Bringing omega-3 fatty acids into the mainstream

Why do you make an extra effort to get generous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet? Cancer prevention? Maintenance of cognitive health? Heart protection?

“All of the above,” is probably your answer to that question. But today, we’ll look at heart protection. That’s what scientists affiliated with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) did when they reviewed recent trials that tested the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA on heart health.

Their analysis showed that even modest consumption of EPA and DHA clearly reduces cardiac death risk.

The IOM team noted that this new evidence supports the establishment of DRI (dietary reference intake) of 250-500 mg of EPA/DHA daily for the primary prevention of cardiac death.

The IOM is the keeper of nutrition recommendations known as DRI – not to be confused with RDA (recommended dietary allowance), although it often is. IOM scientists actually incorporate RDA and other considerations such as adequate intake and tolerable upper intake levels to create each nutrient’s DRI.

So if the powers-that-be at IOM decide to assign a DRI for EPA/DHA, that will be AOK – moving those important omega-3s closer to the mainstream where they deserve household-name status.

Keep in mind, however, that the DRI recommendations are notoriously low. For instance, the current RDA for vitamin C is 90 mg per day, which, according to HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., is barely enough. In fact, the DRI tolerable upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day – the same amount Dr. Spreen considers a more reasonable RDA.

Talk to your doctor before increasing the dosage of your supplements or adding new supplements to your current regimen.

“Omega-3 Science Review Supports DRI for Heart Benefits” Lorraine Heller, NutraIngredients-USA, 6/9/09,