Salmon. Image credit: Melissa Doroquez / Flickr

New research on omega-3 and its correlation to mortality provides new insights into its potential benefits.

Omega 3 has previously been found to reduce the risk cardiovascular disease. It has also been indicated to be anti-inflammatory, to preempt developmental disorders, psychiatric disorders, and cognitive aging.

Eat Omega 3 and Live Longer?

This study Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults: A Cohort Study is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between total mortality and dietary omega 3.

Designed as a large population cohort study, it includes 2,700 people aged 65 years and then followed for 16 years. It has been published in the Annals of internal medicine and was led by Dariush Mozaffarian who is a professor at the Harvard school of public health.

The researchers then analyzed the resulting data on total mortality and if it can be correlated to omega 3 consumption as seen in blood samples taken regularly.

The resulting analysis shows that mortality fell by 27 percent at any given age for those with blood samples that indicate the highest levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

It also shows that for those who have been taking the highest amounts of dietary DHA, it reduced the risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 40 percent. Mortality related to arrhythmias decreased by 45 percent.

DPA was linked to reduced risk of dying from a stroke while EPA was most strongly linked to heart attacks.

Omega 3

The main source of omega-3 is fish but is also found in canola, flaxseed, linseed, as well as walnuts and some other vegetables to a  lesser degree. But vegetable sources contains omega 3 in a form of ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid). The human body and some other animals can convert ALA into DHA and EPA.

Omega-3 is only especially found in parts of fish where the need for speed and accuracy are at its greatest. As the fat facilitate flexibility due to a very low freezing point. Parts such as eyelids, heart valves, sperm, and the brain.

Omega-3 are in itself composed of three different fatty acids known as EPA, DPA, and DHA.


Long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3-PUFAs), including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20:5ω-3), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (22:5ω-3), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22:6ω-3), have been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk, but effects on cause-specific and total mortality and potential dose-responses remain controversial. Most observational studies have assessed self-reported dietary intake and most randomized trials have tested effects of adding supplements to dietary intake and evaluated secondary prevention, thus limiting inference for dietary ω3-PUFAs or primary prevention.
To investigate associations of plasma phospholipid EPA, DPA, DHA, and total ω3-PUFA levels with total and cause-specific mortality among healthy older adults not receiving supplements.
Prospective cohort study.
4 U.S. communities.
2692 U.S. adults aged 74 years (±5 years) without prevalent coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, or heart failure at baseline.
Phospholipid fatty acid levels and cardiovascular risk factors were measured in 1992. Relationships with total and cause-specific mortality and incident fatal or nonfatal CHD and stroke through 2008 were assessed.
During 30 829 person-years, 1625 deaths (including 570 cardiovascular deaths), 359 fatal and 371 nonfatal CHD events, and 130 fatal and 276 nonfatal strokes occurred. After adjustment, higher plasma levels of ω3-PUFA biomarkers were associated with lower total mortality, with extreme-quintile hazard ratios of 0.83 for EPA (95% CI, 0.71 to 0.98; P for trend = 0.005), 0.77 for DPA (CI, 0.66 to 0.90; P for trend = 0.008), 0.80 for DHA (CI, 0.67 to 0.94; P for trend = 0.006), and 0.73 for total ω3-PUFAs (CI, 0.61 to 0.86; P for trend < 0.001). Lower risk was largely attributable to fewer cardiovascular than noncardiovascular deaths. Individuals in the highest quintile of phospholipid ω3-PUFA level lived an average of 2.22 more years (CI, 0.75 to 3.13 years) after age 65 years than did those in the lowest quintile.
Temporal changes in fatty acid levels and misclassification of causes of death may have resulted in underestimated associations, and unmeasured or imperfectly measured covariates may have caused residual confounding.
Higher circulating individual and total ω3-PUFA levels are associated with lower total mortality, especially CHD death, in older adults.
National Institutes of Health.


Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults: A Cohort Study