Older people with a high intake of omega 3 fatty acids have reduced overall mortality by up to 27%, and their risk of dying from heart disease is reduced by as much as 35%, according to new research from the U.S. Older people with the highest levels of omega 3 in the blood, lived on average 2.2 years longer than those with the lowest levels.
The study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington was published April 1st. 2013, but is no Aprils Fool. Previously some research has been conducted which has shown that the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA benefit the cardiovascular system, but other studies have shown a more ambiguous picture.
Researchers used data collected during 16 years from about 2,700 Americans over 65 years who had participated in a study of cardiovascular health and therefore had their health, lifestyle and medical history thoroughly investigated. Also, the researchers could be confident that the participants were healthy at the start of the study. As a new thing, researchers examined various biomarkers in the trial participants' blood, after which they were able to assess the effect of the different types of omega 3 fatty acids separately.
Different omega 3 fatty acids do not work quite the same way. The study showed that particularly the omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease of 40%. By arrhythmias, ie. heart rhythm disorders, the risk is 45% lower. Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) is most strongly associated with a lower risk of stroke, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is strongly associated with a reduced risk of fatal heart attack. Persons with very low levels of omega 3 in the blood achieve the most significant increase by taking 400 mg of fish oil supplements daily. By additional intake, the blood level will rise more slowly.
Ref. Mozaffarian D, et al. Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain w-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults \u2013 A Cohort Study. Ann Int Med 2013. E-pub ahead of print.
Note: Dokosapentaensyre (DPA) is one of the omega-3 fatty acids, we don't hear so much about. It does, however, stand out by also existing in an omega-6 edition.