Studies during the past two decades have linked omega-3 supplementation with many health benefits.

In addition to offering protection against heart disease and allergies, omega-3s have been shown to support skin, hair, brain and hormone health.

Now new research from Brazil shows just why it is beneficial in so many areas: it possesses the unique ability to prevent DNA damage in the body.

The study, conducted on adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13, was published in the journal Food & Function in April 2020.

The study demonstrated that children with higher levels of omega-3s in their blood had less DNA damage than those who had lower levels.

The modern diet problem

Researchers noted that in Brazil—as in other developed countries—diets have shifted to more processed foods with fewer micronutrients and higher levels of sugar, additives and processed fats.

In addition to omega-3 levels, the researchers also tested blood levels for Vitamin B12, beta-carotene and riboflavin; however, while the other nutrients have their own proven health benefits, only omega-3s were associated with reducing DNA damage.

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids characterized by the presence of a double bond three atoms away from the terminal methyl group in their chemical structure. Wikipedia states: “Omega-3s are widely distributed in nature, being important constituents of animal lipid metabolism, and they play an important role in the human diet and in human physiology.”

The inflammation fighter

So, how exactly do omega-3s protect DNA?

Using the technical jargon recorded by the researchers, it works this way: “Omega-3 EPA and DHA are substrates for the synthesis of pro-resolving mediators of inflammation that play a key role in the resolution and balance of the inflammatory process.”

A simplified way of stating it is that they protect against DNA damage by “mediating inflammatory pathways.”

Or even more simply: Omega-3s reduce inflammation.

Study methodology

Data collection for the study included body measurements, assessment of energy intake and blood sampling.

Researchers also used single-cell gel electrophoresis. Single-cell electrophoresis—also known as comet assay—is the most widely used method for evaluating DNA damage.

Since DNA damage is connected to a wide variety of chronic diseases—such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer—researchers believe assessing omega-3 status could be a way to proffer a protection plan early on. And, with researchers noting that the Brazilian study does corroborate earlier studies, future widespread adopting of omega-3 supplementing seems likely.

“Other studies have found similar associations regarding the effect of omega-3s on DNA damage,” the researchers wrote in their study paper.

“In one study, fish oil containing omega-3 EPA and DHA attenuated DNA damage in vascular endothelial cells. In another study, diabetic individuals showed a decrease in DNA damage after an intervention with vegetables and omega-3 rich oil intake, which was associated with increased levels of plasma antioxidants.”

Looking for a great omega-3 product?

Optimal EFA from Optimal Health Systems uses only plant-sourced essential fatty acids, avoiding the rancidity problems that are common with fish-based products.

Learn more about Optimal EFA here.

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Sources: Foods & Function, Nutra-IngredientsUSA.com, Wikipedia.