January 10, 2005
For the first time, there is agreement about chronic lack of fish oil increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. An official American report sets a recommended intake for all adults.
It looks like there is now decisive agreement among experts that there is a connection between coronary heart disease and a chronic lack of the fatty acids in fish oil. This is the conclusion of a report published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports which was prepared at the request of the federal health authorities of the USA.
According to the report, the indications for a connection between a lack of fatty acids and death caused by coronary heart disease have become stronger year by year. It is the two N-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are significant. According to the report, DHA and EPA have “clear heart-protective effects.”
It also states that both national American and international experts now recommend larger intakes of N-3 fatty acids. The recommended daily intake is 450 mg. a day (EPA + DHA), but for persons with recognized coronary heart disease, the recommendation is 1000 mg. a day. This equals 1.5 g. of ordinary fish oil for healthy persons and 3 g. in case of heart disease, respectively; this is half the contents of a concentrated fish oil capsule.
The report underlines that according to both cellular- and animal tests, the N-3 fatty acids are capable of preventing irregular heartbeat and that this has now also been confirmed in tests on humans; this fact is also mentioned elsewhere on this site. In particular, the fatty acids can counteract the extremely common and often uncomfortable atrial fibrillation. All in all, the risk of death as a result of coronary heart disease is reduced by 25% when taking sufficient amounts of fish oil, as mentioned.
The strength of this evidence is now so comprehensive that the report encourages measuring people’s blood content of fatty acids just as measuring the blood pressure, checking the cholesterol, etc. is being done at present to estimate the risk of coronary heart disease. Likewise, it is now appreciated that it must become a national priority to see to it that everyone gets a sufficient intake of fish oil.
By: Vitality Council
Harris WS. Are omega-3 fatty acids the most important nutritional modulators of coronary heart disease risk? Curr atheroscler Rep. 2004;6:447-52.