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J Nutr. 1989 Apr;119(4):521-8.

Summary of the NATO advanced research workshop on dietary omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids: biological effects and nutritional essentiality.

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Division of Nutritional Sciences, International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation.


A number of human studies presented at the workshop indicate that the premature infant at birth is biochemically deficient in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in both the brain and liver phospholipids, and that DHA is essential for normal visual acuity. The amount of DHA necessary to maintain normal amounts of the liver and brain phospholipids postnatally is 11 mg/kg daily. Elderly patients on long-term gastric tube feedings and others on long-term intravenous fluids and on total parenteral nutrition are particularly prone to deficiencies of alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA. The amounts estimated to prevent deficiencies in the elderly are 800-1100 mg/d of alpha-linolenic acid and 300-400 mg/d of EPA and DHA combined. Preliminary data indicate that children with malnutrition and mucoviscidosis, women with toxemia, and elderly people have decreased amounts of DHA in plasma phospholipids. The omega 3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and, at high levels, lower cholesterol. The anti-aggregatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3 fatty acids have been confirmed, and a dose-response curve is emerging. Despite the increase in bleeding time, no clinical evidence of bleeding has been noted by the investigators in any of the studies. Clinical trials are necessary in order to precisely define the dose and mechanisms involved in defining the essentiality of omega 3 fatty acids in growth and development and their beneficial effects in coronary heart disease, hypertension, inflammation, arthritis, psoriasis, other autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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