Fish oils again under the spotlight

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As reported in our newly published Q2 2019 update, herbal & natural supplements are performing well, up 4.4% globally, thanks to a revival in sales in North America that is partly powered by a return to growth for fish oils & omega-3. This well-developed OTC subcategory generates close to US$2bn in global sales, and after two years of decline in 2015 and 2016, turnover has been rising slowly but surely in recent years. An article that appeared in the New York Times over the weekend, however, entitled Should I Take Fish Oil?, has the potential to halt these gains.

Describing the results of omega-3 studies so far as “inconclusive and inconsistent”, the article calls for further large-scale scientific trials, such as the recent VITAL study, which found that omega-3 supplements didn’t reduce the risk of major cardiac events in a usual-risk population, but did reduce the risk in a subset of people with low fish intake by 19%. The article also pointed to environmental concerns about the fish reduction industry, advocating for vegan and algae-based omega-3 supplements instead.

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The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and other industry bodies, like the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), are obviously concerned about this article and its ramifications for the fish oils market. One thing worth emphasising about the article is that it doesn’t discount the importance of omega-3 fatty acids as essential nutrients and it doesn’t change the current recommendations by authoritative sources who support intake of omega-3 fatty acids for maintaining overall health.

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should aim to consume eight or more ounces of seafood per week, especially fatty fish, however the reality is that the majority of people don’t manage to achieve this through their diet. For many consumers, especially those with a low fish intake, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements remains the most prudent choice to ensure the adequate levels needed for good health.

Only two weeks to go until Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections Executive Conferencetaking place in London on 14 November 2019! Nicholas will be joined by experts from companies including Bayer, Mundipharma and J&J to review key issues impacting our industry and ensure that you are Keeping Consumers in the Spotlight. Unable to join us? Watch Nicholas’ opening address live on the day here at 09:05 on 14 November. To experience the event in full, you can book your place or find out more by contacting jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com without delay.

Military Potential of Omega-3

A new study will determine if omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive processes in high-performing soldiers.

Military interest in omega-3 is not new; a 2014 edition of Military Medicine focused on the fatty acids as “nutritional armour”. The interest surrounding military use of omega-3 is mainly related to its reported indication of mood improvement, and possibly reducing suicide rates among serving and ex-military personnel. It is also believed that a faster recovery from traumatic brain injury and the improved reaction times of fighter pilots could also be other benefits found from consistent omega-3 use.

Furthering ongoing studies, a new study is set to officially determine whether omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive processes in high-performing soldiers. The Ranger Resilience and improved performance on Phospholipid bound Omega-3s (RRIPP-3) study will be conducted by the medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and will include second lieutenants entering the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course (IBOLC) and subsequent Ranger Training at Fort Benning.

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The purpose of the study is to investigate whether supplementation with krill oil concentrate can improve specific cognitive processes that underpin key elements of soldier performance, which may have a measurable impact on performance and mental health under psychophysiological stress of military officer training.

This will be an extension of a study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders which outlined that omega-3 could potentially help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is known to produce psychophysiological symptoms such as a pounding heart.

The study will overall seek to answer three questions:

  • Will treatment with krill oil concentrate containing the omega-3 HUFAs improve cognitive and psychiatric functioning during US Army Infantry Basic Office Leadership Course?
  • Will treatment with krill oil concentrate containing the omega-3 HUFAs improve the performance of officers during portions of the U.S Army Infantry Basic Office Leadership Course and Ranger Training?
  • Do the effects of the supplements continue once a person stops taking them? Are there any group differences in functioning observed two months after treatment is discontinued (i.e. after Ranger Training?)

Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections: FDA rulings in Medical Devices and Dietary Supplements

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Two areas we focus on in our latest OTC.NewDirections bulletin are new regulations for dietary supplements and medical devices. In Canada, quality assurance measures are being introduced for Natural Health Products, while across the border in the US, the FDA has issued guidance to help marketers distinguish between liquid dietary supplements and beverages.

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