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Video: Scientists: Omega-3 Acids Are Not Enough For Everyone
Scientists: Omega-3 acids are not enough for everyone
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of our diet. Scientists have found that today it is very difficult to meet the human need for them. The number of fish is decreasing and the population is increasing.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of our diet. Scientists have found that today it is very difficult to meet the human need for them. The new research report has been published in Nature Food.
Everyone knows fish is healthy, also because it contains moega-3 fatty acids. But the decline in fish stocks and the increase in population mean that many people may not be getting enough of them.
The study focused on two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), as the rest of the acids can be obtained from plant sources.
“When we looked at how EPA and DHA are produced and consumed by humans and in the ocean, we found that 70% of the world's population is not getting the required dose. It can have long-term health effects,”said Helen Hamilton, co-author of the study.
Scientists have found that 63% of all fish stocks are considered fully fished, and fisheries around the world are under pressure and need to be rebuilt. This greatly reduces the likelihood that enough fish can now be caught to meet people's need for omega-3 fatty acids.
“We cannot catch more fish in the ocean. This means that we really need to optimize what we have or open up new sources,”says Hamilton.
Scientists believe that fish stocks need to be treated with care: limiting catch and changing fishing gear to reduce unnecessary fish catch. But these are long-term solutions, they can lead to a temporary decrease in fish supply.
Farming fish can help deal with the problem. But it requires a sufficient amount of special feed, which contains feed meal and fish oil. The industry is forced to resort to plant-based feed. But the lack of omega-3 fatty acids in it leads to a decrease in their amount and in fish that are grown on farms.
On the positive side, fish farms also breed shellfish and carp, which do not require external sources of EPA and DHA. Another source of EPA and DHA is krill. It can be used to make fish food, but it is difficult and costly to catch in Antarctic waters.
Scientists also see a possible partial solution to the problem of lack of omega-3 fatty acids in a more rational use of all parts of the fish and the introduction of genetically modified algae and plants into the diet.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to combat omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, scientists say. “But we need to find a balance between healthy eating for people, a growing population and protecting the environment,” Hamilton said.
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