This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.
Omega 3 Fish Oil and Blood Pressure
Variations in blood pressure levels occur throughout the day in healthy individuals. Blood pressure is a measure of how the cardiovascular system compensates to handle the circulatory demands of the body. It’s a mechanism used by the body to ensure adequate flow of nutrients and oxygen to the peripheral organs and tissues. As we age, however, a number of factors can affect the ability of the cardiovascular system to maintain healthy circulation and blood pressure levels. A major factor is the health of the arteries and veins, and their ability to expand and contract with changes in heart rate and circulatory flow. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA support the health of arteries and veins by maintaining their ability to expand and contract – also known as compliance. Since these fats are incorporated into the cells that make up the linings of blood vessels, they support the healthy function of these vessels and their compliance. Given this ability, it is not surprising that optimal intake of these fatty acids may promote the maintenance of blood pressure levels already within the normal range. Several studies suggest that EPA and DHA do just that. A study published in the journal Circulation showed that dietary supplementation with fish oils (2000 mg of EPA plus 1200 mg of DHA) daily for 12 weeks helped otherwise generally healthy men and women maintain blood pressure levels in the normal range.10
Further research confirms the mechanism of fish oils that we talked about above – namely that they support the compliance of blood vessels. An article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that fish oils relax arterial smooth muscle, producing more flexible blood vessels that are better able to adapt to changing demands11, which can contribute to the maintenance of already normal, healthy levels of blood pressure.
Tomorrow’s topic: Omega 3 Fish Oil and Brain Health
10. Dallongeville J, Yarnell J, Ducimetiere P, Arveiler D, Ferrieres J, Montaye M, Luc G, Evans A, Bingham A, Hass B, Ruidavets JB, Amouyel P. Fish consumption is associated with lower heart rates. Circulation 2003;108:820-825.
11. Nestel P, Shige H, Pomeroy S, Cehun M, Abbey M, Raederstorff D. The n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid increase systemic arterial compliance in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:326-330.