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Omega-3 Benefits

Age-Related Benefits
Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, osteoporosis, strokes, and heart attacks. However, it is not clear if they are useful for preventing Alzheimer's disease or cancer.

How Does Omega-3 Work?

In addition to their basic role as essential nutritional components (necessary for normal growth and development), omega-3 fatty acids have many different effects in the body, including:
  • Inflammation -- Omega-3 fatty acids seem to decrease inflammation in the body by suppressing a specific enzyme (COX-2) and inflammatory chemicals such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). This is probably how omega-3 fatty acids work for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Triglycerides -- DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids may lower triglyceride levels by several different mechanisms.
  • Blood clotting and blood pressure -- Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the production of a chemical called thromboxane A2. This chemical causes blood platelets to stick together, which encourages blood clots. Because omega-3 fatty acids decrease thromboxane A2, they can "thin" the blood (perhaps preventing blood clots) and lower blood pressure.
These are just a few of the ways that researchers think omega-3 may work for a variety of conditions. As more studies are done, more information about how omega-3 fatty acids work will become available.

Omega-3 Use in Children

Omega-3 fatty acids in normal dietary amounts are safe and necessary for children. However, it is not known if omega-3 supplements are equally safe for children. Do not give your child an omega-3 fatty acid supplement without the approval of your child's healthcare provider.
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