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Nutrition

The guest lecture ‘The importance of omega-3 fatty acids in our body’ delivered by William S. Harris, a professor at the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota, was organised by the Department of Sports and Nutrition of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) and took place on 5 November.

Professor Harris has 39 years of research experience and has authored more than 250 publications on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the field of cardiovascular diseases.

On September 28 this year, Eurostat data for 2016 were published, which shows that Latvia ranks second in the EU countries in terms of mortality from CHD (4,000 cases per million inhabitants). In 2017, circulatory diseases were the cause of death in 55.7% cases. This is a very worrying trend, and so it is especially important to learn from the latest research and findings. This clearly shows the importance of sufficient omega-3 levels for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, during the prenatal period, for mental health and cognitive function.

During the lecture Prof. Harris spoke about the latest results of heart disease research ASCEND, VITAL and REDUCE-IT, European guidelines for the control of dyslipidaemia and substantiated the opinion that omega-3 reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The use of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is also very important – they reduce the risk of premature birth, affect the IQ level of the child and their neural development. A positive correlation was observed between omega-3 index and the total volume of the brain and the hippocampus. The atrophy of the hippocampus may, to a certain degree, indicate which patients with mild cognitive disorders will develop dementia in the future.

The lecture attracted a large audience – over 160 particiapnts. The audience took an active part in the subsequent discussion chaired by the lecturer Vija Neimane.