Food supplements: how useful is the intake of omega-3 fatty acid capsules?
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and viable in small quantities. They can not be produced by the body itself. Some people then resort to omega-3 fatty acid capsules. But is the intake of food supplements really useful?
Essential substances for human nutrition
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential substances for human nutrition. So they are vital and can not be produced by the body itself. Substances improve blood flow properties, inhibit blood clotting, lower blood pressure, anti-inflammatory and influence positive triglyceride metabolism. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) therefore recommends taking 0.5 percent of the daily calories through omega-3 fatty acids. This corresponds to an adult about the amount contained in a tablespoon of canola oil. Some people also resort to omega-3 fatty acid capsules. If taking supplements, but it really makes sense to explain consumer advocates.
Positive influence on health
Omega-3 fatty acids positively influence health. According to experts, they strengthen our immune system, work effectively in vascular calcifications and maintain good health in old age.
Furthermore, studies have shown that they can help with cancer screening and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
However, they do not protect against heart disease, as has been shown in a scientific study.
Omega-3 fatty acids must be absorbed through the diet
Omega-3 fatty acids can not be produced by the body and therefore must be absorbed through the diet.
Good omega-3 suppliers include nuts, green leafy vegetables (eg corn salad), some vegetable oils (eg colza, walnut and linseed oil) and chia seeds.
But most of all fish supplies omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, marine fish rich in fats such as mackerel, herring, tuna or salmon are recommended.
As a general rule, healthy people should consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to eat a complete and balanced diet.
As the Consumer Center explains on their website, if you do not eat fish, like a vegan diet, you will not get much eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
According to experts, these can be delivered by fortified foods (eg fortified oil or margarine) or food supplements (for example, from fish oil or marine microalgae).
But are these funds generally recommended?
Not suitable for the treatment of diseases
Food supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil or linseed oil capsules, are often advertised to maintain normal levels of cholesterol in the blood and triglycerides and normal blood pressure.
Furthermore, they should contribute to normal brain function, vision and cardiac function. These health claims are scientifically proven and allowed by law, explains the Consumer Center.
However, the preparations must contain a minimum prescribed amount of these fatty acids. However, permitted health claims are often strengthened or exaggerated.
Thus, for example, "contributing to normal cardiac function" is effective in "possessing protective properties for a healthy heart".
Above all on the Internet, omega-3 fatty acid products are repeatedly advertised with unauthorized claims such as "to protect against heart attack and stroke", "Help with arthritis and joint problems" and "Breast cancer protection" ".
But supplements containing omega-3 fatty acid are foods and are not suitable for the treatment of diseases.
No protection against heart attacks and strokes
A large study (meta-analysis) conducted by the University of Oxford has shown that food supplements containing up to two grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day do not prevent heart attacks or strokes. If high dose products work, it is still under study.
Another study, also from Oxford, examined whether the intake of fish oil capsules (with 380 mg of docosahexaenoic acid and 460 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid) protects diabetics from cardiovascular disease.
In this particular target group, subjects treated with placebo did not show differences in the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular death or cancer.
Some statements are prohibited by law
For omega-3 fatty acid products for children, infants or unborn children (products for pregnant women), the following statements are scientifically proven, according to the consumer:
Taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [100 mg täglich] contributes to the normal development of sight in children up to the age of twelve months.
The intake of DHA [200 mg täglich zusätzlich] through the mother it contributes to the normal development of the brain / eyes in the fetus and in the breast-fed child.
However, these effects are only obtained if a certain amount of these fatty acids is absorbed daily. The preparations must therefore have an appropriate reference.
If in a product in addition to α-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acid [ab 0,2 % der Gesamtenergie täglich] still the linoleic acid omega-6 fatty acid [ab 1 % der Gesamtenergie täglich] can include the following product declaration:
Alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid are necessary for healthy growth and development in children.
The claims that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to calming, calming, concentrating, learning, thinking and developing children's mental development (one to twelve years, even in the context of ADHD) are prohibited by law.
In people with a condition such as coronary heart disease (CHD), it may be helpful to add additional medications appropriately dosed with omega-3 fatty acids from a therapeutic point of view (for example, on doctor's instructions).
Side effects and interactions
Side effects and interactions are not excluded when using omega-3 food supplements – although it is not necessary to mention them.
Products with a dose recommended by the manufacturer of up to five grams of EPA and DHA (in combination) or 1.8 grams of EPA (single) per day are considered safe for adults according to the European Food Safety Authority .
A warning that the amount of five grams per day should not be exceeded is prescribed for food supplements and fortified foods at doses above two grams per day.
Higher doses may alter the fluidity of the blood, prolong the bleeding time and therefore increase the risk of bleeding.
Furthermore, nausea and vomiting may occur.
In people with diabetes, it can be difficult to regulate blood sugar levels and adversely affect the immune system, which can lead to increased susceptibility to infections, especially in the elderly.
In the case of an existing infectious disease, therefore, an additional dose of omega-3 fatty acid should only be given after consulting your doctor.
Above all, EPA can cause an increase in the level of LDL cholesterol with increased intake. This is particularly problematic for some disorders of lipid metabolism.
Use and dosage should be discussed with a doctor
Because of the aforementioned risks, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends setting maximum levels for omega-3 fatty acids which unfortunately do not yet exist and to which producers do not feel bound.
According to the BfR, no more than 1.5 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day should be consumed from all sources (including foods such as fish, margarine, nuts).
Pay particular attention when taking medications at the same time. For example, the use of products high in omega-3 fatty acids may increase the effects of anticoagulant drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).
Therefore, the use and dosage of products containing omega-3 fatty acids should only be performed in consultation with a doctor. (To)