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Minerva Pediatr. 2008 Aug;60(4):443-55.

[Omega-3: from cod-liver oil to nutrigenomics].

[Article in Italian]

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Pediatria e Neonatologia, Azienda Ospedaliera Specializzata Materno Infantile ''G. Salesi'', Ancona, Italia. caramiagm@libero.it

Abstract

The leading role of cod-liver oil on rickets was a relevant factor in the knowledge of this disease. In 1922 the preventive and therapeutic value of cod-liver oil and sunlight against rickets in young infants was confirmed. The seasonal variation in the incidence of rickets, the role of skin pigmentation, of diet and the fact that breast milk was not an adequate source of vitamin D were understood. The discovery of essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 have shown that deficiencies, mainly of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, result in visual and cognitive impairment and disturbances in mental functions in infants and also in cognitive function in adults, as fatty acids are beneficial to vascular health and may forestall cerebrovascular disease and thus dementia. An adequate ratio of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids may promote a healthier balance of eicosanoids, which would protect membrane function with a nutraceutical function. Dietary lipids not only influence the biophysical state of the cell membranes but, via direct and indirect routes, they also act on multiple pathways including signalling, gene and protein activities, protein modifications and they probably play important role in modulating protein aggregation. Significant advances have been made in understanding the relation between dietary factors and inflammation, which is a central component of many chronic diseases, including coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer prevention. However, the identification of those who will or will not benefit from dietary intervention strategies remains a major obstacle. Adequate knowledge about how the responses depend on an individual's genetic background (nutrigenetic effects), the cumulative effects of food components on genetic expression profiles through nutrigenomics mechanism, may assist in identifying responders and non-responders. Thus, fish and fish oil consumption might encourage brain development and gene expression to brain maintenance during aging through nutrigenomic mechanism.

PMID:
18511896
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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