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Fish Oil Helps Prevent Diabetes

Fish Oil Helps Prevent Diabetes

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Three months of daily supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) produced a "clinically significant" improvement in insulin sensitivity in overweight study participants, according to Dr. Yvonne Denkins, a nutrition researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Institute.

More than 9 out of 10 diabetics have the type 2 form of the disease, where the body's gradual failure to respond to insulin can cause blood sugar levels to rise to dangerous levels.

Previous population studies have suggested that fish oil might help protect against diabetes. "There were epidemiological studies on the Greenland Eskimos, a population of people that eat mainly whale blubber.

These are people that are overweight, that should be diabetic and have heart disease, but they do not. The scientists that studied them thought it was probably because of what they eat, and they found that it was the omega-3s."

In the study, researchers had 12 overweight men and women, aged 40 to 70, consume 1.8 grams of DHA at breakfast for 12 weeks. While none of the study participants had full-blown diabetes, they all suffered from insulin resistance -- a pre-diabetic condition in which the body fails to efficiently respond to insulin.

Using blood tests taken at the start and end of the study, the researchers assessed changes in each person's insulin resistance.

They saw a change in insulin sensitivity after 12 weeks of DHA supplementation. A full 70% of the study participants showed an improvement in insulin-related function, and in 50% it was a clinically significant change.

Annual Experimental Biology 2002 Conference New Orleans, LA April 21, 2002


This study only used DHA. I do not advocate use of isolated fish oils. I believe this could be problematic, especially at higher doses. EPA and DHA should ideally always be taken in a balanced dose.

The dose of DHA used in this study was 1.2 grams, since most capsules have 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA, so that would be 15 regular fish oil capsules a day.

I do believe the dosing here is correct. I am more fond of a specific weight formula of one 180 /120 mg EPA/DHA capsule for every ten pounds of body weight. So, for the average 150 pound person, 15 capsules a day is appropriate.

However, many diabetics are very heavy. So a 280 pound person would require 28 pills a day. It will also take some time for the fish oil to work. It is reasonable to expect a 3 month lag time to response.

Many people seem to have problems digesting fish oil capsules, as they burp them up or get nauseous. This is usually related to impaired gallbladder function. I have found many patients benefit by using a digestive enzyme that has lipase. If one has insurance coverage, there are prescription based enzymes that are available for a simple CO-pay My current favorite is Ultrase MT-20.

The EPA/DHA probably works by improving sensitivity of insulin receptors. Not only will this help for diabetes, but it will also help control your weight.
Additionally, of course, there are a variety of other major benefits for omega-3 oils. It seems they are just as important as restricting sugar and grains.

Related Articles:

Fish Oil Cuts Risk of Sudden Death
Cardiovascular Benefits of Omega-3 Fats
Prevention of Cardiac Arrhythmias by Omega-3 Fats
Fish Oil Cuts Risk of Sudden Death

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