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How much Omega-3 Fatty Acids should I be getting per day?
The best research comes from the Inuit Eskimos. They have a lower incidence of coronary disease according to a paper presented by Dr. Neil J. Stone of the American Heart Association.
Omega-3 fatty acids and your bones
Just last week I wrote about bone mineral density and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (Omega-3 fatty acids not just good for your heart, 3/2/07). Recently researchers in Sweden published a study (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:803-7) in which they recruited 73 healthy young men to participate in a long-term study of bone mineral density and blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
How can I get omega-3 fatty acids if I don't like fish?
One reason people don't like fish is due to the poor quality of fish that they have had in the past. Starting with a mildly-flavored fish like sole or tilapia and purchasing it as fresh as possible from a really reputable shop may help you learn to enjoy it.
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In a very interesting study, James O'Keefe and his colleagues studied whether Omega-3 fatty acid supplements would have a direct effect on the heart. (J Am Coll Cardiol 2006:48(8)1600-1606)
They gave either placebo or Omega-3 fatty acids to 18 men who had previously had heart attack and decreased function of the heart. Each group took the supplements for 4 months and then the pills were switched in what is known as a crossover study design. Multiple measurements were taken on all the participants at the end of each 4 month period.
Dr. O'Keefe and his group found that those men taking the Omega-3 fatty acid supplements had a decrease in heart rate at rest and improved recovery of heart rate after one minute of exercise. No significant changes were found between the groups in any of the blood tests that were performed.
Research shows that a higher resting heart rate (especially in men) is linked with heart attack and death. The researchers in this study show a similar decrease in heart rate as with studies using beta-blockers.
We know that eating foods rich in Omega-3 fats is good for you. This is another small research study that points to taking supplements as having similar effects.
First posted: May 3, 2006