Understanding omega-3's.Am Heart J. 2006 Mar; 151(3):564-70.AH
Omega-3 fatty acids are a subset of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in marine sources as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and in some leafy vegetables, nuts, and oils as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The metabolism of omega-3's may explain the cardioprotective effects observed in epidemiologic and experimental studies. Although most data for cardioprotective effects come from studies of marine sources, vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) may have similar effects through in vivo conversion to eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. This document will provide an overview of omega-3 fatty acids with a focus on specific sources, metabolism, safety issues, and their potential indication for cardiovascular prevention.