The world of conventional medicine seems to continue in its doubt of natural therapies until its own methods prove a natural therapy worked… and then they hijack it for a medication. Once again, researchers have found omega 3’s, in this case the EPA form, to have significant benefit for patients with cardiovascular disease. Therefore, of course, they approved a medication form.
This study performed a meta-analysis of 38 studies covering over 149,000 patients on Omega 3 fatty acids to determine if they had lower heart disease outcomes. Prior studies, for various reasons had revealed mixed results in the past. Some studies looked good and some did not. In this study, “they evaluated key cardiovascular outcomes, including cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal cardiovascular outcomes, bleeding, and atrial fibrillation.” There was clear and conclusive evidence that omega 3’s helped lower these risks.
Omega 3’s are one class of polyunsaturated fatty acids that we find in our food and need for overall health. Each of the different polyunsaturated fatty acids have what are called double bonds in chains of carbons attached to hydrogens. The double bonds make them more flexible at a molecular level and therefore more liquid at body temperatures. The difference between omega 3s, 6s, and 9s at the molecular level depends on where the double bonds start in the chain. From a functional level, omega 3’s and 9’s are more anti-inflammatory while omega 6’s tend to cause more inflammation.
A diet higher in omega 3’s and 9’s has been associated with a variety of health benefits in other studies. Omega 3’s are found in cold water fish like salmon as well as some other fish like sardines and mackerel. These are EPA and DHA forms of omega 3’s. Plants have ALA or alpha linoleic acid as their forms of omega 3’s. Land animals like cattle have various levels of omega 3’s based on their diets. More grain tends towards higher omega 6 versus omega 3, while grass fed cattle lean towards higher omega 3 content. Our dietary intake of these various sources determines the ratios of our own polyunsaturated vitamin make-up.
In this meta-analysis, both EPA and DHA showed benefits for heart health, but EPA alone showed the highest benefits in the cardiovascular system. We in functional medicine are glad to get this validation for our long-term recommendation for our patients to increase fish consumption and to consider omega 3 supplements when heart disease risk is high. Helping our patients live healthier more abundant lives means applying science in terms of nutritional AND supplement recommendations. We use advanced testing to determine our patient’s specific needs. We guide them in their daily food choices and supplement choices.
Safi U. Khan, Ahmad N. Lone, Muhammad Shahzeb Khan, Salim S. Virani, Roger S. Blumenthal, Khurram Nasir, Michael Miller, Erin D. Michos, Christie M. Ballantyne, William E. Boden, Deepak L. Bhatt. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine, 2021; 100997 DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100997
Thanks to Science Daily:
Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Meta-analysis finds that omega-3 fatty acids improved cardiovascular outcomes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210708083854.htm>
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.