Do we need to eat fish to live longer lives? Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, on a regular basis, may actually extend your life, a new research study suggests. A study using more than 2,600 older adults recently found participants with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids live more than two years longer on average—when compared to their lower level counterparts. Living longer may be one of the benefits of fish oil vitamins.
'The study itself wasn't conducted for fish oil supplements of blood omega-3 levels related to one's diet,' as said by researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, currently serving as an associate professor of epidemiology at Boston's Harvard School of Public Health.
The Annals of Internal Medicine published the study on April 1st, where it was revealed that the study doesn't exactly prove that eating omega-3 fish oils benefits one's life span, instead suggesting a connection between the two. 'Omega-3 blood levels are related to having a lower risk of death, especially cardiovascular-related deaths,' Mozaffarian continued.
He found that people harboring the highest omega-3 levels reduced their overall risk of death, from any cause, by up to 27 percent. They also had a 35 percent lower risk of death by heart disease. The effect on other death causes, however, hasn't been too clear, Mozaffarian commented. Instead of using results from self-reported intakes like other researchers, his team measured actual blood levels of the fatty acids.
During the start of the study, researches analyzed blood samples, asked about participants' lifestyles and did physical exams. No participants, who were aged 74 years on average, took omega-3 supplements at the time of the initial study.
Throughout the 16 year follow-up, 1,625 people died, which included 570 dying of cardiovascular causes. The study found that participants with higher omega-3 blood levels lowered their risk of death during the follow-up.
Alice Lichtenstein, a director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory of Boston's Tufts University, stressed that although researchers found an association, it didn't exactly set-up a cause-and-effect relationship.
'The study's results supports a relation between higher fish intakes and lower total mortality risks, particularly stemming from coronary heart disease,' Lichtenstein said, although not a part of the study.
'The researchers can't determine whether the omega-3 levels had a direct impact on the participant's reduced risk of death or acting as a way to encourage a healthier lifestyle.'
'As an example, people with the highest omega-3 levels also ate more vegetables and fruit than those in lower level groups, suggesting simply taking a fish oil supplement may not reproduce the same effects.'
But—if you're not a fish eater, don't worry. 'Going from little to some omega-3 intake seems to be how people get the most benefit for their blood levels,' Mozaffarian commented.
Considering research carried out at Harvard University indicates deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids to be one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S., the need for supplementation with a high quality fish oil seems obvious. A balance between the two types of fish oil vitamins is necessary for the most benefit. An optimum ratio of 2:1, omega 6 to omega 3, is considered best. In the U.S., the ratio is roughly 20:1. This leaves the population at risk for increased inflammation that can lead to more heart health problems. Research shows an increased survival rate for heart attack victims with the use of omega 3 fatty acids. This research focused on reduced inflammation, also.
When adrenal fatigue sets in under conditions of continuing stress, the body begins breaking down. In the presence of low cortisol levels, inflammation can increase, often resulting in the onset of chronic diseases, including heart disease. One of the benefits of fish oil vitamins, especially omega 3, is a lower risk of death from heart disease. A proper balance of omega 3 to omega 6 is necessary. With too much omega 6, there is the risk of increased inflammation.
Physicians adhering to the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) model of stress response will be open to and aware of the need for a balance of omega 3 and omega 6. Many if not most traditionally trained physicians won’t even consider the importance of fish oil vitamins in the treatment of heart disease in the presence of stress. Treatment of heart disease could be more comprehensive and likely more effective with consideration of the interactivity of organ systems and the NEM model.