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Understanding Omega-3 fatty Acids

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Nugevity has been an advocate of omega-3 fatty acids, or “healthy fats” for many years.

Nugevity Omega Max can be described as yet another realization of our ongoing commitment to staying current with emerging science and pharmaceutical technology. Nugevity Men’s and Women’s Master-Multi were among the first complete daily micronutrient products in the market that incorporated Omega-3 fatty acids.

Research and medical literature since then have been very kind to these fats, with new health benefits discovered almost every year, new applications developed, and big pharmaceutical companies jumping on the omega-3 bandwagon.


Overview of Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a category of dietary fats. The most bioactive omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both found primarily in fish and other marine animals. Alpha-linolenic acid is another n-3 PUFA that occurs naturally in certain plants such as flaxseed, but research has failed to attribute many of the same health benefits as EPA and DHA. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, are a completely different set of fats derived mostly from vegetable oils and meats.


For humans, the optimal intake ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has been established at 4:1. That is to say, for every 4 grams of omega-6, a person should consume 1 gram of omega-3. However, the typical North American diet provides only about 0.13 g of EPA + DHA per day, while the very high intake of omega-6 fatty acids – 12 to 15 g – yields an overall n-6:n-3 ratio of about 10:1 to 50:1, making supplementation of additional DHA and EPA amounts a necessity.


Studies of Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for an array of biological properties and benefits, including cardiovascular, immunological, ophthalmic, neurological, and endocrine, to name just a few.

Much of the interest in omega-3s today originated with the pioneering study of Greenland Eskimos by Bang and Dyerberg more than 35 years ago. They found that even though these Eskimos had a diet very high in fat, they also had a very low rate of ischemic heart disease. Their research spawned numerous studies and has resulted in recommendations from major public health organizations for increased intake of fish oil, particularly EPA and DHA, for all US adults at risk for coronary heart disease.

Today we know this to be the case in not only Eskimos, but also in other marine-dependent regions of the world such as Japan and parts of Russia and Canada (Nunavut and certain regions of Quebec). In fact, statistical research reveals that the US has approximately a 600% higher incidence of deaths caused by myocardial infarction and ischemic heart disease than Japan. Yet blood cholesterol levels for the American population are only an average of 6% higher. Scientists agree that the high consumption of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids in the Japanese diet, and the effect it has on other risk factors for heart disease, are responsible for this curious disparity.


Benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids

Data from epidemiologic and randomized clinical trials suggest that EPA and DHA support healthy heart rhythms; help maintain blood triglyceride levels within the normal range; and may play a role in healthy platelet function.

There are several possible mechanisms by which they exert these effects. One theory suggests that as EPA and DHA are incorporated into cellular membranes throughout the body, they displace Omega-6 fatty acids such as arachidonic acid (a pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic – what we refer to as a “bad fat”).


One of the most promising and remarkable areas of research is in eye health. Dr. SanGiovanni and associates, from the US National Institutes of Health’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients with increased dietary intake of DHA and EPA were 20-25% less likely to progress to severe AMD.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Other recently published studies, such as those conducted by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard University, and the Vision Co-operative Research Centre in Australia have found a risk reduction of age-related vision decline in the range of 36 to 75% when participants increased their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Both studies were published in the American Medical Association’s journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

Finally, omega-3 supplementation plays a role in neurological health.

Approximately 60% of the brain’s gray matter is composed of PUFAs, and DHA makes up about half of all the fat in the membranes of brain cells.

Maternal levels of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy determine the levels present in the fetus. DHA in particular is critical in supporting infant growth, including brain development, and newborn DHA levels are correlated with birth weight, birth length, and head circumference, making a solid case for omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy and lactation.

In addition, recent human and animal studies have concluded that supplementation with this omega-3 fatty acid was found to reduce buildup of amyloid protein – a sticky plaque substance – by as much as 70%. Other neurological health studies of omega-3 are being conducted, with positive preliminary results.


Moreover, we have been able to observe first-hand the remarkable benefits of integrating omega-3s in the medical practice. One such instance is the case of the sole survivor from the Sago Mine disaster in 2006. Thanks to integrative physicians like Dr. Julian Bailes, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and former chairman of our Scientific Advisory Board, whose use of omega-3 fatty acids clearly played a key role in saving lives during that crisis.


Formulation of Omega Max

Along with our NASA partners, Dr. Bailes was instrumental in the selection of the fish oil utilized in the manufacture of Omega Max. Thanks in large part to his guidance, Nugevity has been able to bring to you the best omega-3 product available in the market. The project had one goal in mind: that the final outcome meets all the stringent criteria set forth throughout this collaboration.


Larger fish, particularly those near the top of the marine food chain such as tuna and cod, can accumulate dangerously high levels of heavy metals, pesticides, and other persistent organic pollutants in their bodies. The oil utilized in the extraction of EPA and DHA for Omega Max is sourced exclusively from small feeder fish including primarily sardines and anchovies.

These smaller marine animals have a much shorter lifespan, and do not feed on other fish but rather microscopic plankton and algae, hence lowering their potential for accumulating such contaminants through the food chain.


Furthermore, the state-of-the-art molecular distillation process ensures an extremely pure extraction of the fish oil, leaving any undesirable molecules behind.

Notwithstanding all the advanced purification techniques and raw material selection, the finished softgel is still subjected to a battery of assays, quantitative and qualitative analyses designed to confirm the absence of contaminants above the specified allowable limits. In fact, Omega Max is manufactured to comply with Pharmacopeia standards – the same quality, potency and purity standards that pharmaceutical products have to meet. In addition, the extraction process allows for a higher concentration of both EPA and DHA than what is typically found in generic fish oil products.


A common occurrence among omega-3 softgel consumers is the unpleasant reflux of the oil, also known as the “fish burp.” Omega Max capsules undergo an enteric coating process that covers the softgel in an enteric film. This protective layer delays the disintegration of the capsule until it reaches the alkaline environment of the duodenum, bypassing the harsh stomach acids and preventing the occurrence of this oil reflux. We strongly believe that supplementation with this high-quality marine lipid should be a critical part of every daily routine.


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

References:

B.J. Holub. Clinical Nutrition: Omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular care. Canadian Medical Association Journal 166:608-15, 2002


Burdge GC, Wootton SA. Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Br J Nutr 2002; 88:411–420.


Chua B, et al. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-Related Maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124:981-986


Dyerberg J, Bang HO, Stoffersen E, Moncada S, Vane JR. Eicosapentaenoic acid and prevention of thrombosis and atherosclerosis? Lancet 1978; 2:117–119.


Hornstra G. Essential fatty acids in mothers and their neonates. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71(suppl):1262S-1269S.


Iso H, Kobayashi M, et al. JPHC Study Group. Intake of fish and n3 fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease among Japanese: the Japan Public Health Center-Based (JPHC) Study Cohort I. Circulation 2006;113:195-202


Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, Huth P, Moriarty K, Fishell V, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(Suppl 1):179-88.


Kyle DJ, Schaefer E, Patton G, Beiser A. Low serum docosahexaenoic acid is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia. Lipids 1999; 34:S245.


Leaf A, Kang JX, Xiao YF, Billman GE. Clinical prevention of sudden cardiac death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and mechanism of prevention of arrhythmias by n-3 fish oils. Circulation 2003; 107:2646–2652.


Raper NR, Cronin FJ, Exler J. Fatty acid content in the US food supply. J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:304-8.


SanGiovanni JP, et a;. Dietary Lipid Intake and Vision Loss in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2006; ARVO E-Abstract 2193/B772


Stark KD, Park EJ, Maines VA, Holub BJ. Effect of a fish oil concentrate on serum lipids in postmenopausal women receiving and not receiving hormone replacement therapy in a placebo-controlled double-blind trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 72:389-394.

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