Ocean - The Secret of Planet Earth - Ocean, Health and Human Well-Being

Year: 2024

Extra Information

Duarte CM. Ocean, Health and Human Well-Being. InOcean-The Secret of Planet Earth 2024 May 7 (pp. 87-120). Cham: Springer International Publishing.


The ocean has been a source of well-being and health for mankind since ancient times. We have seen how the early use of seafood by our ancestors could have boosted the growth of the size of our brains and, to a large extent, the evolution of our species. The ingestion of seafood is not only a source of calories or protein but has important beneficial effects on human health, being a carrier of various components, such as Omega-3 fatty acid (docosahexaenoic acid) and essential trace elements, such as iodine, essential for our health. In fact, it has been stated that the importance of marine food does not lie in the calories or protein it provides, but mainly in the quality of the fatty acids we receive from it. Omega-3 fatty acid, produced by marine microorganisms, spreads through the marine food chain and is found in abundance in seafood. There are terrestrial vegetables with a high content of this fatty acid, such as acorns and some nuts (e.g. hazelnuts) although its bioavailability is higher when it is ingested in the form of seafood than when it is made from these agricultural products. The benefits of Omega-3 for human health are now so popularized that it is the subject of advertising campaigns, some of them ambiguous. For example, the reader will recall seeing animal products, such as eggs and dairy products, labelled as “enriched in Omega-3”. In most cases this enrichment involves nothing more than the use of fishmeal and fish oils in the formulation of livestock feed.