A Brief History of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Although omega-3 fatty acids have been known as essential to normal growth and health since the 1930s, awareness of their health benefits has dramatically increased since the 1990s.The health benefits of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids — primarily EPA and DHA are the best known. These benefits were discovered in the 1970s by researchers studying a tribe known as the Greenland Inuit. The Greenland Inuit people consumed large amounts of fat from fish, but displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease. The high level of omega-3 fatty acids consumed by the Inuit reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.

On September 8, 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave "qualified health claim" status to EPA and DHA n-3 fatty acids, stating that "supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This updated and modified their health risk advice letter of 2001.

As of this writing, regulatory agencies do not accept that there is sufficient evidence for any of the suggested benefits of DHA and EPA other than for cardiovascular health, and further claims should be treated with caution. The Canadian Government has recognised the importance of DHA omega-3 and permits the following biological role claim for DHA: "DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, supports the normal development of the brain, eyes and nerves.