Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Human Health

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Chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, degenerative diseases, and others often lead to poor quality of life and high health care costs. Adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids—found in plant, algal, fungal, and fish oils—as part of a nutritious diet could help prevent or treat these diseases and reduce their economic impacts. However, the different forms of omega-3 fatty acids have distinct effects on human health, and some health benefits—and the recommended daily intake to achieve these benefits—are controversial. Current recommendations made by medical professionals and public health authorities are not always consistent or up-to-date, leading many consumers to be confused about how much or what kinds of omega-3 fatty acids to include in their diets. Furthermore, concerns regarding the sustainability of fish stocks and the contamination of fish by mercury and pesticides are rising, making consumers unsure whether fish is a healthy source for omega-3 fatty acids. Appropriate dietary recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids are also needed to reduce the potential for negative health and economic consequences of excessive and unsafe omega-3 fatty acid supplementation practices.

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