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New study suggests omega-3 status in U.S. adults below recommended level for heart health


January 5, 2016
By Laura Aiken

U.S. – A study published in Nutrients indicates evidence of suboptimal LCn-3 concentrations across all age groups and highlights the need to increase dietary intake, reports nutritional company DSM, who co-authored the report.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004, this cross sectional study was designed to analyze plasma LCn-3 PUFA status from dietary biomarkers in a nationally representative population of American adults. Of the 1,386 subjects, 80.6 per cent had LCn-3 concentrations below dietary guidelines for heart health and nearly all (95.7 per cent) did not achieve levels associated with cardio-protection. This was particularly evident among Hispanic participants of all ages.

Clinical and observational studies demonstrate that LCn-3 has a positive role to play in heart health, reports DSM in a news release about the study. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, is a particularly rich source and both the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and the American Heart Association recommend two servings of seafood per week. However, less than 10 per cent of the US population is believed to achieve this target, states Washington’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in a 2015 report.

“Large population studies designed to evaluate consumption against these guidelines have traditionally relied on self-completed diaries, recall or questionnaires – all of which are open to error. So by analyzing circulation concentrations recorded as part of NHANES, our research provides a much more accurate characterization of LCn-3 PUFA status among American men and women,” said Dr. Michael McBurney, vice president of science, communications and advocacy at DSM in a news release.

Blood was drawn from adults aged 20 and above after a fast of eight hours or more. Plasma samples were stored at -70˚C and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry used to measure 24 plasma fatty acids. The concentration of LCn-3 PUFAs was determined by the standardized methodology outlined in previously published papers for consistency and comparison. Results were reported for the total sample population and stratified by three age groups corresponding to approximate life stages (young adult, middle age and older age) as well as ethnicity (self-identified).

“The overall finding that suboptimal LCn-3 concentrations are prevalent across all demographic groups in the sample population suggests the need to elucidate clinical implications, including for cardiovascular disease,” said contributing author Dr. Saurabh Mehta, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, NY, in a news release.