Natural Products Insider

JUL-AUG 2018

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46 INSIDER July/August 2018 Omega-3s are widely known for their health benefi ts throughout the human lifespan. The main forms of omega-3s are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is an essential fatty acid (EFA) that cannot be produced by the human body, while EPA and DHA are longer-chain omega-3s that the body can synthesize from ALA, although the rate of conversion can be low. Products formulated with omega-3s can help consumers achieve the recommended levels to support brain, heart and eye health, as well as aiding other factors important to a healthy lifestyle. Each omega-3 has particular health benefi ts. DHA tackles brain and eye health more so than EPA and ALA, and is crucial throughout the lifespan, starting from infancy. DHA is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the brain, whereas EPA and ALA are present in small quantities. 1 In infants, DHA supports optimal brain and eye health development. 2 Since a baby's brain grows the fastest during the fi rst six months of infancy, breastfeeding moms need to have adequate levels of DHA to supply enough fats for the baby's developing eyes, brain and immune system. 2 DHA's role in healthy development is underlined by recommendations directing pregnant and nursing women to achieve intake levels of 200 to 300 mg/d of DHA, according to Kerri Marshall, director, global lipid science and advocacy at DSM Nutritional Products, and by a claim approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) supporting DHA supplementation during pregnancy for infant development. DHA during pregnancy (600 mg of algal DHA) also reduces the risk of preterm birth before 34 weeks of pregnancy. 2 DHA is also important in the later years of life. Dementia affects around 50 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and DHA has been shown to help reduce the risk of dementia. In a cohort from the Framingham Heart Study, high plasma DHA concentrations in 32 subjects who had a mean fi sh intake of three servings a week were associated with a 47 percent reduction in the risk of developing all-cause dementia. 3 In addition, research indicated a higher risk of cognitive decline in people in the lower quartile of omega-3 PUFA intake or blood levels, according to Tal Offer, Ph.D., carotenoids category manager, Lycored. 4 Observational studies suggest a correlation between blood levels of DHA and cognition in healthy adults. One study found higher serum DHA levels were associated with better nonverbal reasoning, mental fl exibility, working memory and vocabulary in people ages 35 to 54 with no neuropsychiatric disorders and no supplemental fi sh oil use. 5 A similar study reported improvement of episodic and working memory in people ages 18 to 35 who were provided with a high-DHA supplement containing 1,160 mg DHA and 170 mg EPA daily for six months compared to placebo controls. 6 A review pointed out the effect on episodic memory was driven primarily by the women in the study, whereas the men were largely responsible for the effect on working memory. 1 The eyes can also benefi t. "Omega-3s play an essential role in eye health, as the body's highest concentration of the omega-3 DHA is found in the retina of the eye with concentrations of up to 65 percent," Marshall explained. One study from the National Eye Institute (NEI) used data from Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and found participants who reported in the AREDS having the highest level of omega-3s in their diets were 30 percent less likely than their peers to develop macular degeneration during a 12-year period. 7 Supplementation with omega-3s has potential to help reduce infl ammation. One study found rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who consumed omega-3s showed signifi cant reductions in the number of tender joints, duration of morning stiffness and delayed onset of fatigue. 8 Improvements deteriorated after treatment ceased in many of the cases, according to Marshall. 8 In addition, a meta-analysis of studies reported signifi cant reductions in pain measures after three to four months of omega-3 treatment in patients with infl ammatory joint pain. 9 Recent studies have also indicated individuals with diets low in fi sh or omega-3s carry a signifi cantly higher risk of developing RA. 10 ALA has been shown to have anti- infl ammatory properties, as well. Recent meta-analyses suggested risk reductions of cardiovascular disease (CVD) from the consumption of ALA were similar to those of marine-derived EPA and DHA. 11 One Omega-3s Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known to benefit the brain and heart. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential fatty acid that cannot be produced by the human body, found in food sources such as flaxseed and chia. EPA and DHA are prone to formulation challenges due to off tastes, but emulsification technologies are expanding application possibilities. Omega-3 Types and Their Health Effects on the Body: Why Supplementation Is Important by Courtney Johnson INSIDER's Take

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