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.