Concept: Eicosapentaenoic acid
Over the last century, intakes of omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids in Western diets have dramatically increased, while omega-3 (ω-3) intakes have fallen. Resulting ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios have risen to nutritionally undesirable levels, generally 10 to 15, compared to a possible optimal ratio near 2.3. We report results of the first large-scale, nationwide study of fatty acids in U.S. organic and conventional milk. Averaged over 12 months, organic milk contained 25% less ω-6 fatty acids and 62% more ω-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher ω-6/ω-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk (5.77 vs. 2.28). All individual ω-3 fatty acid concentrations were higher in organic milk-α-linolenic acid (by 60%), eicosapentaenoic acid (32%), and docosapentaenoic acid (19%)-as was the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (18%). We report mostly moderate regional and seasonal variability in milk fatty acid profiles. Hypothetical diets of adult women were modeled to assess milk fatty-acid-driven differences in overall dietary ω-6/ω-3 ratios. Diets varied according to three choices: high instead of moderate dairy consumption; organic vs. conventional dairy products; and reduced vs. typical consumption of ω-6 fatty acids. The three choices together would decrease the ω-6/ω-3 ratio among adult women by ∼80% of the total decrease needed to reach a target ratio of 2.3, with relative impact “switch to low ω-6 foods” > “switch to organic dairy products” ≈ “increase consumption of conventional dairy products.” Based on recommended servings of dairy products and seafoods, dairy products supply far more α-linolenic acid than seafoods, about one-third as much eicosapentaenoic acid, and slightly more docosapentaenoic acid, but negligible docosahexaenoic acid. We conclude that consumers have viable options to reduce average ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios, thereby reducing or eliminating probable risk factors for a wide range of developmental and chronic health problems.
Omega-3 fatty acids are dietary essentials, and the current low intakes in most modern developed countries are believed to contribute to a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. Evidence from clinical trials indicates that dietary supplementation with long-chain omega-3 may improve child behavior and learning, although most previous trials have involved children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Here we investigated whether such benefits might extend to the general child population.
BACKGROUND: Given that acne is a rare condition in societies with higher consumption of omega-3 (n-3) relative to omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids, supplementation with n-3 may suppress inflammatory cytokine production and thereby reduce acne severity. METHODS: 13 individuals with inflammatory acne were given three grams of fish oil containing 930 mg of EPA to their unchanged diet and existing acne remedies for 12 weeks. Acne was assessed using an overall severity grading scale, total inflammatory lesion counts, and colorimetry. FINDINGS: There was no significant change in acne grading and inflammatory counts at week 12 compared to baseline. However, there was a broad range of response to the intervention on an individual basis. The results showed that acne severity improved in 8 individuals, worsened in 4, and remained unchanged in 1. Interestingly, among the individuals who showed improvement, 7 were classified as having moderate to severe acne at baseline, while 3 of the 4 whose acne deteriorated were classified as having mild acne. CONCLUSION: There is some evidence that fish oil supplementation is associated with an improvement in overall acne severity, especially for individuals with moderate to severe acne. Divergent responses to fish oil in our pilot study indicates that dietary and supplemental lipids are worthy of further investigation in acne.
n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can ameliorate many of obesity-associated disorders. We hypothesised that the latter effect will be more pronounced when DHA/EPA is supplemented as phospholipids rather than as triglycerides.
BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to evaluate the mediating role of maternal early pregnancy plasma levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in the association of interpregnancy interval (IPI) with birth weight and smallness for gestational age (SGA) at birth. METHODS: We analysed a subsample of the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) cohort, comprising 1,659 parous pregnant women recruited between January 2003 and March 2004. We used linear and logistic regression to evaluate the associations between fatty acid status, interpregnancy interval and pregnancy outcome. RESULTS: Low plasma phospholipids concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and high concentrations of arachidonic acid (AA) during early pregnancy were associated with reduced birth weight and/or an increased risk of SGA. Short IPIs (< 6 months, with 18--23 months as a reference) were associated with a mean decrease of 207.6 g (SE: +/- 73.1) in birth weight (p = 0.005) and a twofold increased risk of SGA (OR: 2.05; CI: 0.93--4.51; p = 0.074). Adjustment for maternal fatty acid concentrations did not affect these results to any meaningful extent. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the observed association of maternal early pregnancy LCPUFA status with birth weight and SGA, our study provides no evidence for the existence of an important role of maternal EPA, DHA, DGLA or AA in the association of short interpregnancy intervals with birth weight and SGA.
BACKGROUND: Little evidence is available for the validity of dietary fish and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake derived from interviewer-administered questionnaires and plasma docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) concentration. METHODS: We estimated the correlation of DHA and EPA intake from both questionnaires and biochemical measurements. Ethnic Chinese adults with a mean (+/- SD) age of 59.8 (+/-12.8) years (n = 297) (47% women) who completed a 38-item semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire and provided a plasma sample were enrolled. Plasma fatty acids were analyzed by capillary gas chromatography. RESULTS: The Spearmen rank correlation coefficients between the intake of various types of fish and marine n-3 fatty acids as well as plasma DHA were significant, ranging from 0.20 to 0.33 (P < 0.001). In addition, dietary EPA, C22:5 n-3 and DHA were significantly correlated with the levels of marine n-3 fatty acids and DHA, with the Spearman rank correlation coefficients ranging from 0.26 to 0.35 (P < 0.001). Moreover, compared with those in the lowest fish intake quintile, participants in the highest quintile had a significantly higher DHA level (adjusted mean difference, 0.99 +/- 0.10%, test for trend, P < 0.001). Similar patterns between dietary DHA intake and plasma DHA levels were found. However, the association between dietary fish intake and plasma EPA was not significant (test for trend, P = 0.69). CONCLUSIONS: The dietary intakes of fish and of long chain n-3 fatty acids, as determined by the food frequency questionnaire, were correlated with the percentages of these fatty acids in plasma, and in particular with plasma DHA. Plasma DHA levels were correlated to dietary intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids.
Little is known about the relationship between perceptions of nutrient adequacy and biomarkers of nutrition status. This cross-sectional study of U.S. and German adults (n = 200; 18-80 years) compared dietary practices, knowledge, and beliefs of omega-3 fatty acids (O3-FA) with the omega-3 index (O3-I), an erythrocyte-based biomarker associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. More than half of adults believed that O3-FAs are beneficial for heart and brain health and could correctly identify the food sources of O3-FA. However, the mean O3-I in the U.S. (4.3%) and Germany (5.5%) puts the majority of adults sampled (99%) in intermediate or high CVD-risk categories. More Americans were considered at high CVD-risk (40%) when compared with Germans (10%). In the U.S., but not Germany, women had a significantly higher O3-I than men (4.8% vs. 3.8%, p < 0.001). In the intermediate CVD-risk group, about one-third of adults in both countries (30% in the U.S. and 27% in Germany) believed their diet was adequate in O3-FA. Notably, mean O3-I concentrations did not significantly differ with dietary perceptions of adequacy. More adults in Germany (26%) than in the U.S. (10%) believed that dietary supplements are needed to achieve a balanced diet. In spite of adequate knowledge about food sources and a consistent belief that O3-FA are important for health, very few participants had O3-I concentrations in the range for CVD protection.
To date, most studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in humans have used a mixture of the 2 fatty acids in various forms and proportions.
Background Dry eye disease is a common chronic condition that is characterized by ocular discomfort and visual disturbances that decrease quality of life. Many clinicians recommend the use of supplements of n-3 fatty acids (often called omega-3 fatty acids) to relieve symptoms. Methods In a multicenter, double-blind clinical trial, we randomly assigned patients with moderate-to-severe dry eye disease to receive a daily oral dose of 3000 mg of fish-derived n-3 eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (active supplement group) or an olive oil placebo (placebo group). The primary outcome was the mean change from baseline in the score on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI; scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating greater symptom severity), which was based on the mean of scores obtained at 6 and 12 months. Secondary outcomes included mean changes per eye in the conjunctival staining score (ranging from 0 to 6) and the corneal staining score (ranging from 0 to 15), with higher scores indicating more severe damage to the ocular surface, as well as mean changes in the tear break-up time (seconds between a blink and gaps in the tear film) and the result on Schirmer’s test (length of wetting of paper strips placed on the lower eyelid), with lower values indicating more severe signs. Results A total of 349 patients were assigned to the active supplement group and 186 to the placebo group; the primary analysis included 329 and 170 patients, respectively. The mean change in the OSDI score was not significantly different between the active supplement group and the placebo group (-13.9 points and -12.5 points, respectively; mean difference in change after imputation of missing data, -1.9 points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -5.0 to 1.1; P=0.21). This result was consistent across prespecified subgroups. There were no significant differences between the active supplement group and the placebo group in mean changes from baseline in the conjunctival staining score (mean difference in change, 0.0 points; 95% CI, -0.2 to 0.1), corneal staining score (0.1 point; 95% CI, -0.2 to 0.4), tear break-up time (0.2 seconds; 95% CI, -0.1 to 0.5), and result on Schirmer’s test (0.0 mm; 95% CI, -0.8 to 0.9). At 12 months, the rate of adherence to treatment in the active supplement group was 85.2%, according to the level of n-3 fatty acids in red cells. Rates of adverse events were similar in the two trial groups. Conclusions Among patients with dry eye disease, those who were randomly assigned to receive supplements containing 3000 mg of n-3 fatty acids for 12 months did not have significantly better outcomes than those who were assigned to receive placebo. (Funded by the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health; DREAM ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02128763 .).
In the past three decades, total fat and saturated fat intake as a percentage of total calories has continuously decreased in Western diets, while the intake of omega-6 fatty acid increased and the omega-3 fatty acid decreased, resulting in a large increase in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio from 1:1 during evolution to 20:1 today or even higher. This change in the composition of fatty acids parallels a significant increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Experimental studies have suggested that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids elicit divergent effects on body fat gain through mechanisms of adipogenesis, browning of adipose tissue, lipid homeostasis, brain-gut-adipose tissue axis, and most importantly systemic inflammation. Prospective studies clearly show an increase in the risk of obesity as the level of omega-6 fatty acids and the omega-6/omega-3 ratio increase in red blood cell (RBC) membrane phospholipids, whereas high omega-3 RBC membrane phospholipids decrease the risk of obesity. Recent studies in humans show that in addition to absolute amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid intake, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio plays an important role in increasing the development of obesity via both AA eicosanoid metabolites and hyperactivity of the cannabinoid system, which can be reversed with increased intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio is important for health and in the prevention and management of obesity.