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Biomed Pharmacother. 2007 Feb-Apr;61(2-3):105-12. Epub 2007 Jan 2.

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids for women.

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  • 1INSERM U 705, CNRS UMR 7157, Universités Paris 7 et 5, Hôpital Fernand Widal, 200 rue du Faubourg Saint Denis, 75745 Paris cedex 10, France. jean-marie.bourre@fwidal.inserm.fr

Abstract

This review details the specific needs of women for omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha linoleic acid (ALA) and the very long chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acid (dietary or in capsules) ensures that a woman's adipose tissue contains a reserve of these fatty acids for the developing fetus and the breast-fed newborn infant. This ensures the optimal cerebral and cognitive development of the infant. The presence of large quantities of EPA and DHA in the diet slightly lengthens pregnancy, and improves its quality. Human milk contains both ALA and DHA, unlike that of other mammals. Conditions such as diabetes can alter the fatty acid profile of mother's milk, while certain diets, like those of vegetarians, vegans, or even macrobiotic diets, can have the same effect, if they do not include seafood. ALA, DHA and EPA, are important for preventing ischemic cardiovascular disease in women of all ages. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to prevent the development of certain cancers, particularly those of the breast and colon, and possibly of the uterus and the skin, and are likely to reduce the risk of postpartum depression, manic-depressive psychosis, dementias (Alzheimer's disease and others), hypertension, toxemia, diabetes and, to a certain extend, age-related macular degeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids could play a positive role in the prevention of menstrual syndrome and postmenopausal hot flushes. The normal western diet contains little ALA (less than 50% of the RDA). The only adequate sources are rapeseed oil (canola), walnuts and so-called "omega-3" eggs (similar to wild-type or Cretan eggs). The amounts of EPA and DHA in the diet vary greatly from person to person. The only good sources are fish and seafood, together with "omega-3" eggs.

PMID:
17254747
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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