Omega-3s Have 230 Percent Return on Investment

Previous Article Next Article
December 26, 2016 | 38,440 views

Story at-a-glance

  • Studies showed that higher omega-3 intake helped avert the onset of high blood pressure (aka hypertension) in young people and increased muscle function in older women by 34 percent
  • People who took 4 grams of krill oil per day raised their Omega-3 Index by 2.7 percentage points, from 3.7 to 6.4 percent
  • Lecithin (aka phosphatidylcholine or PC) and omega-3-rich krill oil reverse hardening of the arteries and benefit brain health
  • Biotechnology companies are developing more omega-3-rich products, while companies like Aker BioMarine address rampant and unsustainable fishing to safeguard seafood supplies for the future
  • For every $1 spent on omega-3 supplements, health care costs related to heart disease were reduced by $2.30 — a 230 percent return on your investment

By Dr. Mercola

A recent European study revealed that young people have an inexpensive and rather silver-bullet shot at preventing the development of high blood pressure by stepping up their intake of one high-octane nutrient: omega-3 fatty acids.

The study,1 presented at the American Heart Association's 2016 Scientific Sessions, involved measuring the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood of 2,036 young, healthy adults.

When each subject's blood pressure was assessed, scientists found that those with the most omega-3s in their blood had the lowest systolic blood pressure (the top blood pressure reading). Conversely, those with the lowest amount of omega-3s in their blood had the highest diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).

Dr. Mark Filipovic, a researcher at the University of Zurich and Cantonal Hospital of Baden in Switzerland, said even a reduction in blood pressure as little as 5 mm Hg could prevent the number of strokes and heart-related events people experience.

Further, another recent study indicates that less than 1 gram of omega-3 fats (known as essential because your body needs them but doesn't make them and must obtain them from an outside source) could benefit people who already suffer from hypertension.

A single 3-ounce serving of wild-caught Alaskan salmon provides this amount.2 Plant and marine sources such as fish, fish oil, algae, flaxseed and hempseed supply omega-3s, but plant sources are devoid of DHA and EPA, among other things, while krill oil has emerged as the best source.3

More Tests Show the Impressive Influence Omega-3s Can Have on Your Health

Consuming omega-3 supplements can increase muscle function in older women (as opposed to a safflower oil placebo in trials), demonstrated while subjects completed 18 weeks of resistance exercise training. The study, from the Universities of Glasgow4 and Aberdeen, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Each study participant had her muscle size measured using MRI and muscle function tested with a dynamometer before and after the program began, which led to the expected result: Resistance training increased their muscle function, size and quality in all the individuals. Interestingly, according to Medical Express:

"In men who were taking the fish oil supplements there were no extra gains in muscle function or size observed over the 18-week intervention period. However, in women, those taking fish oil their muscle function, but not size, increased to a greater extent compared to those in the placebo group.

In the women in the placebo group exercise training resulted in an average strength increase of 16 percent, however when the exercises were combined with an intake of fish oil that improvement increased to an average of 34 percent."5

"These findings provide important information for nutritional guidelines in older people where policy makers may want to consider recommendations for omega-3 supplements to be consumed by older women, said Dr. Stuart Gray, from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow.6

Positive and Far-Reaching Implications of Improved Muscle Function

Improved skeletal muscle improvement could mean regaining the ability to rise from a chair (or the toilet), climb stairs and even regaining or maintaining independence, which is one of the things older people fear losing the most.

Scientists involved in the study on older women emphasized two items: one, that the women's increased muscle function was not associated with muscle size due to taking the omega-3; and two, it was muscle quality rather than size that improved. Decreased function in older people means their quality of life begins to diminish.

Because the percentage of people who reach age 65 is projected to increase from 17 percent now to 23 percent by 2035, encouraging people to develop effective strategies for maintaining health well before that time is crucial, Gray noted in Medical Xpress, adding:

"Findings of a benefit in women are particularly important as women tend to live around four years longer than men and cross the 'disability threshold," where functional abilities are lost, 10 years earlier than men." 7

Phospholipids: What They Mean for Your Health

Early in 2016, the Connecticut-based American Lecithin Company8 rolled out a new line of phospholipids and lecithins extracted from sunflowers that aren't derived from soy. Technically known as phosphatidylcholine or PC, lecithin is a fat that is produced by your body and used by all cells.

Its fat content makes it slippery, preventing cholesterol from absorbing into cells, so it helps optimize cholesterol levels. It also reverses hardening of the arteries for improved cardiovascular health.9 Livestrong says:

"As a phospholipid, your cell membranes require lecithin to function properly. Furthermore, developing fetuses require lecithin, and many doctors recommend lecithin supplements to pregnant women as part of a prenatal vitamin regimen. Lecithin also facilitates the entry of nutrients into existing cells."10

What are phospholipids? They've been described as a large, diverse set of organic compounds called "lipids," the building blocks of cellular membranes. Your body produces them, but some foods can increase their number.

During digestion, phospholipid-bound fatty acids form clusters to help transport vitamins, nutrients and fat-containing molecules through your body and help provide digestibility, absorption and utilization, while supporting both cognitive and liver function, nerve and cardiovascular health, and digestion.

Companies are developing more omega-3-rich products to benefit brain health, cortisol control, ADHD mitigation, sports nutrition and stress management, one CEO said.11 

Lecithin Contains Choline, Good for Your Brain

Lecithin contains choline, making it good for brain health, particularly in the memory category. Wellwise explains that krill oil is a popular phosphatidyl supplement because krill phosphatidylcholine is bonded to omega-3 fatty acids. In fact:

"The best krill oils contain at least 40 percent phospholipids, of which typically three-fourths is phosphatidylcholine (PC). Before krill oil was introduced in the U.S. supplement market in 2004, soy lecithin was the prevalent PC supplement. However, soy lecithin disappeared because it does not contain omega-3.

The presence of omega-3 as a bonded part of the phospholipid molecule is a major benefit, because omega-6 phospholipids from soy are more pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 phospholipids from krill are anti-inflammatory."12

Neptune Wellness Solutions explains that besides a well-balanced diet, krill oil:

"[C]an be an excellent source of beneficial phospholipids. A distinct advantage of krill oil is that it provides long-chain fatty acid phospholipids. This means that the fatty acids bound to the phospholipids in krill oil include EPA and DHA, which is usually not the case with phospholipids derived from plant sources.

… [K]rill oil and fish oil contain omega-3, studies show that humans absorb the essential fatty acids in krill oil more efficiently. Krill oil is comp[o]sed of EPA and DHA bound to phospholipids, which mirrors the structure in every human cell membrane."13

The European Union (EU) recently reported the savings for health care costs realized by using omega-3 food supplements to reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related events, currently estimated at 38.4 million events throughout the EU.

The total cost of addressing the problem is estimated at €1.3 billion (or nearly $1.4 billion) over the next five years.14 A total of 18 randomized controlled trials were examined to find the "relationship between omega-3 EPA+DHA use and the occurrence of a CVD event."

Scientists reported that the relative risk among adults aged 55 and over (24 percent of the population) is reduced by 4.9 percent given the use of 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 EPA+DHA supplements on a daily basis.

Further, the benefit/cost ratio in avoided CVD-attributed costs per €1 ($1.04) spent on omega-3 came out to about €2.29 ($2.38). In other words, for every $1 spent on omega-3 supplements, health care costs related to heart disease were reduced by $2.30 — a 230 percent return on your investment!

Sustainable Krill-Harvesting Practices

Aker BioMarine, the fishery that processes my Antarctic Krill Oil, is dedicated to the sustainable harvest of krill and developing krill-derived biotech products.

As it controls the entire supply chain from beginning to end of the process, the company prides itself on being able to trace all of its products back to the exact location it was harvested.

The shortage of marine-based omega-3 fatty acids is a health concern for higher risk of chronic disease worldwide, even in developed nations. However, the amount of marine-based omega-3s you're actually getting can now be measured by the Omega-3 Index Test.15

According to Aker Biomarine, low EPA and DHA levels have a direct connection to sudden cardiac death, so researchers looked at krill oil to see if it's a good source.

"The results showed that krill oil is an ideal choice for raising the Omega-3 Index because its omega-3s are mostly bound to phospholipids, which enhance cellular uptake and carry EPA and DHA into the blood more efficiently. For example, people who took 4 grams of krill oil per day raised their Omega-3 Index by 2.7 percent points, from 3.7 to 6.4 percent."16

It must be noted that for the majority of those eating the typical American diet, the omega-3 fatty acid intake is low, and in fact includes around 10 times more dietary omega-6 fatty acids, a very unhealthy and potentially dangerous imbalance.

Grants and Rewards for Sustainable Fishery Practices

The Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC),17 a non-governmental, international and non-profit organization established to address rampant and unsustainable fishing, and to safeguard seafood supplies for the future, uses a certification program to reward companies that maintain sustainable fishing practices.

For the second year in a row Aker BioMarine received an "A" rating in its  Reduction Fisheries Sustainable Overview from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership18 which noted that just 3.8 percent of the total catch volume from reduction fisheries (those used to make fish/krill meal and oil) come from stocks in "very good" condition. Cilia Holmes Indahl, the company's sustainability director, said:

"There are no shortcuts when it comes to sustainable business practices at Aker BioMarine. We are no longer just fishing for krill in the Antarctic in a sustainable way — we have a meaning to our everyday work, which is to ensure healthy oceans and healthy lives.

We are ecstatic to receive another 'A' rating from the SFP to put further focus on doing business the right way, we hope to be an inspiration to other reduction fisheries around the world and are confident that positive change will come to the industry. Together we can take the right steps to ensure that fisheries take responsibility for the ecosystems in which they fish."

The Marine Stewardship Council says Aker BioMarine improved data collection and tackled better understanding of the impact that krill harvesting has on juvenile fish, and their measures to reduce the risk of localized depletion of krill, one of the world's most underexploited marine stocks. 

Joint partnerships with environmental scientists in the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund19 chose two projects to fund that would touch on aspects solving the uncertainties around krill flux and how to manage krill fisheries, keeping Antarctic marine ecosystem operations both viable and cost effective. 

Because oceans cover 90 percent of the planet, experts believe future sustainability will depend on more harvesting opportunities from that source, and that doing it intelligently and responsibly is our best option for surviving in health and plenty.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 EurekAlert November 14, 2016
  • 2 Web MD November 13, 2016
  • 3 Today’s Dietician May 2015
  • 4 University of Glasgow November 16, 2016
  • 5, 6, 7, 11 Medical Express November 17, 2016
  • 8 Nutritional Outlook June 20, 2016
  • 9 Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry January 6, 2011
  • 10 Livestrong May 17, 2015
  • 12 Wellwise 2013
  • 13 Neptune Wellness Corporation October 22, 2014
  • 14 Food Supplements Europe
  • 15 Nutrients 2014 February;6(2):799-814
  • 16 Aker Biomarine November 22, 2016
  • 17 Marine Stewardship Council January 9, 2015
  • 18 "Aker BioMarine Receives an 'A' Rating from SFP," AkerBioMarine, September 1, 2016
  • 19 Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund January 5, 2015