Omega-3 fatty acids – An update emphasizing clinical use


*Corresponding author
1. University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine, Madison, USA
2. University of Arizona, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, USA
3. Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle, Washington, USA

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3) are well-known to scientific, clinical, and industry experts, with research examining effects on almost every body system and for numerous health conditions. Some of the interest in n-3 can be traced back to observations that Greenland Inuit, with a diet high in fish oils, have lower serum cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) than might otherwise be expected (1). Since then, evidence is accumulating for positive effects on other disease processes and risk factors. A vote of confidence about the strength of scientific evidence for n-3 occurred in 2004, when the United States Food and Drug Administration announced one of its most stringent labelling allowances, the Qualified Health Claim, permitting n-3 products to state a reduced risk of coronary heart disease with the intake of n-3. Along with the increase in scientific research results and clinical guidelines has been an exploding market for n-3. For example, in the United States, the n-3 market makes up the strongest sector of the functional foods market, and grew from about $100m in 2002 to more than $2 billion in 2006 ...