Fish Oil and Diabetes: What is the Effect?

The Efficacy of fish oil on people with diabetes has raised and continues to raise questions for debate and further understanding. There are people identifying fish oil as a supplement that helps in managing triglyceride levels of patients with the type 2 diabetes. And there are others who are a little doubtful about the influences of fish oil in diabetes. So, fish oil and diabetes: what is the effect?

Fish oil is taken from the tissue of a fatty or oily kind of fish. Types of fatty fish that produce fish oil are salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and lake trout. Fish oil is famous for having Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the precursors of eicosanoids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). With the presence of Omega-3, the popularity of fish oil has increased especially because such fatty acids are able to offer numerous benefits that lead to physiological improvement.

According to a number of researches, fish oil aids in the reduction of risk of heart attack, regulation of cholesterol level in the body, lowering of blood pressure, and even prevention and treatment of several types of cancer. Other studies have also pointed out the relation of fish oil and mental health improvement. And along with this groundwork, researchers have also been trying to positively correlate fish oil and diabetes.

Many people have theorized and hoped that patients with diabetes will also benefit from the wonders of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. And like almost everything else, fish oil too, has its pros and cons. A study that was conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford has showed that fish oil promotes a raise in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol with higher doses of fish oil, and it lowers triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. This study has also observed no statistically significant outcome on the glycemic control (fasting blood glucose [FBG], HbA1c), total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Another study, conducted in Spain, focused on the effects of N-3 fatty acids on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. The study has reported that fish oil has been beneficial by effectively improving insulin sensitivity, protecting the body from type 2 diabetic mellitus and metabolic syndrome, and by showing signs of antiobesity. This study also pointed out that a fish oil diet is able to induce a significant decrease in the body’s insulin resistance and levels.

Other studies that involved fish oil supplements for people with diabetes, have exhibited a number of side effects during the treatment. These side effects are only common and they are the possible irritation that Omega-3 fatty acids cause to the digestive tract, signs of excess gas, frequent belching, heartburn, and also loose stools. A daily dose of more than 3 grams of fish oil also increases the risk of having bleeding complications. The probability of all these side effects occurring should push patients with diabetes in consulting with their physicians regarding the intake of fish oil.

Up until now, no study has ended the debate regarding the efficacy of fish oil on people with diabetes. Many studies are still conflicting; some are presenting the harmful effect of high doses of fish oil consumption while others are basically garnering no significant effect of fish oil, specifically harmful ones, on diabetes patients. And there are quite a few studies indicating signs of improvement in glucose metabolism. So when fish oil is taken moderately or in the right amount (according to a doctor or health professional), the list of its benefits is still longer than the list of its side effects. Just keep in mind that moderation is still the key, especially for diabetic patients, and getting advice from the doctor is still safest option.

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