Current Clinical Applications of Ω-6 and Ω-3 Fatty Acids

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Abstract

Background:

Recent years have brought a resurgence of research interest in fatty acids, with studied fields running the gamut of human disease. This movement has run in parallel with an increased interest in using nutrition modalities as therapeutic measures, as opposed to their conventional role as energy sources. The aim of this manuscript is to provide a basic review of current clinical applications of ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids, with a particular focus on the latter.

Methods:

A selective review of the voluminous literature, including randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, population studies, and case reports, was used to compile data and identify trends in pertinent clinical applications of fatty acid therapy.

Conclusions:

There are a myriad of disorders and maladies that seem to benefit from fatty acid supplementation, specifically ω-3 fatty acids. It has clearly been shown that ω-3 fatty acid supplementation provides a protective benefit in heart disease, and in particular sudden cardiac death. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another disease entity that has been proven to benefit from this nutrition intervention, with improvement in symptoms and diminished nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) usage. In addition, many psychiatric disorders, particularly schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (MDD), have shown positive results when supplementation has been used as an adjunct to standard pharmacotherapy. The remainder of clinical applications for ω-3 fatty acids requires further investigation. Specifically, according to preliminary clinical evidence, parenteral administration of fatty acids warrants further study.

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