Student published in journal
IT’S A HUGE achievement – especially for someone so young.
University of the Sunshine Coast accelerated honours student and ex-Hervey Bay schoolgirl Karina Hamilton, 19, recently had her first scientific paper published in this month’s national journal Nutrition and Dietetics, after conducting an Australian-first study of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements.
“A lot of people take these dietary supplements but there was a gap in scientific knowledge, so it’s nice to find that what’s in the capsules is what’s on the label,” Ms Hamilton said.
The former Urangan State High School student had finished the research by 18 years of age, within a year of starting at USC, after receiving a $12,000 Renouf Family Scholarship for Academic Excellence in 2008 through the University of the Sunshine Coast Foundation.
“I am delighted by the publication of my paper, not only for my career but for the interest and health of Australians,” she said.
“Karina has achieved this as an undergraduate, which is a rare distinction,” USC biochemical pharmacology senior lecturer Fraser Russell said.
“The research was needed because omega-3 capsules are classed as low-risk complementary medicines, meaning they’re not individually assessed,” Ms Hamilton said.
“Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements may produce a range of health benefits that include heart protection, control of arthritis and reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
The research was funded by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which flew Karina to its head office in Canberra to present the findings to scientists.
After analysing 15 fish oil tablets and four flaxseed and evening primrose tablets from five manufacturers, Ms Hamilton’s research led her to the discovery that the manufacturers’ labelling claims about omega-3 concentrations matched the contents of the products.
At the moment Karina is examining the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on blood vessel function as research for her pending honours thesis.
A lot of people take these dietary supplements but there was a gap in scientific knowledge, so it’s nice to find that what’s in the capsules is what’s on the label.