Dietary guidelines seen as big win for supplements, step forward for omega-3s

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dietary guidelines seen as big win for supplements, step forward for omega-3s
The new dietary guidelines release by the US Department of Health and Human Services are seen as a win for the concept of supplementation, and helped boost the fortunes of specific nutrients such as EPA and DHA.

Duffy MacKay, ND, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN, said his organization, “is pleased to see the Guidelines’ recognition of dietary supplements as having a role to play in achieving optimal nutrition.” 

McKay went on to say that “dietary supplements are supplements to, not substitutes for, a healthy diet. However, given the number of underconsumed nutrients in our population, dietary supplements are needed to fill in the nutrient gaps. We hope this influential roadmap for nutrition will help bring awareness to the real life need for supplementation.”

The 2015/2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans​ identified potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C as shortfall nutrients; that is, nutrients that are “consumed by many individuals in amounts below the Estimated Average Requirement or Adequate Intake levels.” ​More specifically, the Guidelines identified calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D as “nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health concerns,”​ and suggested supplementing with vitamin D, “especially when sunshine exposure is limited due to climate or the use of sunscreen.”

EPA/DHA out in cold

So the current formulation of the guidelines is big step up for the official recognition of the importance of dietary supplements, especially those supplying significant levels of essential nutrients. The issue for other important nutrients, specifically the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA is a little less clear cut. The Guidelines addressed EPA and DHA specifically in a section discussing targets for the consumption of seafood. Americans in general fall woefully short of what is considered healthful intake levels.

“It’s actually shocking how low our seafood consumption is compared to the rest of the world,” Adam ​Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), told NutraIngredients-USA.

fish_heart_omega3_cardiovascular
Image © iStockPhoto

According to the publication, “For the general population, consumption of about eight ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without preexisting CVD. Similarly, consumption by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding of at least eight ounces per week from seafood choices that are sources of DHA is associated with improved infant health outcomes.”​ 

While it was disappointing that the guidelines did not mention that these targets could be met with omega-3 supplements, Ismail said there was much to cheer in the latest version of the guidelines. HE said it’s worth noting that other than nutrients, such as sodium, associated with adverse health outcomes, EPA/DHA are the only nutrients to have a specific dietary target.  

“They did actually call out EPA and DHA fairly prominently so we were pretty happy about that,” ​Ismail told NutraIngredients-USA.

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