Intended for healthcare professionals


Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 30 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:752

The need of Antioxidants in omega-3 supplementation

The findings and conclusions drawn from the analysis being contrary,
to general belief that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to
cardiovascular patients, naturally it has been severally criticized and
the validity of the conclusions questioned. I have read the numerous rapid
responses and one very vital point missed in these comments is about the
importance of antioxidants in omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

It has been suggested (1) that it might be possible to reduce the
extent of damage caused by free radicals through three dietary changes:
i) reducing energy intake (i.e., lowering the level of free radical
reactions arising in the course of normal metabolism,
ii) minimizing dietary components that increase the level of free radical
reactions (e.g., poly unsaturated fats), and
iii) supplement the diet with one or more free radical- reactions
inhibitors (antioxidants)

Both essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated,
and increase the free radical load on the body with its consequent harmful
effects on the body. Therefore it is very important to check the lipid
peroxidation, the chain reactions initiated by free radicals to reap the
beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids (2)

It has been noted by us and observed by others, that the oxidative
stress are usually high in patients and their omega-3 levels are lower
than the controls. Therefore the above strategy of combining antioxidants,
in omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, may be effective in the treatment
of CVD patients.

With respect to the clinical trials, following additional suggestions
can be made:
i) Just as the initial omega-3 and omega-6 levels are necessary to know in
the patients recruited, their oxidative stress levels, total antioxidant
capacity must also be ascertained.
ii) It is also important to provide good amount of antioxidants along with
omega-3 fatty acids to minimize its adverse effects.

1. Harold E. Seifried, Darrel E. Anderson, Barbara C.Sorkin and Rebecca
B.Costello., Free radicals: The Pros and Cons of Antioxidants, xecutive
Summary report, J Nutr. 134: 3143S-3163S, 2004.
2. Meena Arvindakshan, Madhav Ghate, Prabhakar K Ranjekar, Denise R Evans,
Sahebrao P Mahadik, Supplementation with a combination of omega-3 fatty
acids and antioxidants ( vitamin E and C) improves the outcome of
schizophrenia, Schizophrenia Research, 62, 195-204, 2003.

Competing interests:
We at Interactive Research School for Health Affairs(IRSHA) Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical college Campus Pune 411043, India, are investigating i)the role of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in the desease outcome, ii) Enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids, in egg, fish and milk,and iii) Flax agriculture for human health and IQ.

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 June 2006
Mahabaleshwar V Hegde
Scientific Advisor
Ulhas Wagh,
IRSHA, Bharati Vidyapeeth medical College Campus Pune 411043, India