203107 Plenty of fish in the sea, but are they safe enough to eat? The benefits of omega-3 supplementation

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soultana Haftoglou, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Omega-3 fatty-acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty-acids (LC-PUFAs), including EPA and DHA. LC-PUFAs comprise about 20 percent of the brain's dry weight and are critical for healthy brain development and function. EPA and DHA regulate cell division and growth and a deficiency of omega-3 fatty-acids may result in neurologic abnormalities and growth retardation. Furthermore, epidemiologic and clinical trials have shown that omega-3s can reduce cardiovascular events such as sudden death and strokes. In 2002, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease,” on the effects of omega-3 fatty-acids on heart function, including anti-arrhythmic effects, and present recommendations include at least two servings of fish per week, preferably fish and shellfish low in mercury, such as salmon and shrimp. The majority of Americans are deficient in EPA and DHA because they do not consume enough fish or fish-oil supplements.

There have been controversies over the benefits of omega-3 fatty-acids, and the frequency and source from which they should be derived. This literature review brings together current knowledge on the benefits and risks of fish consumption and potential additional benefits of fish-oil supplementation by examining: 1) farm-raised versus wild fish consumption, 2) source and quality of fish-oil supplements, 3) omega-3 fortification of food items such as eggs, and 4) omega-3 supplementation recommendations by alternative and conventional medicine practitioners, mainly among special populations such as the elderly, those suffering from heart disease, pregnant women, and children.

Future research directions and recommendations will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA. 2) Explain differences in health benefits and risks between consumption of farm-raised and wild fish. 3) Discuss the importance of the source and quality of fish-oil supplements. 4) Describe the increased benefits that fish-oil supplementation can provide for special populations such as those suffering from heart disease, pregnant women, and children.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have performed extensive research on fish consumption and fish-oil supplementation and have also worked with alternative practitioners who have conducted research on the subject matter.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.