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Trial finds improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in overweight diabetics given EPA

Trial finds improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in overweight diabetics given EPA

Tuesday, August 6, 2013. The results of a double-blinded trial published in the July 2013 issue of Singapore Medical Journal show positive effects for the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in overweight type 2 diabetics.

Mahmoud Djalali and his associates at Tehran University of Medical Sciences randomized 26 men and 41 women with diabetes to receive 2000 milligrams EPA or a corn oil placebo for twelve weeks. Blood samples collected before and after treatment were analyzed for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, a marker of long term glucose control), fasting plasma glucose and fasting serum insulin.

While plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum insulin levels had increased by 4%, 3% and 4% in the control group by the end of the study, they declined by 11%, 8% and 3%, respectively, in those who received EPA. Insulin resistance also improved among those who received EPA. The authors note that, in contrast with the findings of other studies with shorter durations, the current study's length could account for the improvement observed in HbA1c, which represents average glucose concentration over the previous months.

In their discussion of the findings, the authors remark that omega-3 fatty acids' anti-inflammatory property could be one mechanism involved in their ability to improve insulin resistance. They note that omega-3 increases the fluidity of skeletal muscle membrane, resulting in improved glucose uptake. Furthermore, genes associated with insulin resistance could be positively affected by omega-3 fatty acids. They recommend additional clinical studies to help further understand the beneficial mechanisms of EPA in type 2 diabetic patients.

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North Americans deficient in omega-3 fatty acids

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A presentation at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Expo, held in Chicago July 13-16, 2013, revealed a profound lack of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the standard North American diet, despite what is known of the fatty acids' benefits. Physicians and their patients are being made increasingly aware of the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention or reduction of inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease, among other conditions. However, the eating habits of most Americans still have a lot catching up to do.

Nutritional researcher Bruce J. Holub, PhD, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Guelph in Ontario, along with Alex Richardson, PhD, of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at the University of Oxford in England attribute the widespread omega-3 deficiency to diets that provide little in the way of fish or seafood, which are the best food sources of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The average North American diet provides 200 milligrams EPA and/or DHA per day, which falls short of the American Heart Association's recommendation of 500 milligrams per day for healthy adults and 900 milligrams per day (which can be provided by one omega-3 supplement) for those with cardiovascular disease. For children, Dr Richardson suggests 500 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids per day, and for pregnant women, he recommends one gram.

"Physical risks to children from a nutritionally poor diet are now acknowledged, but the damage being done to their behavior, their learning abilities and mood is not," he stated. "I applaud any attempts (to recommend and encourage supplements) in the diets of mothers and women of childbearing age. It's never too late."

Life Extension Magazine® August 2013 Issue Now Online!

Life Extension Magazine August, 2013

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