Fish oil supplements may help reduce diabetes risk

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) shows that consuming fish oil supplements may lower the risk for diabetes and heart disease.


Fish oil supplements, also called omega-3 fatty acid capsules, 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.

The meta-analysis reviewed and analyzed results from 14 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. In total, 682 subjects were treated with fish oil, and 641 were given placebos—most commonly olive and sunflower oils. For those taking fish oil, adiponectin levels increased by 0.37 micrograms/microliters (µg/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. The findings quantify the potential impact of fish oil on adiponectin level, and highlight the need to further investigate populations that may particularly benefit from fish oil supplementation.

The researchers concluded that: “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, results from our study suggest that higher intake of fish oil may moderately increase blood level of adiponectin, and these results support potential benefits of fish oil consumption on glucose control and fat cell metabolism.”


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