For activeand vital yearsHow Omega-3 supplementationcan benefit age-related diseases
Epidemiology shows a rise in age-related diseases like dementia and depression, age related loss of vision,cardiovascular diseases and diseases that involve joints and bones in the aging population of western countries. This demographic trend highlights the need for better prevention. Increased dietary intake of fatty fish or fish oil may play a role ina nutritional prevention strategy. The primary source of omega-3 poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is alpha linolenic acid (ALA) from seeds and seed oils that are derived from plants such as flax, walnuts and canola. Through an inefficient enzymatic process ALA can be elongated in the functionally important longer chain omega-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docodahexaenoic acid. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna mackerel and sardines and fish oil are the richest source of preformedlong chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Since conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is rather low (1), direct supplementation of EPA and DHA from marine sources is favoured. Research indicates that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA may positively influence age related decline and degeneration. Unfortunately, however, the modernwestern diet seems to be counter protective, because of its lack of marine omega-3 fatty acids. This article highlights some routes to show how omega-3 PUFA supplementation might positively influence health and quality of life in the elderly.