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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


More Evidence that EPA+DHA Affect Blood Pressure

By Michael McBurney

Did you know 32.5% of American adults >20y have high blood pressure and/or are taking antihypertensive medications? That is the most recent data from CDC. In fact, hypertension accounts for 38.9 million visits to the offices of U.S. physician annually. Wouldn’t it be great if these numbers could be reduced?

Minihane and colleagues  report daily doses of EPA+DHA, as low as 0.7g, can have clinically meaningful reductions in blood pressure. Using a retrospective analysis of the FINGEN study which randomized 177 adults with hypertension to one of 3 treatments of 8 week duration in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response, crossover study with 12 week washouts, they report plasma phosphotidyl choline EPA+DHA concentrations increased from ~6.0% to 9.1% and 10.6% with 0.7g and 1.8g fish oil daily, respectively.

The authors write, “Our main finding is that intakes of EPA+DHA, achievable through the consumption of 2-3 portions of oily fish/wk, or 2 fish oil capsules/d, reduced systolic blood pressure by 5 mm mercury (Hg) in those with systolic hypertension.”  They propose 0.3g EPA and 0.4g DHA (0.7 g EPA+DHA) could help a large number of adults with high blood pressure.

An omega-3 index, % of fatty acids composed of EPA+DHA, below 4% has been linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk with an omega-3 index of 8% being cardioprotective target. Most Americans have whole blood EPA+DHA concentrations below 4%.  In Saudi Arabian men and women, the average omega-3 index is 3.9%.

Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids increase linearly, in all compartments – whole blood, red blood cells, and plasma phospholipids – as EPA+DHA intake increases up to 1g/day. Increasing EPA+DHA intake above 1g/d continues to raise circulating EPA+DHA concentrations but the intake-circulating concentrations becomes curvilinear (Figure 5).

In conclusion, the Journal of Nutrition study finds that increased  consumption of fish oil, as little as 0.3g EPA + 0.4g DHA daily, increases circulating omega-3 concentrations to affect arterial function and blood pressure.

Main Citation

Minihane AM, Armah CK, Miles EA, Madden JM, Clark AB, Caslake MJ, Packard CJ, Kofler BM, Lietz G, Curtis PJ, Mathers JC, Williams CM, Calder PC. Consumption of fish oil providing amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docashexaenoic acid that can be obtained from the diet reduces blood pressure in adults with systolic hypertension: A retrospective analysis. 2016 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.115.220475

Other Citations

National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2014: With Special Features on Adults Aged 55-64. Hyattsville, MD. 2015.

Harris WS. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: A case for omega-3 index as a new risk factor. 2007 Pharmacol Res doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2007.01.013

Murphy RA, Yu EA, Ciappio ED, Mehta S, McBurney MI. Suboptimal plasma long chain n-3 concentrations are common among adults in the United States, NHANES 2003-2004. 2015 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu7125534

Bassam T, Superko HR, Caulfield M. Cardiovascular disease risk attributed to blood fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) levels differ significantly in Saudi men and women. 2015 J Saudi Heart Assoc doi: 10.1016/j.jsha.2015.05.202

Patterson AC, Chalil A, Henao JJA, Streit IT, Stark KD. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid blood biomarkers increase linearly in men and women after tightly controlled intakes of 0.25, 0.5, and 1 g/d of EPA+DHA. 2015 Nutr Res doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.09.016

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