Daily doses of omega-3s of at least 250 mg are required to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death and other heart conditions, a new review and meta-analysis says.
According to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, at least 250 mg of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (LCFA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), was associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death.
In addition, such doses were associated with a "near-significant" 17% decrease in the risk of "total fatal coronary events," according to a team of researchers from academia and industry.
"Thus, the intake of 250 mg omega-3 LCFA per day may, indeed, be a minimum target to be achieved by the general population for the promotion of cardiovascular health," wrote the authors led by Kathy Musa-Veloso from Cantox Health Sciences International.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded in 2009 that 250 mg should be the labeling reference intake value for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
In the U.S., the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans did not include specific EPA/DHA recommendations, but instead recommended consumption levels of seafood of 8-12 ounces per week, "which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA."
The new meta-analysis and review sought to test such recommendations. The reviewers identified eight prospective studies to include, and these indicated that consuming at least 250 mg was associated with a significant reduction in sudden cardiac death and near-significant reductions in the risk of total fatal coronary events.
"In several meta-analyses, which were based on U.S. studies, risk of [coronary heart disease] death was found to be dose-dependently reduced by the omega-3 LCFA, with further risk reductions observed with intakes in excess of 250 mg/d," the reviewers added.
Co-author of the paper, Harry Rice, PhD, said that the results "suggest that 250 mg/d EPA and DHA should be considered a minimum, not an optimum, level of consumption.
"Study after study, the cardioprotective benefits of EPA and DHA are demonstrated. In the interest of public health, the Institute of Medicine should assess the current data on health outcomes associated with the long-chain omega-3s.
"We are confident that the evidence would support a cardioprotective role for EPA and DHA," he added.
British Journal of Nutrition; Published online ahead of print.