DSM Nutritional Products has published a review and map of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) status of healthy adults around the world, saying that most people have low to very low levels, particularly of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

“Low levels of PUFAs in the bloodstream are associated with a high risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes,” said the Dutch supplier of ingredients to the feed, food, pharmaceutical and personal care industries.

DSM’s review of 298 studies was published in Progress in Lipid Research and identified which regions were more at risk of chronic illness.

“Regions classified as having very low EPA and DHA blood levels (<4%) included North, South and Central America; Central and Southern Europe; the Middle East; Southeast Asia; and Africa,” the company said.

“The Sea of Japan, Scandinavia and regions with indigenous populations or populations who have not adopted Westernised food habits were classified as having high status of EPA and DHA (>8%).”

“This paper highlights that a significant proportion of the population are at increased risk of chronic disease due to low omega-3 PUFA status,” said Dr Manfred Eggersdorfer, senior vice president, nutrition science and advocacy at DSM.

The findings and global map could be used when developing national and global guidelines regarding omega-3 intake,” DSM said.