Meta-analysis adds evidence to association of omega-3 supplementation with homocysteine reduction

Life Extension Featured Article

August 12, 2011

Meta-analysis adds evidence to association of omega-3 supplementation with homocysteine reduction

Meta-analysis adds evidence to association of omega-3 supplementation with homocysteine reduction

The outcome of a meta-analysis of 11 trials published in the September, 2011 issue of Nutrition uncovered a significant reduction in plasma homocysteine in association with greater intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids occur in high amounts in fish and fish oil, and are relatively deficient in Western diets.

Researchers in China pooled the results from 702 participants in randomized trials that compared the effects of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids to a placebo. Treatment periods ranged from 6 to 48 weeks, and doses varied between 0.2 and 6 grams per day.

The analysis confirmed a reduction in plasma homocysteine levels in association with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, with an average decrease of 1.59 micromoles per liter experienced by those who supplemented compared to those who received a placebo. The authors suggest modulation of gene expression of enzymes involved in the formation and metabolism of plasma homocysteine as a possible mechanism of action for omega-3.

"Our systematic review provides, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive assessment to date of the effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on plasma homocysteine," they write.

"This meta-analysis suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation can decrease the plasma homocysteine levels," they conclude. "Larger trials, including clinical endpoint trials, of longer duration are needed to establish the role and mechanisms of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in lowering plasma homocysteine."

Printer Friendly Save as PDF Email this Page View Archive Subscribe Today
Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Homocysteine reduction

Homocysteine is an amino acid that inflicts damage to the inner arterial lining (endothelium) and other cells of the body.

Life Extension has identified elevated homocysteine as one of 17 independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Clinical testing laboratories consider a homocysteine value between 5 to 15 µmol/L as healthy. The Life Extension Foundation believes that an upper limit of 15 µmol/L is too high for optimal health. Studies indicate that adults with homocysteine values =6.3 µmol/L are at increased risk of atherosclerosis (Homocysteine Studies Collaboration), heart attack and stroke (Broxmeyer 2004).

A growing body of research on marine lipids, rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), reveals that omega-3 rich fish oil supplementation can reduce elevated homocysteine levels:

  • A 2010 animal model study examined the effect of fish oil rich in omega-3 PUFAs on homocysteine metabolism. Three groups of randomly divided rats were fed olive oil, tuna oil, or salmon oil for 8 weeks. The level of plasma homocysteine was significantly decreased only in the group fed tuna oil, rich in omega-3 PUFAs. It is not clear why the salmon oil did not reduce homocysteine as it too is rich in omega-3 PUFAs (Huang 2010).
  • A 2009 randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted on 81 patients with type 2 diabetes assigned each patient either three capsules of omega-3 fatty acids (3g) or a placebo every day for a period of 2 months. Homocysteine levels in the treatment group declined as much as 3.10 µmol/L; glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C, a measure of long-term sugar levels in the blood) decreased in the treatment group and increased in the control group (Pooya 2010).

Life Extension Magazine® August, 2011 Issue Now Online!

Life Extension Magazine August, 2011

Featured Products

Water-Soluble Pumpkin Seed Extract

add to cart

Aging individuals frequently encounter a weakening of the bladder and its sphincter muscle that controls the release of urine.

The pumpkin seed has a long history of use in helping to maintain healthy bladder function. Japanese scientists have patented a method to obtain the water-soluble constituents of the pumpkin seed, which are absorbed far more efficiently into the bloodstream. These water-soluble pumpkin seed extracts appear to be the active constituents to help with the urinary discomforts endured by so many maturing women and men.

Immune Protect with Paractin®

add to cart

Featured Video
Immune Protect with PARACTIN® contains a combination of patented ingredients that have been clinically shown to boost immune function, increasing the body's natural ability to combat challenges. Immune Protect with PARACTIN® provides 100 milligrams of a proprietary, patented form of beta-glucan that has been shown to activate the host immune system's primary defenders by activating complementary systems, and enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function. The immune cell-priming capabilities of this patented, highly purified yeast derivative exceed those of all other sources of immune supplements tested to date.

News Archive

Life Extension Update

What's Hot

Life Extension® Magazine

PARACTIN® is a registered trademark of HP Ingredients.

If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, send them to or call 1-800-678-8989.
Sign up for Life Extension Update

For Customer Service inquiries, please email or call 1 800 678 8989.

For copyright permission, please refer to Life Extension copyright policy.