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Fish Oil Supplements May Help Prevent Diabetes

Update Date: May 22, 2013 01:29 PM EDT

Fish oil supplements may help fight off diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers found that fish oil supplements helped boost levels of a hormone associated with lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) revealed that fish oil supplements or omega 3 fatty acid capsules help raise levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream. Adiponectin is an important hormone that has beneficial effects on metabolic processes like glucose regulation and modulation of inflammation.

Previous studies have linked higher levels of adiponectin to lower risks of type 3 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

"While prior animal studies found fish oil increased circulating adiponectin, whether similar effects apply in humans is not established," lead author, Jason Wu, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a news release.

"By reviewing evidence from existing randomized clinical trials, we found that fish oil supplementation caused modest increases in adiponectin in the blood of humans," he added.

The latest study, also published in the journal Circulation, included data from 14 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.  A total 682 participants were treated with fish oil and 641 were given placebo.  Researchers found that taking fish oil lead to an increase of 0.37 ug/mL in adiponectin levels.  However, researchers noted that the latest analysis also suggested that the effect of fish oil on adiponectin differed across studies.  Researchers said this variation suggests that fish oil supplementation may have stronger influence on adiponectin in some populations and weaker effects in others.

"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," said Wu.

"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," he added.

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