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Omega-3 fatty acids as protection from cardiovascular diseases confirmed

Published on

31 March 2012

A new literature review from the US shows a significant reduction of cardiovascular mortality linked to omega-3 fatty acid intakes of up to 200 mg.

To evaluate the relationship of eicosopentanoic acid (EPA) and docosexaenoic acid (DHA) intakes with cardiovascular or all-cause mortality, the systematic review and meta-analysis included 14 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) lasting at least four weeks with supplementation levels of EPA and DHA of lower than six grams daily, as well as seven large prospective cohort studies (1). The analysis of the RCTs (based on 48,500 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease or with risk factors for the disease) indicated a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality by 11% for participants taking EPA and DHA supplements, independently of population, study characteristics and supplement doses. The analysis of the prospective cohort studies (including altogether 123,122 participants) suggested a 36% reduction in the risk of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease or sudden cardiac death with mean EPA and DHA intakes of up to 0.20 grams per day; this effect did not change at higher mean intakes.

The researchers concluded that adequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have shown to reduce mortality. The maximal positive effect of EPA and DHA appears to plateau at a mean daily intake of 0.20 grams. The levels of EPA and DHA associated with lowest mortality risk, either cardiovascular or all-cause, are consistent with the current dietary guidance of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2) and 2006 American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations to consume at least two fish meals per week (3).There was no evidence, according to the researchers, that the effect of EPA and DHA on cardiovascular or all-cause mortality differs across populations and study settings.


  1. Trikalinos T. A. et al. Effects of Eicosapentanoic Acid and Docosahexanoic Acid on Mortality Across Diverse Settings: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials and Prospective Cohorts. Tufts Medical Center. Nutritional Research Series. Technical Review 17, Vol. 4. February 2012.
  2. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and HumanServices. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm). 2010.
  3. Lichtenstein A. H. et al. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006; 114:82–96.

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