Omega-3, Pollution and Your Heart

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are believed to lessen the risk of many chronic ailments including arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and memory loss. However, it may also help protect the heart against certain damaging effects of air pollution. In a study by a team of researchers at the Mexican National Institute of Public Health, supplementation with Omega-3 was significantly associated with reduced cardiac stress.*

The study examines the effects of Omega-3 verses the oxidative stress of air pollution. Exposure to high levels of particulates from vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions raises the risk of hypertension, heart arrhythmia, heart attack, and stroke, with the elderly being particularly susceptible.The study looked at the population of 52 elderly nursing home residents who were chronically exposed to high levels of air pollution. For four months, half the participants in the double-blind study received fish oil supplements at doses typical for over-the-counter supplement users (1,000 mg); the other half received soy oil supplements. The research team compared blood samples taken from subjects before and during supplementation and found that Omega-3 use was associated with diminished oxidative damage in blood cells. The observed antioxidant effect of omega-3s was much greater in fish oil users than in soy oil users.

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*I. Romieu, R. Garcia-Esteban, J. Sunyer, C. Rios, M. Alcaraz-Zubeldia, S. Ruiz Velasco, F. Holguin. “The Effect of Supplementation with Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Markers of Oxidative Stress in Elderly Exposed to PM2.5.” Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume 116, Pages 1237-1242, doi:10.1289/ehp.10578.

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