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Less is more with omega-3

1st June 2010

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain, do not work in large doses, according to a new Norwegian study.

fishandsoybeans

Some experts say that two fish meals a week provide an adequate dose of omega-3 for a person's health.

In the current study, the researchers found that eating large numbers of omega-3 rich fish or taking more fish oil supplements did not actually affect a person's risk of heart disease, if they already ate a certain amount of omega-3 per week.

Mari Manger, the lead author of the study and a PhD candidate at University of Bergen in Norway, said that most cardiac patients who were well-treated and ate at least a certain amount of fish per week would not benefit from taking omega-3 supplements.

The finding does not contradict what many nutritionists already believed about omega-3 fatty acids, but opens up the possibility that there may be an optimum dose.

Alice Lichtenstein, a nutritional scientist at Tufts University in the US, said that the new study did not refute current dietary recommendations for people such as Americans who rarely consumed fish oil at all, but indicated that there was probably a threshold of benefit for omega-3 oils.

For the purposes of the study, researchers closely followed some 2,400 Norwegians.

All of the study subjects were being treated for heart disease, and the vast majority of them were men.

Additionally, all of the study subjects were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs during the study.

Over a period of five years, the study authors kept track of their subjects' medical histories, looking out for patients who died, had heart attacks or had other heart problems.

The researchers found that low daily levels of omega-3 had an effect upon the health of the heart.

Anything more than a low, daily omega-3 intake did not benefit people significantly, although high levels of omega-3 fish oil did not harm people.

Earlier this year, a joint Swiss, Austrian, and Australian study showed that eating small doses of omega-3 fish oils every day can reduce people's risk of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

In that study, 41 people whose levels of psychosis risk were classified as 'ultra high' were given daily fish oil capsules.

After three months on fish oil capsules, only 5% of the ultra-high risk patients had developed psychosis, while 27.5% of the people who took a placebo instead developed mental disorders.

 

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Comments

Jason

Tuesday 15th June 2010 @ 21:30

I think this study has to be looked at from the standpoint that the omega-6/Omega-3 ratio was not taken into consideration. This might account for the low dosage working well in Norway where omega-3 intake is already much higher than it is in the US where more omega-3 may be needed to balance the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.


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Article Information

Title: Less is more with omega-3
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15027
Date Added: 1st Jun 2010

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