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Omega 3 Fatty Acid Deficiency, a Cause for Early Death

By Dr. Kristie

A shocking analysis recently published in the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal reveals that omega 3 fatty acid deficiency may result in 96,000 additional deaths each year in the United States.

This conclusion comes from a study carried out by researchers at Harvard University who analyzed twelve lifestyle and personal factors that could account for early mortality among Americans. The surprising conclusion was that omega-3 fatty acid deficiency was one of the most important factors.

Is It Common?

Most Americans get far less omega 3 fatty acids in their diet than is recommended by experts. Omega 3’s are found predominantly in the bodies of fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, although flaxseed and walnuts are two good vegetarian sources. Omega 3’s have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effects as well as disease protective properties.

When taken in sufficient quantities, they reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and are thought to decrease the risk of heart disease.

They also appear to reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and are even thought to play a role in relieving the symptoms of some mental disorders such as depression. Ongoing studies are also looking at the role omega 3’s play in cancer prevention.

With this many benefits, it’s not surprising that omega 3 fatty acid deficiency could increase the risk of dying prematurely. The Harvard researchers emphasized that omega 3’s are part of an overall healthy lifestyle and it can be difficult to separate out other lifestyle practices.

For example, people who don’t get enough omega 3’s may be more likely to eat an unhealthy diet, not exercise, and smoke, all of which increase the risk of premature death.

The Harvard researchers went so far as to say that an omega e fatty acid deficiency could be just as important as a diet high in trans fats when it comes to increasing the risk of early death.

Why Are Omega 3’s So Important?

Despite this study, it isn’t completely clear why omega 3’s are important for health. Many of their beneficial properties are thought to be related to their anti-inflammatory action. Chronic inflammation has been associated with a variety of diseases ranging from cancer and heart disease to periodontal disease.

Dietary factors that reduce inflammation appear to lower the risk of some diseases and could conceivably prolong life span.

The Bottom Line?

Although omega 3’s are important, an overall healthy diet consisting of organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps to reduce inflammation due to their high levels of antioxidants. Following this type of diet along with omega 3’s in the form of fish oil or flaxseed can go a long ways towards increasing longevity.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.


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