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Omega-3 research continues to prove health benefits

Omega-3s may reduce ALS 

In ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the brain gradually loses the ability to send nerve impulses to move the muscles. Because the healthy brain requires fatty acids such as omega-3s, doctors wanted to compare omega-3 levels and chances of ALS. In the study, researchers followed 1,002,082 participants for an average of 15 years, measuring omega-3s in the diet. Those who got the most omega-3s—up to 1.85 grams per day for men and up to 1.43 grams per day for women—were 33 percent less likely to develop ALS compared to those who got the least omega-3s.

 

Omega-3s boost “exercise economy”

In this exercise study, 20 men took 3,600 mg of EPA-rich fish oil per day, or a placebo. After eight weeks there was no change in the placebo group, but in the omega-3 group EPA levels increased 148 percent and DHA levels 13 percent. During a cycling test, doctors found the men with higher red blood cell levels of EPA required less oxygen compared to the same test at the beginning of the study. Doctors call this inverse effect of EPA levels on oxygen demand “exercise economy.” The EPA group also had a psychological benefit—feeling they needed to use less energy to complete the cycling test.

 

Omega-3s may lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension

Earlier reviews of omega-3 studies limited the number of studies that were analyzed, and do not include studies from the last two years. In this new review of 70 trials, researchers included the latest studies available. Overall, compared to placebo, those who consumed the omega-3s EPA and DHA saw an average decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 1.52 and 0.99 mmHg, respectively. Those who had high blood pressure but who were not taking blood pressure medication saw the greatest benefit, with systolic and diastolic declines of 4.51 and 3.05 mmHg, respectively. And those with normal blood pressure also saw benefits, with 1.25 and 0.62 mmHg respective declines in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Even small reductions in blood pressure can lower chances for heart problems and significantly extend healthy life, doctors said.

 

Omega-3s and gum health

Two of the most common oral problems are inflamed gums, known as gingivitis, and infected gums, or periodontitis, which causes bone loss and may signal heart problems. Because omega-3s protect against heart disease, doctors wanted to test for a link to periodontitis. In the study, 60 otherwise healthy volunteers with moderate to severe chronic periodontitis took 300 mg of omega-3s per day, or a placebo. Both groups had dental scaling and root planing treatments. After 12 weeks, compared to placebo, the omega-3 group had better gingivitis scores, less gum bleeding, and pocket depths between the teeth had shrunk by half.

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