Oily fish are the major source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are now recognised world-wide as a key factor in human health. A major part of the oily fish caught is inedible. Thanks to fishmeal and fish oil production, EPA and DHA contained in these fish can be returned to the human food chain via fish oil supplements, as well as via farmed fish and even livestock.
EPA and DHA found in fish oil has been the subject of numerous studies showing they confer several health benefits which are well documented (see table below). Regulatory and expert scientific bodies generally recommend 250-500mg of EPA and DHA per day for primary prevention of chronic diseases although according to a study by Mozaffarian (2008) this amount is thought to be the minimum daily intake to ensure reducing the risk of fatal cardiac events.
Table 1 lists a number of health benefits that are attributed to the regular consumption of EPA and DHA along with a grading depending on the level of scientific support.
Source: Adapted from ‘What is so healthy about Seafood?’ Australian Government, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
EPA and DHA are especially important for pregnant women because these essential fatty acids are key to foetal brain development and could help with the prevention and treatment of postpartum depression. It has also been shown to be beneficial for development of babies/infants - especially for the nervous system including brain and eyes.
Long chain Omega 3 fatty acids found in the marine environment are increasingly being found to be essential for human health and development. This short video explains the origin of these important fats found in the marine environment and explains how the latest research is showing that we should all consider increasing how much EPA and DHA we consume to ensure the health of ourselves and our families.