As appreciation of the cardio, neuro and retina protective properties of the long-chain fish oil derived omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) has grown, so too have the dietary guidelines. An article in the September 2007 Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine recommended minimal intakes to either maintain the status quo (100-200 mg /day in most Western countries) or a minimum of 400-600 mg /day to lower the risk of cardiovascular or retina disease.
This science is music and money to the ears of the food fortification industry that is now targeting a vast array of packaged foods for EPA/DHA fortification. Gross overconsumption of EPA/DHA could well become a national health problem before the decade is over without government intervention in the food industry.
An article in the September Food Science and Technology Journal discusses the stability of 400 mg fish oil eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in cream-filled sandwich cookies (think Twinkie). These high glycemic cookies were packaged under vacuum or atmospheric conditions and stored for 28 days. They were not stale-they had no aftertaste and no loss of EPA and DHA during storage. What will the U.S. junk food industry try next?
So how does this new oil strike affect our wallets?
- The pharmaceutical industry is now selling concentrated fish oil, as prescription medicine, for five times the per milligram cost of OTC concentrated EPA /DHA from fish oil.
- Some companies are adding insignificant amounts of nutrients to their fish oil to capture disease-specific markets, such as eye care and charging excessive amounts per mg for EPA /DHA.
Too much of a good thing is definitely too much where fish oil is concerned.
Regular ingestion of reasonable amounts of Omega-3 EPA can successfully modulate the silent inflammatory process for many people. However, too much Omega-3 EPA can disrupt inflammatory process essential fatty acid (EFA) homeostasis, thereby preventing optimal inflammatory response when it's needed to spike a temp to kill off bacteria, start the clotting process if bleeding, or create swelling around a tissue injury.
Omega-3 DHA (directly metabolized from EPA) is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain and the retina. However, very excessive intake of DHA has been linked to increased mortality following cardiac events.
As a population, non fish eaters became DHA deficient due to cattle being taken off grass and fed grain before butchering, plus there is far less DHA in eggs in today's world due to factory farming. Unfortunately, the conversion of Omega-3 Flax Seed Oil to EPA is not dependable, therefore causing many Flax Seed Oil loving vegetarians to actually be EPA/DHA deficient.
The obvious question: What happens to future generations who will also need EPA/DHA in their diets if industry is allowed to deplete the seas of cold water fish to satisfy, yet another industry driven, perceived dependency on oil ?