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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Keeping a Healthy Body Weight and Nutrient Adequacy

By Michael McBurney

Three new studies report that low omega-3 fatty acid levels and excessive body fat are contributors to inflammation and poor health.

Reinders and associates wanted to know if circulating long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) might induce loss of heart function. Using cross-sectional serum LC-PUFA data from 621 participants in the Hoorn Study and longitudinal data from another 336 participants (average age = 68.6y), they report that lower eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were associated with both lower left ventricular ejection volume (LVEF) and heart rate. These are findings of reduced heart rate were also reported in a meta-analysis by Mozaffarian et al (2005).

In their review, Gray and colleagues discuss the role of fat cells (adipocytes) on the production of different proteins (adipokines), including leptin and adiponectin. Adiponectin is negatively correlated with obesity and lower circulating levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. Leptin production is positively associated with obesity and higher circulating leptin levels are thought to contribute to cardiovascular disease. They report that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake reduces circulating adiponectin levels in a dose-dependent manner. Oral supplementation dosages ranged from 1 to 3.6 g omega-3 LC-PUFA and 465 to 1800 mg EPA daily. Based on figure 2, the effect of omega-3 fatty acids is greater in obese than lean individuals.

The third paper (del Mar Bibiloni et al, 2013) assesse biomarkers of inflammation and body mass in 219 adolescent girls (12-17y). As hypothesized, markers of subclinical inflammation (adiponectin and lectin) were significant predictors of body weight, measured by body mass index (BMI) and body fat distribution (WHtR). They measured food intake, rather than biological biomarkers of nutrient status, and found significant nutrient associations (omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins) with biomarkers of subclinical inflammation.

In conclusion, long-term subclinical inflammation is an important contributor to cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases. All three studies point to the importance of meeting nutrient requirements and maintaining a normal body weight for health.

Main Citations

Reinders I, van Ballegooijen AJ, Visser M, Elshorbagy AK, Refsum H, Henry RMA, Dekker JM, Nijpels G, Stehouwer CDA, Brouwer IA. Associations of serum n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with echocardiographic measures among older adults: the Hoorn Study. 2013 Eur J Clin Nutr doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.167

Gray B, Steyn F, Davies PSW, Vitetta L. Omega-3 fatty acids: a review of the effects on adiponectin and leptin and potential implications for obesity management. 2013 Eur J Clin Nutr doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.197

Del Mar Bibiloni M, Maffeis C, Llompart I, Pons A, Tur JA. Dietary factors associated with subclinical inflammation among girls. 2013 Eur J Clin Nutr doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.196

Other Citation

Mozaffarian D, Geelen A, Brouwer IA, Geleijnse JM, Zock PL, Katan MB. Effect of fish oil on heart rate in humans: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 2005 Circulation doi:1o.1161/circulationaha.105.556886