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Am Heart J. 2006 Mar;151(3):564-70.

Understanding omega-3's.

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Division of General Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


Omega-3 fatty acids are a subset of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in marine sources as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and in some leafy vegetables, nuts, and oils as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The metabolism of omega-3's may explain the cardioprotective effects observed in epidemiologic and experimental studies. Although most data for cardioprotective effects come from studies of marine sources, vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) may have similar effects through in vivo conversion to eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. This document will provide an overview of omega-3 fatty acids with a focus on specific sources, metabolism, safety issues, and their potential indication for cardiovascular prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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