Update on the Health Benefits of EPA/DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Personalized Testing: By Dr Bruce Holub

Update on the Health Benefits of EPA/DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Personalized Testing: By Dr Bruce Holub

March 10, 2020 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

Extensive studies from various countries have indicated that very low dietary intakes of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) plus DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) contribute to sub-optimal health outcomes and premature chronic disease throughout the human life cycle. The generally low intakes of EPA/DHA are primarily due to the low consumption of fish/seafood, a major dietary source of these important omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementation with EPA/DHA via numerous well-controlled human/clinical trials beginning in pregnancy and throughout the life span into old age have demonstrated a wide range of benefits to human health and the prevention/management of chronic diseases. Such a nutritional strategy provides for filling the so-called ‘nutritional gap’ between actual dietary intakes and optimal recommended intakes of EPA/DHA.

As reviewed extensively, supplementation with DHA omega-3 during pregnancy to meet or often surpass recommended intakes from various expert committees has been shown to be effective in preventing early and preterm delivery. Higher levels of DHA in breast milk fat and in commercial infant formula have been associated with better cognitive and visual outcomes during infancy. The brain and retina of the eye are particularly dependent on an adequate supply for optimal functioning.  DHA supplementation in school children has been reported to enhance reading ability, working memory, and behaviour.

Numerous supplementation trials with EPA/DHA in diverse adult studies have indicated considerable benefits with respect to cognitive functioning, depression, inflammatory conditions, macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, liver and kidney disease, and cardiovascular health. Several risk factors for cardiovascular disease including the lowering of blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood platelet aggregation, others have been credited for the reductions in ’hard clinical events’ reported with EPA/DHA supplementation. Very recently, completion of the REDUCE-IT trial found profound reductions in first and total cardiovascular events (including cardiovascular death) via EPA supplementation in patients on blood cholesterol-lowering drugs. The observed benefit was partially accounted for via the well-established blood triglyceride-lowering effect of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

In the Lipid Analytical Lab (www.lipidanalytical.com) at the University of Guelph Research Park, we are actively involved in omega-3 analyses via ‘personalized omega-3 diagnostic testing’ on specialized paper strips using blood spots (for assessing the risk of premature births during pregnancy or sudden cardiac death, all-cause mortality, age-related cognitive deterioration in the general population) or breast milk spots (for monitoring DHA levels related to infant development). Risk levels as determined in such spot testing can be readily improved via appropriate omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

Biography
Dr. Bruce Holub, PhD

Dr. Bruce Holub is University Professor Emeritus, Department of Human Health & Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. He received his B.Sc. degree from the University of Guelph (1967) and his Ph.D. (Major in Biochemistry with Minor in Nutrition) from the University of Toronto (1971). Dr. Holub received Post-doctoral training as an MRC Fellow at the University of Michigan Medical School. He has served as President, Nutrition Society of Canada and Chair, Nutrition Task Force (Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario). He has authored over 200 papers in scientific journals (medical, nutrition, other) in addition to various book chapters and conference proceedings. His research program is focused on dietary omega-3 fatty acids (DHA plus EPA) from fish/fish oils and resulting nutraceutical supplementation plus functional foods for human health and the roles for DHA/EPA in supporting optimal cognitive performance, visual acuity, and other health outcomes throughout the life cycle plus improving the prevention/management of cardiovascular disease risk factors /events and other chronic disorders (inflammatory conditions incl. arthritis and dry eye syndrome, certain cancers, asthma, mental deteriorations, others). 

As well, he has been active in the evaluation of nutraceuticals and agri-foods for improving human health, disease prevention and management, and their potential for considerable cost-savings to the healthcare system. Dr. Holub has had active collaborative research with clinical groups in various Canadian medical schools, the Mayo Clinic in the United States, Japan, Greenland, Turkey, and the nutritional supplement plus agri-food sectors. He has given over 450 invited off-campus lectures in over 20 countries. 

Prof. Holub also serves as Scientific Director for the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute and a freely-accessible website that provides current evidence-based health and research information on DHA/EPA from fish/seafood, fish oils, DHA/EPA-enriched supplements, and functional foods containing DHA/EPA omega-3 fatty acids at www.dhaomega3.org.

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