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IOM Report on Macronutrients Misses the Mark on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Washington DC, 5 September 2002

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) faulted a report released today on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for macronutrients as "missing the mark on its recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids." The report, issued by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), provided recommendations on ranges of fat, carbohydrate and protein intake.

Included among the fatty acid recommendations are some specific values for omega-3 fatty acids that are much lower than the levels found in clinical trials to be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease. According to Annette Dickinson, PhD, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN, "The new IOM recommendations do not provide an adequate target for increasing the intake of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, in order to help protect against heart disease."

Dr. Dickinson pointed out that the IOM's recommendations are even lower than the amount that would be obtained if people followed the American Heart Association's (AHA) recommendation to consume two fish meals per week for heart health.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from vegetable oils in the form of alpha-linolenic acid and from marine sources as EPA and DHA. The IOM establishes an Acceptable Intake level of 1.6 grams per day of alpha-linolenic acid for men and 1.1 grams for women, and suggests that "EPA and DHA can contribute up to 10 percent" of this total amount of omega-3 fatty acids. This establishes an unacceptably low target for intake of EPA and DHA of only 160 and 110 mg per day.

The new report recognizes that there is growing evidence that the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Eight separate mechanisms are outlined by which marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids benefit heart health. The report cites three controlled clinical trials that showed a heart benefit using 1.5 grams per day of fish oil, 1 gram of EPA, or 850 mg per day of combined EPA and DHA. Intakes in this range would represent a more reasonable target for the American population than the very low levels suggested by the IOM.

According to Dr. William E. Connor of the Oregon Health Sciences University, an internationally recognized expert on omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA "have immense public health significance for the control of the current coronary epidemic." (2001, Am J Clin Nutr 74:415)

For more information on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutritional supplements, a new report by CRN, The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements, is available on the CRN website.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) is one of the dietary supplement industry's trade associations representing ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices.


Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), via PR Newswire.end-of-story


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