due to the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in fish including salmon and mackerel.
The Dutch study doesn't show exactly how much EPA and DHA it takes to prevent sudden coronary death, or what fish the men ate. The big gap in protection was between fish eaters and those who don't eat fish at all.
The findings will be presented this week in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the American Heart Association's 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology.