Omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3 FAs) are essential fatty acids with diverse biological effects in human health and disease. Reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is a well-established benefit of their intake. Dietary supplementation may also benefit patients with dyslipidaemia, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, obesity, inflammatory diseases, neurological/ neuropsychiatric disorders and eye diseases. Consumption of ω-3 FAs during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth and improves intellectual development of the fetus. Fish, fish oils and some vegetable oils are rich sources of ω-3 FAs. According to the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition guidelines (2004), a healthy adult should consume a minimum of two portions of fish a week to obtain the health benefit. This review outlines the health implications, dietary sources, deficiency states and recommended allowances of ω-3 FAs in relation to human nutrition.
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Competing interests: None.
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