Omega-3 for Optimal Health at Every AgeHealth & Nutrition
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are needed for optimal health at every age. Their benefits begin with healthy brain, nerve and eye development in the early years and extend into healthy aging. Research also suggests omega-3 fats may help to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. 1,2
Learn why experts recommend a focus on DHA and EPA omega-3 fats and how to meet your daily needs.
DHA and EPA Omega-3
There are three main types of omega-3 fats in foods that our bodies need for good health:
•DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
•EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
•ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
It is especially important to focus on getting enough of the omega-3 fats: DHA and EPA. That’s because experts believe that Canadians generally don’t get enough DHA and EPA in our daily diet.2 While ALA is considered essential, most people likely get enough, since it is found in many plant foods and oils. 2,3
The importance of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA for a healthy pregnancy and for baby’s healthy growth and development is well-recognized. DHA supports the normal development of the brain, nerves and vision during the early years. In fact, DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain’s grey matter.
It is especially important for women to consume sufficient DHA before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to support baby’s healthy development. 1,4,5 Mothers who eat plenty of DHA-rich foods while pregnant and breastfeeding share the benefits with their growing babies. 6,7 Studies have shown that children who receive more of the omega-3 DHA perform better on mental development tests. 7-10
Evidence indicates higher intakes of DHA and EPA omega-3 fats may offer protection against heart disease. 1,4,11-14 One study showed that daily consumption of a liquid egg product enriched with 125 mg of EPA and 125 mg of DHA per serving lowered blood triglyceride levels by up to 32% over a 3-week period. It also lowered blood pressure without negatively affecting blood cholesterol. 14
Research also suggests higher intakes of EPA and DHA omega-3 may help protect against certain types of cancer. For example, a recent review of 21 studies found that higher consumption of DHA and EPA omega-3 was associated with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer. 15 Researchers estimated the risk of breast cancer was reduced by 5 % overall per 100 mg of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acid daily. More research is needed on this and other types of cancer.
There is also evidence that higher DHA and EPA intakes may help promote optimal cognitive functioning and protect against dementia as people age. 16-18
Getting Enough DHA + EPA Omega-3
Dietitians of Canada suggest healthy adults aim for a daily DHA + EPA omega-3 intake of 500 mg. 4 Health Canada encourages Canadians to get these omega-3 fats by eating 2 servings of fatty fish (such as salmon, herring and mackerel) each week.19 Because many Canadian’s don’t consume enough DHA and EPA, other omega-3 enhanced foods such as eggs can help to fill the gap between intakes and needs. 2
New Naturegg™ Omega Plus™ Liquid Eggs
Canada’s Food Guide recommends that healthy adults eat at least two 75 gram servings of fatty fish each week.19 This equals about 500 mg of DHA + EPA omega-3 daily.Two servings of Naturegg Omega Plus liquid eggs contain:
250 mg DHA omega-3 + 250 mg EPA omega-3
Naturegg Omega Plus liquid eggs are a great choice for creating heart healthy meals. Each 63 g (1/4 cup serving provides 0.500 mg of lutein and 25% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin D, plus they are low in cholesterol and fat.
Learn more about new Naturegg™ Omega Plus™ Liquid Eggs
Learn more about the benefits and food sources of Omega-3 fats.
Nutrition Wise Communications
1.World Health Organization. Interim Summary of Conclusions and Dietary Recommendations on Total Fat & Fatty Acids. From the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids. WHO Geneva, 2010.
2.DHA EPA Omega-3 Institute. DHA/EPA and the Omega-3 Nutrition Gap / Recommended Intakes. Accessed March 24, 2014.
3.Health Canada. Do Canadian adults meet their nutrient requirements through food alone? Cat. H164-112/3-2009E-PDF. Accessed March 24, 2014.
4.Kris-Etherton PM and Innis S. Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Dietary Fatty Acids. JADA, 2007; 107(9):1599-1611.
5.Cunnane SC et al. Breast-fed infants achieve a higher rate of brain and whole body docosahexaenoate accumulation than formula-fed infants not consuming dietary docosahexaenoate. Lipids, 2000; 35(1):105-111.
6.Smuts CM et al. High-DHA eggs: feasibility as a means to enhance circulating DHA in mother and infant. Lipids, 2003; 38(4):407-414.
7.Helland IB et al. Maternal supplementation with very-long chain n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation augments children’s IQ at 4 years of age. Pediatrics, 2003; 111: e39-e44.
8.Birch EE el al. A randomized controlled trial of early dietary supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and mental development in term infants. Dev Med Child Neurol, 2000; 42(3):174-181.
9.Decsi T et al. N-3 fatty acids and pregnancy outcomes. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2005; 8:161-166.
10.Montgomery P et al. Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis from the DOLAB study. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8(9): e-pub.
11.Kris-Etherton PM et al. AHA Scientific Statement - Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 2003; 23:e20-e31.
12.Holub BJ. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2009; 81(2-3):199-204.
13.Chowdhury R et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med, 2014; 160(6):398-406-406.
14.Holub BJ. The effect of an emulsified egg product containing fish oil on selected cardiovascular risk factors. AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 13-15, 2001, Special Supplement, 2001.
15.Zheng JS et al. Intake of fish and marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of breast cancer: meta-analysis of data from 21 independent prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 2013; 346: e-pub ahead of print.
16.Otsuka R et al. Serum docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid and risk of cognitive decline over 10 Years among elderly Japanese. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; e-pub.
17.Titova OE et al. Dietary intake of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids is linked to gray matter volume and cognitive function in elderly. Age, 2012; 35(4):1495-1505.
18.Kesse-Guyot E et al. Thirteen-year prospective study between fish consumption , long-chain N-3 fatty acids intakes and cognitive function. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 2011; 15: 115-120.
19.Health Canada. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide – A resource for educators and communicators. 2007. Accessed March 24, 2014.
The Importance of the Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio by Doug Cook RD, MHSc
You might be wondering what the big deal is? Omega-6 and omega-3 fats carry out essential tasks in the body. Despite the importance of these essential fats, getting too much of either one can interfere with how the other one functions.