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Heart and Cardiovascular System Health

The cardiovascular system is a network of veins and arteries, which circulate blood around the body. The heart, acting as a pump creates the movement. Blood is pumped into the arteries for delivery to the cells where it is needed, then drawn back through the veins to the heart to begin the cycle over again. To maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, there must not be any hindrance to the free flow of the blood.

Heart and cardiovascular health was the first area investigated with regard to the health impact of Omega-3 fatty acids. It was noticed in the early 1970s that the Inuit people of Greenland had a high fat, high cholesterol diet, yet were able to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Subsequent investigations concluded that this was due to the high level of Omega-3 fatty acids in their native diet of fish and marine animals. Since then several other studies, including two large American studies in 1997 and 1998 have revealed the same thing: that heart and cardiovascular health is enhanced among weekly fish eaters when compared to those who ate fish only infrequently. *

Omega-3 may help increase the flexibility of the red-blood-cell membranes, thus making the blood less sludgy and more fluid. This not only helps maintain healthy circulation everywhere in the body, including the brain, but also may make it easier for the heart to do its job of continuous pumping.

Numerous studies have found that a diet that includes a serving of fatty fish, especially those rich in Omega-3, provide a health benefit to the heart and cardiovascular system. And even a diet that includes a fish serving only once per week has been shown to provide this benefit. In a 1998 study of 20,551 male physicians aged 40 to 84 years, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that eating fish at least once a week helped to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system when compared to those who only ate fish less than once a month.

Another study published in the same journal in 1995 found similar results: researchers found that the intake of just one portion of fatty, Omega-3-rich fish per week helped people maintain a healthy heart when compared to controls, even after adjusting for age, smoking, family history of heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, physical activity, education, and cholesterol level. The researchers believe that consumption of fatty fish, fish oil, or linolenic acid increases the levels of the Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in the membranes of the red blood cells, and confers the healthy heart benefits. This was confirmed by blood samples taken from the comparative groups.

A healthy diet that includes a serving of fatty fish rich in Omega-3 at least once a week is just one factor that may help a person maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. It is also prudent to take other "heart healthy" measures, such as a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and abstinence from cigarettes and alcohol.


The producers of Coromega recommend that children under 4 not take this product due to the fact that some younger children may aspirate their food.

Their concerns are due to the oily nature of this product, they wish to avoid irritation of the lungs or nasal passages which they feel could result if this product is aspirated.

IF your child CAN eat foods with the consistency of "pudding" then small amounts may be included in their food. The manufacturer recommends 1/2 packet a day for young children. I personally give my own children 2-3 ( their ages currently range from 7-14 years old) packages each week for health maintenance.

Mental and Nervous System Health

We’ve all heard fish called "brain food." In fact, the most polyunsaturated of the Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain. The fat in your brain is the type that forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neurons in the brain, the cells that transmit chemical messages, are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, there’s more DHA in our neurons than in our red blood cells. DHA is also found in high quantities in the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye. A typical Western diet, however, generally is deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA.

Research in the last few years has revealed that diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood, and may help us maintain a healthy mental status in later years. Researchers speculate that a diet rich in the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in fish oil, may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in part because DHA is a main component of the synaptic membranes in the brain. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 62, July 1995, pp. 1-9.) Researchers in another study found that people with a healthy emotional balance and positive mental outlook tended to have higher levels of DHA in their red blood cells. (Biol Psychiatry 1998; 43(5): 315-9.)

A Danish team of researchers compared the diets of 5,386 healthy older individuals and found that the more fish in a person’s diet, the longer the person was able to maintain a healthy mental status. (Ann Neurol 1997; 42: 776-82.)

Pregnancy and Neonatal Health

There is accumulating scientific evidence to demonstrate the importance of Omega-3 in the development of the unborn child in the womb and the newly born infant. Required throughout pregnancy, the Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important during the last 3 months and during early infancy for the proper development of the brain, eyes and nervous system. Since the unborn baby cannot make its own Omega-3, its' needs must be met by its' mother. To ensure an adequate supply of Omega-3, evidence suggests that a women should eat oily fish several times a week or take a daily fish oil supplement early in pregnancy or even before conception. Omega-3 supplementation while breast- feeding results in Omega-3-enriched milk, which passes to the baby.

Researchers at the University of Milan report that infants whose formula contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially DHA) have healthier brain development than children who did not receive DHA in their formula. The observation supports earlier findings that there is a direct correlation between the DHA concentration in the red blood cells of infants and their visual acuity. The researchers recommend that infants who are not breast-fed be fed a DHA-enriched formula. The researchers report that breast milk already contains the fatty acids necessary for healthy brain development. (The Lancet, Vol. 346, September 2, 1995, p. 638.)

Researchers also believe that breast-fed infants may develop higher intelligence. A meta-analysis of 11 published studies reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (October, 1999) showed a 60% gain in intelligence in breast fed infants over those who were formula-fed, measured by IQ scores. The researchers suggest that the higher IQs are attributable to the nutritional value of breast milk, which contains certain Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA. These Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with brain development and are not found in most formulas. All the studies the researchers examined were "retrospective," analyzing the IQ development of babies who were breast-fed. However, the superior performance of breast-fed babies could be due to other factors, including the fact that women who breast-feed their babies tend to be of a higher socioeconomic class.

The content of the Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, of women who were pregnant for the first time and their children was found to be higher than those who had previously been through 1 to 6 pregnancies. Additionally, the DHA level in the umbilical cord of first-born infants was found to be higher than in children whose mothers had been pregnant before. This study provides evidence that with each subsequent birth, mothers may need to supplement their reserves of DHA. (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, 51: 548-53.)

Skin Health

We all desire clear, youthful skin that radiates health and vitality. But, many of us think that healthy skin comes from creams and lotions. The fact is, the food we eat has a major impact on skin condition. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, protects underlying tissues, and plays a major role in temperature regulation, immunity and metabolic functions. The best diet for healthy looking skin emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables, and minimal amounts of saturated fats (found mostly from animal products). Drinking eight glasses a day of water (more if you exercise regularly) is also essential to maintaining skin health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are another component for healthy skin cells, and daily dietary intake is suggested for optimum skin health. Around each and every cell in the skin is a membrane that normally keeps moisture inside the cell. Omega-3 fatty acids form a part of the skin’s cell membrane, and help keep it moist and strong. They do this by encouraging the production of strong collagen and elastin fibers, and may help the skin to look younger for longer.

Research suggests that Omega-3, along with vitamins A, D and E, and the mineral zinc, may help protect teenage skin from simple acne, spots, blackheads and whiteheads when combined with other healthy diet measures such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking sufficient quantities of water (8 glasses per day) and regular exercise.

Immune System Health

A healthy immune system is one that knows "when to attack, what to attack, and when to hold back". A few studies have found that a diet enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids may help you maintain a healthy immune function. For instance, in cultures of normal human blood, only blood incubated in the Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, significantly decreased the amount of white blood cell surface molecules needed in the immune response of normal, healthy humans. (American Journal of Nutrition, 1996, 126: 603-610.)

Joint Health

Omega-3 fatty acids may serve to block some of the body’s processes that limit joint health and freedom of movement. More than a dozen studies in the last 10 years have found that a diet with a more balanced intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids may help maintain healthy joints. Researchers point out that humans evolved on a diet, which had an approximately 2:1, ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Modern diets not only contain a vast excess of Omega-6 fatty acids (50 times more than required), but also have a highly unfavorable 25:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Some researchers feel that there is now enough evidence to recommend that joint health can be enhanced through the emphasis of a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids as found in fish oil and Omega-3 rich seeds and vegetables, and through the avoidance of foods rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. (British Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 36, May 1997, pp. 513-14 editorial)


In April, 1999 a Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs) for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids was held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. The workshop concluded with the development of specific recommendations for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy adults and pregnant and lactating women:

Table 1: Adequate Intakes (AI)* for Adults

Source: Simopoulos, AP, et al., Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD (April 7-9, 1999).

1. Although the recommendation is for AI, the Working Group felt that there is enough scientific evidence to also state an upper limit (UL) for LA of 6.67 g/d based on a 2000 kcal diet or of 3.0% energy.

2. For pregnant and lactating women, ensure 300 mg/day of DHA.

3. Except for dairy products, other foods under natural conditions do not contain trans-FA. Therefore, the Working Group does not recommend trans-FA to be in the food supply as a result of hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids or high temperature cooking (reused frying oils).

4. Saturated fats should not comprise more than 8% of energy.

5. The Working Group recommended that the majority of fatty acids be obtained from monounsaturates. The total amount of fat in the diet is determined by the culture and dietary habits of people around the world (total fat ranges from 15-40% of energy) but with special attention to the importance of weight control and reduction of obesity

Glossary of Chart Abbreviations

* AI = Adequate Intake. If sufficient scientific evidence is not available to calculate an Estimated Average Requirement, a reference intake called an Adequate Intake is used instead of a Recommended Dietary Allowance. The AI is a value based on experimentally derived intake levels or approximations of observed mean nutrient intakes by a group (or groups) of healthy people. The AI for children and adults is expected to meet or exceed the amount needed to maintain a defined nutritional state or criterion of adequacy in essentially all members of a specific healthy population; LA = linoleic acid; LNA = alpha-linolenic acid; DHA = docosahexaenoic acid; EPA = eicosapentaenoic acid; TRANS-FA = trans fatty acids; SAT = saturated fatty acids; MONOs = monounsaturated fatty acids.

Scientific Foundation for The Omega Diet

"One of the few modern diets with a balanced ratio of EFAs is the traditional diet of the Greek Island of Crete. The unique health properties of this particular version of the Mediterranean diet was not known until the 1970s, when international researchers conducted a health survey of thousands of middle-aged men living in seven quite different countries, including the United States, Japan, Italy, and Greece. During the course of the 15-year study, it became apparent that the men from Crete maintained a better health status when compared to the men from the other countries. This was puzzling to the researchers because the Italian men appeared to be eating a similar diet. There was something unique about the Crete diet, but at the time, no one knew what it was.

Medical researchers gained new insight into the Crete diet in the early 1990s when two French scientists observed that the diet was low in omega-6 fatty acids and relatively high in Omega-3 fatty acids---paralleling the diet of our early ancestors. To see if eating a balanced ratio of EFAs was one of the missing keys to good health, they designed a clinical trial to compare a slightly modified Crete diet with the standard, low fat heart diet. After three years, the people on the modified Crete diet had substantially superior cardiovascular health. (de Lorgeril, MD, Salen, P., Monfaud, I., Delaye, J. (1997). European Heart Journal 18: 13-18)"

Information about this diet (including recipes, shopping lists, and a 21 day menu planning guide) may be found in the book The Omega Diet by Artemis Simopoulos, MD and Jo Robinson (1999: HarperCollins Publishers, NY, NY) For more information about Omega-3 fatty acids as well as ordering.

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