A new study out of the Netherlands found that EFAs from seafood were associated with lower risk of heart disease, improved immune function, health advantages in preterm infants, and even a lower risk of suicide. The findings were summarized in the December 2011 PUFA Newsletter for Health Professionals and the Fats of Life newsletter for consumers.

The study reported that healthy adults with the highest consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish had higher scores for two indicators of heart health - endothelial function (the ability of tiny blood arteries to respond and dilate in response to increased circulatory demand) and less inflammation - compared with those who did not eat fish.

Other research reported on the positive effects of DHA from fish on cognitive and brain cell function in animals with traumatic brain injury.

Then there was also this study: very low DHA levels in active-duty U.S. military personnel were associated with a 62 percent higher risk of suicide.

"In the brain study, findings suggest that dietary DHA counteracted many of the harmful effects of brain injury on learning, neuronal cell signaling, membrane integrity, synaptic function and oxidative stress," said Editor Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc. "The other study documented that low DHA status in military staff may contribute to diminished mental health and a higher risk of suicide."

Other research found positive connections between DHA levels in preterm infants and improved retinal health as well as reduced risk of lung disease and hay fever. One study monitored preterm infants given fish or soybean oil after birth for the development of retinal disease. Fewer of those fed fish oil needed laser treatment to correct their retinal disorder compared with those given soybean oil, which does not contain DHA. Another study reported that male preterm infants fed higher DHA than in standard formula were less likely to develop lung disease and hay fever compared with infants receiving the standard amount.

"These observations suggest that treatment of preterm infants with higher levels of DHA immediately after delivery may have beneficial effects on lung function and respiration, particularly in males," Nettleton noted. "The study supports the provision of DHA and other seafood omega-3s to preterm infants."

I take our ProOmega Fish Oil softgels, which are extremely pure.

ProOmega is made by Nordic Naturals, a Norwegian company that harvests small fish and anchovies from way high up in the Arctic.  They extract, examine, filter, and guarantee the purity of the oil down to one part per trillion! There may be other fish oils that are just as good, but I guarantee you that there are none better.

As far as eating fish, it is not something that I have any great interest in doing. I really don’t have a taste for it.  I might have it once or twice a year, but that’s about it. But if you happen to like it, then have it more often. Just make sure you get a really good fish, such as the Wild Pacific Salmon. However, even with that, I still think that unrefined plant foods should comprise the bulk of what you eat. High-protein diets, even when fish-based, are not a good idea.

A question often arises about the potential to rely on the alpha-linolenic acid from plants, such as flax seeds, as a substitute for the DHA and EPA of fish. That I would not rely on, and particularly because I am a man. For some reason, men, and particularly older men (which includes me) have practically zero ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. There are now algae supplements that contain DHA in a low dosage. For those who are adamant about avoiding the use of a fish product, that is what they should use. But, I can tell you that the Nordic Naturals fish oil that I take isn’t even fishy. It’s very pleasant to take.

But, one way or another, cover your need for long-chain essential fatty acids. Although they were not identified until the 1970s, they are crucial to your health and to everyone’s health.