Science 2 min read

Fish Oil Supplements Have No Effect On Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief that fish oil supplements can prevent or treat type 2 diabetes, a recent study revealed that it's not true at all.

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

There’s a widespread belief that omega-3 fats, found in fish and fish oil, can prevent or even reverse diabetes. So, health professionals and websites alike promote the intake of fish oil supplements to cut diabetes risk.

The belief is based on several past studies supporting the said claim. In a paper published by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health last 2013, they hypothesized that consuming the supplement can increase the blood insulin, which in turn reduces the risk of diabetes.

However, a recently published paper in the British Medical Journal suggests otherwise.

In a systematic review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), researchers discovered that omega-3 supplements do not affect type 2 diabetes.

Lead author Dr. Lee Hooper, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said:

“Our previous research has shown that long-chain omega-3 supplements, including fish oils, do not protect against conditions such as heart disease, stroke or death. This review shows that they do not prevent or treat diabetes either.”

How Fish Oil Supplements Have No Effect On Type 2 Diabetes

For the study, the researchers subjected over 58,000 participants in a randomized, long term trial. Four percent of the participants who had diabetes were given long-chained omega-3 fats, consistently.

After three months, the participants who had consumed additional fish oils had the same risk of diabetes diagnosis as the control group who did not take more. In fact, fish oils do not affect any of the factors related to diabetes risk, whether it’s the blood glucose, insulin, or glycated hemoglobin.

However, they noticed that high doses of long-chain omega-3 fats, that’s over 4.4 grams per day, may lead to worsening glucose metabolism.

Dr. Lee Hooper noted:

“Omega-3 supplements should not be encouraged for diabetes prevention or treatment. If people do choose to take supplementary fish oil capsules to treat or prevent diabetes, or to reduce levels of triglycerides in their blood, then they should use doses of less than 4.4 grams per day to avoid possible negative outcomes.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2015. Also, most people with diabetes – about 90 to 95 percent – in the U.S.  have Type 2 diabetes. 

Read More: Researchers Find Possible Diabetes Cure Using Human Stem Cells

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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