Omega-3 Awareness and Deficiency
Awareness of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids—docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—and their health benefits is strong across the EU, although much of the world’s population exhibits low levels according to a study published in the May 2016 issue of Progress in Lipid Research. The study’s mapping of countries and regions raises growing concern that low omega-3 status has become a global public health concern, as omega-3 deficiency is associated with several chronic diseases. A new study, published in Nutrients, compared data from populations in the United States and Germany and looked at the ‘perceptions people had of their diets and their awareness of the importance of these nutrients to what they were actually consuming’. More than half the subjects believed omega-3s are ‘beneficial for heart and brain health’ and could accurately identify food sources, however the mean omega-3 index in the US and Germany was 4.3 percent and 5.5 percent, putting the majority of the adults sampled—99 percent!—in intermediate or high cardiovascular disease risk categories. The optimum level is 8 percent, ‘which only one subject in the US and two in Germany achieved.’ Notably, ‘mean omega-3 index levels did not significantly differ with dietary perceptions of adequacy’—nearly all subjects were deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers noted without adequate fish consumption, individuals would ‘require dietary supplements or food fortification to achieve recommended intake’. This latest study highlights the ever-present market for omega-3 supplements and fortified products, with the market stable and ripe for growth.
Supporting Personalised Nutrition
As personalised nutrition continues to grow in Europe, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now apply online to receive up to €60,000 in financial aid to develop ‘innovative ideas, products and technology’ within the field of personal nutrition for the elderly. Supported by the EU Horizon 2020 program, a total of €2.8 million has been allocated for the project, and should kick start personalised nutrition for the senior category. INCluSilver is a three year project with a clever name, offering three types of vouchers: ‘ideas innovation’ to help relevant ideas to mature; ‘proposal innovation’ to support scalability and internationalisation; and ‘international property rights innovation’ to help with patents or consortium agreements. INCluSilver says it hopes this will ‘provide SMEs with access to know-how and technologies, while providing incentives for universities, research centres and private companies to collaborate’. An ageing European population provides an ample and growing market for personalised nutrition solutions to health concerns associated with ageing—with new funding opportunities, the time is now to expand into personalised nutrition.
As research continues to focus on the microbiome and how gut health influences all other areas, a new study has shown an interaction between gut bacteria and the circadian clock in the gut lining appears to control how much fat was absorbed and stored by mice. Conducted by researchers from University of Texas Southwestern, the microbiota was found to ‘regulate body composition via a transcription protein called nuclear factor interleukin-3 (NFIL3). The amount of NFIL3 present in the gut lining varies over the circadian cycle, and when levels were low, fat absorption was reduced—which may explain why shift workers and frequent long-haul travellers are more susceptible to certain metabolic diseases as their circadian clocks are disrupted.