Fish oil supplements may help ward off type 2 diabetes

May 26, 2013 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Fish oil supplements may help ward off type 2 diabetes

Fish oil supplements modestly increase amounts of a hormone that is associated with lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study.

Fish oil supplements raise levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream. Adiponectin is an important hormone that has beneficial effects on metabolic processes like glucose regulation and the modulation of inflammation. In long-term human studies, higher levels of adiponectin are associated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Prior animal studies found fish oil increased circulating adiponectin, but whether similar effects apply in humans has not been established.  When researchers from Harvard School of Public Health reviewed evidence from existing randomized clinical trials, they found that fish oil supplementation caused modest increases in adiponectin in humans.

The meta-analysis reviewed and analyzed results from 14 randomized, controlled clinical trials. In total, 682 subjects were treated with fish oil, and 641 were given placebos. In those taking fish oil, adiponectin levels increased by 0.37 ug/mL. The results also suggested the effect of fish oil on adiponectin differed substantially across the trials, suggesting that fish oil supplementation may have stronger influence on adiponectin in some populations and weaker effects in others.

This is the first study to pool data from previous trials to suggest that fish oil consumption increases adiponectin in humans.

Although higher levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream have been linked to lower risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease, whether fish oil influences glucose metabolism and development of type 2 diabetes remains unclear. However, the researchers say these new findings suggest that higher intake of fish oil may moderately increase blood level of adiponectin, supporting potential benefits of fish oil on glucose control and fat cell metabolism.

Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, June 2013.

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