Omega-3s again show their worth in new studies

October 9, 2018

Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the September 2018 issue of the journal Medicine suggest that supplementing with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may have a beneficial effect on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in humans.

"Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a histological spectrum that ranges from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer and is projected to be the principal factor for liver transplantation by 2020," write Jian-Hui Yan and colleagues at Fujian Medical University. "NAFLD is more prevalent in patients with metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus and is recognized as the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome."

For their review, Dr. Yan and associates selected 18 controlled clinical trials that investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on liver fat or markers of liver function among a total of 1,424 participants with NAFLD. Meta-analysis of the seven studies that reported data on liver fat content found that subjects who received omega-3 fatty acid supplements were more likely to experience improvement than control subjects who received a placebo or no treatment. Among studies that provided data concerning serum levels of the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) — which are elevated in those with NAFLD — greater improvement was observed in association with omega-3 supplementation compared to the controls. Furthermore, improvements in insulin resistance and glucose and triglyceride levels were greater in omega-3 fatty acid–supplemented participants. “Omega-3 PUFA supplementation may improve metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors and surrogate makers for liver disease progression,” the authors conclude.

In other recent research, which appeared in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry, treatment with omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a decrease in periodontal inflammation. A double-blind trial that included 50 postmenopausal women treated for chronic periodontitis revealed that six months of twice-daily supplementation with capsules that each contained 300 milligrams of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA plus 200 milligrams of the omega-3 DHA was associated with a greater reduction in average probing periodontal pocket depth and a larger increase in superoxide dismutase (SOD, which is one of the body’s self-produced antioxidant enzymes) compared to a control.

These studies are just two of many that continue to demonstrate positive effects in association with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for a number of health conditions. The findings contribute to a large body of research that supports the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in human health.


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