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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

More Benefits Emerge for Liver Disease, Diabetes from DHA in Fish Oil's Omega-3 Fatty Acids

DHA used at levels that prescribed to reduce blood triglycerides appeared to have many unanticipated healthy effects

Jan. 23, 2014 - A study of the metabolic effects of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, concludes that these compounds from fish oil may have an even wider range of biological impacts than previously considered, and suggests they could be of significant value in the prevention of fatty liver disease. One study suggested that DHA may also reduce the formation of harmful glucose metabolites linked to diabetic complications.

The research, done by scientists at Oregon State University and several other institutions, was one of the first of its type to use “metabolomics,” an analysis of metabolites that reflect the many biological effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the liver. It also explored the challenges this organ faces from the “Western diet” that increasingly is linked to liver inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis and sometimes liver failure.

The results were surprising, researchers say.

Supplements of DHA, used at levels that are sometimes prescribed to reduce blood triglycerides, appeared to have many unanticipated effects. There were observable changes in vitamin and carbohydrate metabolism, protein and amino acid function, as well as lipid metabolism.

Supplementation with DHA partially or totally prevented metabolic damage through those pathways often linked to the Western diet – excessive consumption of red meat, sugar, saturated fat and processed grains.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Could Lead to Negative Health Effects If Taken in Excess

Studies have found Omega-3s are associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular disease outcomes

Oct. 28, 2013

Eating Fish, Nuts for Omega-3 May Not Help Improve Thinking Skills for Older Women After All

Unfortunately study did not find a protective effect in older women; most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect,

Sept. 25, 2013

Senior Citizens Live Years Longer by Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Fish

Risk of dying from heart disease significantly lowered: Seniors with highest blood levels of the fatty acids lived 2.2 years longer

April 2, 2013

Seniors See 35% Reduction in Cardiovascular Death Risk from Eating Heart Healthy Diet

AHA Heart Healthy diet offers significant protection for older people with cardiovascular problems from recurring attacks

Dec. 6, 2012

Fish Oil Helps Heal Bed Sores of the Critically Ill

Tel Aviv University research finds a 20-25 percent reduction in pressure ulcers with a fish oil enriched diet; maybe it has a role in general pain management, too

Dec. 4, 2012

More links to archived reports on fish oil below news story.


Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements

 

The findings were published last month in PLOS One, an online professional journal.

“We were shocked to find so many biological pathways being affected by omega-3 fatty acids,” said Donald Jump, a professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “Most studies on these nutrients find effects on lipid metabolism and inflammation.

“Our metabolomics analysis indicates that the effects of omega-3 fatty acids extend beyond that, and include carbohydrate, amino acid and vitamin metabolism,” he added.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of much recent research, often with conflicting results and claims. Possible reasons for contradictory findings, OSU researchers say, are the amount of supplements used and the relative abundance of two common omega-3s – DHA and EPA.

About Omega-3 Fatty Acids and DHA

The three principal omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA.

 The main sources of ALA in the U.S. diet are vegetable oils, particularly canola and soybean oils; flaxseed oil is richer in ALA than soybean and canola oils but is not commonly consumed. ALA can be converted, usually in small amounts, into EPA and DHA in the body. EPA and DHA are found in seafood, including fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters).

Commonly used dietary supplements that contain omega-3s include fish oil (which provides EPA and DHA) and flaxseed oil (which provides ALA). Algae oils are a vegetarian source of DHA.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a number of bodily functions, including muscle activity, blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell division and growth.

DHA is important for brain development and function.

ALA is an "essential" fatty acid, meaning that people must obtain it from food or supplements because the human body cannot manufacture it.

>> National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Studies at OSU have concluded that DHA has far more ability than EPA to prevent the formation of harmful metabolites. In one study, it was found that DHA supplementation reduced the proteins involved in liver fibrosis by more than 65 percent.

These research efforts, done with laboratory animals, used a level of DHA supplementation that would equate to about 2-4 grams per day for an average person. In the diet, the most common source of DHA is fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel or sardines.

The most recent research is beginning to break down the specific processes by which these metabolic changes take place. If anything, the results suggest that DHA may have even more health value than previously thought.

“A lot of work has been done on fatty liver disease, and we are just beginning to explore the potential for DHA in preventing or slowing disease progression,” said Jump, who is also a principal investigator in OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute.

“Fish oils, a common supplement used to provide omega-3, are also not prescribed to regulate blood glucose levels in diabetic patients,” he said. “But our studies suggest that DHA may reduce the formation of harmful glucose metabolites linked to diabetic complications.”

Both diabetes and liver disease are increasing steadily in the United States.

The American Liver Foundation has estimated that about 25 percent of the nation’s population, and 75 percent of those who are obese, have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, cirrhosis and cancer.

This study established that the main target of DHA in the liver is the control of inflammation, oxidative stress and fibrosis, which are the characteristics of more progressively serious liver problems. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to keep cells from responding to and being damaged by whatever is causing inflammation.

Collaborators on this research were from OSU, the Baylor College of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Metabolon, Inc. It was supported by the USDA and the National Institutes of Health.

More Links to Archived Stories about Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Oily Fish Weekly Defends Against Stroke; Supplements Less Effective

Results from use of long chain omega 3 fatty acid came from 38 studies involving nearly 800,000 individuals in 15 countries

Oct. 31, 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Does Not  Lower Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events

‘Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice’ for cardiovascular protection, says large review of published studies

Sept. 11, 2011

Cognitive Decline in Seniors Not Slowed by Omega-3 Fish Oil in Short Term

But researchers say longer term effects of omega-3 on cognitive decline and dementia need to be explored; urge seniors continue eating fish regularly

July 10, 2012

Seniors May Find Relief for Spine Damage with Omega-3, Curry Spice Diet

Diet minimized disease-related changes and repaired damage to the spinal cord of UCLA lab rats – preserved walking - June 26, 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Fish Oil Lowers Inflammation in Overweight Older People

New study adds another check mark for fish oil as an effective defender against illness

June 20, 2012

Aging Brains May Stay Sharp, Avoid Shrinkage, Alzheimer's with Proper Diet

Good choices Bs, C, D, E & omega 3; also diets high in trans fats more likely to produce brain shrinkage, lower scores on thinking, memory

Jan. 4, 2012

Eating Baked, Broiled Fish Wards Off Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior citizens  nearing danger zone of cognitive problems should eat fish weekly

Dec. 6, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements Appear to Help Older People Think Better, Save Brains

There was clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume

Aug. 17, 2011

Omega-3 Fish Oil Does Not Slow Cognitive or Functional Decline in Alzheimer's Disease

New study indicates DHA supplement not useful for those with mild to moderate AD - watch JAMA video - Nov. 3, 2010


My Aching Knees Seemed to Be Cured by Omega-3, New Study Says It May Be True

UK researchers find omega-3 fatty acids slow down osteoarthritis, at least in guinea pigs; I think it worked for me!

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Oct. 17, 2011 – As an active – well very active – tennis player for many years, when I turned 70 I was worried my playing days might end due to my aching knees. I never took the court without wearing the latest in knee protection devices. Then, shortly after I increased my daily regimen of fish oil pills, the knee pain disappeared. I was convinced my joints were now better “oiled.” New research says there may be something to this. Read more...


Related Archive Stories

A number of studies have now linked Omega-3 with reducing the risk of AMD - major cause of blindness in senior citizens

Women Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Fish, Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Women who ate the most fish did the best at reducing the risk of this leading cause of blindness in senior citizens - March 15, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements Appear to Help Older People Think Better, Save Brains

There was clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume

Aug. 17, 2011


High Level of Omega-3 in Blood of Older Men Hikes Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Study leader says beneficial effects of eating fish to prevent heart disease still outweigh any harm related to prostate cancer risk - April 25, 2011


Women Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Fish, Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Women who ate the most fish did the best at reducing the risk of this leading cause of blindness in senior citizens

March 15, 2011

 

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