New research has shown that increased levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can improve your chances of living longer. The study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at over 2,000 people and what percentage of their total fatty acids are made up of EPA and DHA. This number then was used as their risk assessment. It turns out that the researchers found that the higher the level of omega-3 index was, the lower the risk.
There are different behaviors people can adopt to help extend their life such as exercise, eating a balanced diet and being socially active. It was found that people over age 65 could live almost 4.7 years longer if they had a high omega-3 index. A low omega-3 index shortened a person’s lifespan by about the same as being a smoker. This does not mean a smoker can undo damage by adding omega-3 fatty acid, but it supports further research to be done.
Omega-3 fatty acid can be added to a persons diet through fish oil supplements or eating foods rich in the nutrients. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seed oil do not include EPA or DHA. Be careful when selecting a fish oil supplement. Not all are the same. It is worth spending more to get a higher quality supplement because some of the lower cost fish oil supplements can be rancid and contain toxic chemicals like dioxin and PCB’s. Look for a minimum of EPA and DHA levels combined of 500 mg per serving. That will be listed on the supplement facts panel for a quality fish oil. A person should take the recommended serving of 500 to 1000 mg daily, however some people consume 2000 mg – 2500 mg each day to boost the benefits. The antioxidant Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that is found in wild salmon and gives it the intense pink flesh color. That helps prevent oxidation of the omega-3 fatty acids. It has many health benefits and it is beneficial to take 3 mg – 5 mg along with fish oil supplements.
You can also get omega-3 fatty acids from eating cold water fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies or sardines. These fish are caught fresh from their natural environment where they eat a diet that produces lots of EPA and DHA giving them higher nutrient levels. Farm-raised salmon are fed a processed diet and do not contain high levels of omega-3’s. Their meat also tends to have more pollutants and toxins from the closed artificial environment in which they are raised so are best avoided.
The evidence is overwhelming that adding DHA and EPA to your diet can help maintain a healthy body and improve longevity.
To view the original scientific study click below:
Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort