Nutritional study: How well are omega-3 fatty acid capsules suitable for a healthy diet?

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Dietary supplements: How useful is the intake of omega-3 fatty acid capsules?
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and vital in small quantities.

They cannot be produced by the body itself. Some people, therefore, resort to omega-3 fatty acid capsules. But is the intake of dietary supplements really useful?

Essential substances for human nutrition

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential substances for human nutrition. So they are vital and can not be produced by the body itself. The substances improve the flow properties of the blood, inhibit blood clotting, lower blood pressure, anti-inflammatory and affect the triglyceride metabolism positive. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) therefore recommends taking in 0.5 percent of the daily calories through omega-3 fatty acids. This corresponds to an adult about the amount that is contained in a tablespoon of rapeseed oil. Some people also resort to omega-3 fatty acid capsules. Whether taking the supplements but really makes sense, explain consumer advocates.

Positive influence on health

Omega-3 fatty acids affect the health positively. According to experts, they strengthen our immune system, work effectively in vascular calcifications and maintain good health into old age.

In addition, studies have shown that they can help with cancer screening and Alzheimer’s prevention.

However, they do not protect against heart disease, as has been shown in a scientific study.

Omega-3 fatty acids need to be absorbed through the diet

Omega-3 fatty acids can not be produced by the body and therefore have to be absorbed through the diet.

Good omega-3 suppliers include walnuts, green leafy vegetables (such as corn salad ), some vegetable oils (such as canola, walnut, and linseed oil) and chia seeds.

But most of all fish provides omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, high-fat marine fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna or salmon is recommended.

Basically, healthy people in a full and balanced diet enough Omega-3 fatty acids.

As the Consumer Center explains on their website, if you do not eat fish, such as a vegan diet, you will not get much eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

According to the experts, these can then be supplied via fortified foods (eg fortified oil or margarine) or dietary supplements (eg from fish oil or marine microalgae).

But are such funds generally recommended?

Not suitable for the treatment of diseases

Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil or linseed oil capsules, are often advertised to maintain normal blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and normal blood pressure.

In addition, they should contribute to normal brain function, vision and heart function. These health claims are scientifically proven and allowed by law, explains the Consumer Center.

However, the preparations must contain a prescribed minimum amount of these fatty acids. However, the permitted health-related statements are often reinforced or exaggerated.

Thus, for example, “contributing to a normal cardiac function in a promotional manner” has protective properties for a healthy heart. ”

Especially on the Internet, omega-3 fatty acid products are repeatedly advertised with unauthorized statements such as “to protect against heart attack and stroke “, “Help with arthritis and joint problems” and “Protection against breast cancer”.

But omega-3 fatty acid-containing supplements are food and not suitable for the treatment of diseases.

No protection against heart attacks and strokes

A large study (meta-analysis) led by the University of Oxford has shown that dietary supplements containing up to two grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day prevent neither heart attack nor stroke. Whether higher-dose products work, is still being explored.

Another study, also from Oxford, examined whether intake of fish oil capsules (with 380 mg docosahexaenoic acid and 460 mg eicosapentaenoic acid) protects diabetics from cardiovascular disease.

In this particular target group, subjects receiving placebo did not show any differences in the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular death or cancer.

Some statements are prohibited by law

For omega-3 fatty acid products for children, infants or the unborn (products for pregnant women), the following statements are scientifically proven, according to the consumer:

Intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [100 mg daily] contributes to the normal development of vision in infants up to the age of 12 months.

Ingestion of DHA [200 mg/day additional] by the mother contributes to the normal development of the brain/eyes in the fetus and in the breastfed infant.

However, these effects are only achieved if a certain amount of these fatty acids is absorbed daily. The preparations must, therefore, carry an appropriate reference.

If in a product in addition to the omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid [from 0.2% of the total energy daily] nor the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid [from 1% of the total energy daily] is included, may also state the following statement on the product be listed:

Alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid are needed for healthy growth and development in children.

Statements that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the calming, calming, concentrating, learning, thinking and mental development of children (one to twelve years, also in the context of ADHD ) are prohibited by law.

In persons affected by a disease such as coronary heart disease (CHD), an additional intake of appropriately dosed drugs with omega-3 fatty acids from a therapeutic point of view (ie on the instructions of the doctor) may be useful.

Side effects and interactions

Side effects and interactions are not excluded when using omega-3 dietary supplements – even if they need not be mentioned.

Products with a manufacturer’s recommended intake of up to five grams of EPA and DHA (in combination) or 1.8 grams of EPA (single) per day are considered safe for adults according to the European Food Safety Authority.

A warning that the amount of five grams per day should not be exceeded is prescribed for dietary supplements and fortified foods at doses of more than two grams per day.

Higher doses can alter the fluidity of the blood, prolong the bleeding time and thus increase the risk of bleeding.

Furthermore, nausea and vomiting may occur.

In people with diabetes, it may be difficult to adjust blood sugar levels and adversely affect the immune system, which can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection, especially in the elderly.

In the case of an existing infectious disease, therefore, an additional omega-3 fatty acid dose should only be given after consultation with the doctor.

Above all, EPA can cause an increased LDL cholesterol level with increased intake. This is particularly problematic for certain disorders of lipid metabolism.

Use and dosage should be discussed with a doctor

Because of the risks mentioned, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends setting maximum levels for omega-3 fatty acid products that unfortunately do not yet exist and to which manufacturers do not feel bound.

According to the BfR, no more than 1.5 g of omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed per day from all sources (including foods such as fish, margarine, nuts).

Special care should be taken when taking medications at the same time. For example, the use of high-dose omega-3 fatty acid products may enhance the effects of anticoagulant drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).

Therefore, the use and dosage of omega-3 fatty acid-containing products should only be done in consultation with a doctor.