Give omega-3 to the poor, says UK researcher

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Nutrition

A paper published in a British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) journal has called for omega-3 supplements to be made available to lower socio-economic groups because low income earners have the most to gain from using them.

The paper also called for greater education about the role of omega-3 in the diet of a nation that is blatantly not an ‘oily fish-loving’”​country.

“Making high-quality supplements more available to those subgroups of the population who may not normally be able to afford them, and may be likely to benefit most from them, could help individuals to achieve optimal health,”​ wrote Igennus nutrition scientist, Dr Nina Bailey.

The BNF pointed out its views and Bailey's were not necessarily aligned. Igennus is a UK-based company that funded the paper entitled, Current choices in omega-3 supplementation”.

Bailey added: “Substantial research is needed to clarify the role that long-chain fatty acids play in health and disease to enable the public to modulate their diet accordingly. The use of supplements and the attempts to fortify foodstuffs could play an important role in improving our intake of n-3 fatty acids, at least in some groups.”

Public awareness

Bailey noted that with increased public awareness of health issues and a growing food supplements market, more emphasis should be given to educating the public more thoroughly about the biological roles that these fats play.”

She warned that further research was needed and that quality product needed to be made more widely available to consumers.

“While supplementation is an easy way of modifying fatty acid intake, the quality of many cheaper products favoured by the public as the ‘value for money’ option are unlikely to offer the same health benefits as those that are molecularly distilled to exclude impurities and maximise concentrations of the active ingredients eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).”

The BNF has long been a supporter of the idea that one can attain all the nutrients one needs through the consumption of whole foods.

Many large food and ingredients companies such as Arla, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Danone, Ajinomoto, Mars and Unilever are BNF members.

This story has been amended to reflect the fact that the views of the researcher are not those of the BNF.

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