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Brain, Eye and Heart Health: Three Reasons to Eat More Omega-3s

DENVER, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Most pregnant women consuming a typical western diet obtain too little DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a major marine omega-3 fatty acid, which is critical for fetal and infant brain development. This was the conclusion of a landmark report from an international panel of nutrition experts summarized in the September 2007 Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter electronic publications. The report called for pregnant and lactating women to consume at least 200 mg of DHA/day. It also noted that higher maternal intakes of DHA are linked to better visual acuity, cognitive function, sleep patterns and other benefits.

Another study discussed in the e-newsletters found that mothers at high-risk of preterm delivery may lower their chance of giving birth early by increasing their intake of marine omega-3s. Moreover, the breast milk content of DHA in mothers from around the world was the lowest in countries where little fish is consumed, such as the U.S. and Canada.

"Many, if not most, women are not consuming enough DHA," said Joyce Nettleton, DSc, editor of Fats of Life and the PUFA Newsletter. "This is especially true in western countries."

Seeing is believing when it comes to marine omega-3s and eye health. A US study revealed that animals at risk of retinal damage were better protected from vision loss if they consumed diets high in marine omega-3s.

Other recent research reported that a key region of the brain affected by mood disorders has significantly less DHA in people suffering from major depression compared with those who are not depressed. There is also new evidence that cognitive function in later life may be partly protected when marine omega-3s are more abundant.

Finally, the e-newsletters report that DHA, along with the omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), enhances the effectiveness of statin drugs in patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides by lowering triglycerides significantly, according to an Australian study. Statins alone have little effect on triglyceride levels.

The bottom line: boosting one's marine omega-3 intake may improve brain development and function and protect the eyes and heart from disease damage. Learn more in the latest issues of the quarterly Fats of Life e-newsletter and PUFA Newsletter. These publications, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products, are online at and by complimentary subscription.

SOURCE Fats of Life
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