Omega 3 EPA information

Omega 3 Fish Oil Pregnancy/Heart

Omega 3 Fish Oil In Pregnancy Reduces Allergies In Infants

Over the last 20-30 years asthma and other allergic diseases in the Western world have increased at a rate that is causing concern.

Dr Janet A Dunstan, from the University of Western Australia, led a research team to discover whether supplementing a mother’s diet with fish oil during pregnancy could modify immune responses in babies. In other words, if pregnant women took fish oil supplements, would this reduce the chances of their baby developing an allergic disease?

In a randomized, controlled trial, 98 pregnant women with a history of allergic disease received a daily fish oil supplement (supplying 3.7g omega-3 fatty acids) or placebo from the 20th week of pregnancy until the birth. The new born babies of the women who took the fish oil supplements had a significantly higher proportion of omega-3 levels in the blood cells and a lower immune response to allergens. Researchers also discovered that these babies were three times less likely to be allergic to eggs at one year of age. They also found that, although there was no difference in the risk of development of dermatitis at one year of age, the infants in the fish oil group had significantly less severe disease.

Dr Dunstan and colleagues concluded that the results of this study “suggest a potential reduction in subsequent infant allergy after maternal PUFA supplementation. More detailed follow-up studies are required.”

Ref: Dunstan JA et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112:1178-84

Omega 3 Fish Oils and the Heart

In an article published in January in the UK’s prestigious British Medical Journal (ref: Din JN et al. BMJ 2004; 328:330-5), the authors from the University of Edinburgh confirmed that the omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oils can protect against coronary heart disease. They also confirmed that optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids is not firmly established nor is their mechanism of action fully understood.
Research has shown that fish-sourced omega-3 fatty acids have several cardiovascular benefits and the article reviewed a body of evidence before reaching their conclusion.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain a healthy blood flow which reduces the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot.
  • A sudden change in the heart’s normal rhythm (arrhythmia) can result in heart attack or sudden death (when death occurs without earlier signs or symptoms). Fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on heartbeat.
  • Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty deposits on artery walls narrow the artery and hinder blood flow. Studies have demonstrated some modest improvements following fish oil supplementation but, more importantly, fish oils seem to make any fatty deposits less likely to rupture.
  • Inflammation has a central role in the development and progression of coronary artery disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have a recognised anti-inflammatory action.
  • Abnormalities in the lining of artery walls are associated with heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids help widen the arteries which in turn improves blood flow.Fish oil’s cholesterol-lowering reputation is overstated. The Edinburgh team found that its effect on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, while positive, was only small.

The Edinburgh researchers conclude that more trials are needed to resolve the uncertainties that remain. They recommend a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of fish oil capsules in patients after heart attack and further trials un individuals with risk factors for coronary heart disease. They also state that clarification is needed on the relative effects of the fish oil derived omega-3 eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); and the merits of oily fish compared with fish oil capsules. They further suggest that research efforts should be focused on understanding the mechanisms by which fish oils confer cardiac benefits which will not only help refine the clinical applications of fish oils but may also identify other therapeutic targets and help guide the development of future treatments for coronary heart disease.

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