Fish Oil's Role in Managing Diabetes

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Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Fish oil, which contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, is powerful medicine for disorders ranging from heart disease and depression to arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

EPA is particularly beneficial for the cardiovascular system, as it discourages blood platelets from sticking together, relaxes the arteries, and lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

For years, people dealing with diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, were advised to avoid fish oil supplements, due to their presumably negative effects on the body’s ability to control blood sugar. However, a meta-analysis has put this myth to rest.

In this review of studies involving 823 patients with type 2 diabetes, fish oil supplementation at doses ranging from 3,000–8,000 mg per day had no harmful effect on short- or long-term ability to control blood sugar. Furthermore, the fish oils supplements significantly improved triglyceride levels.

More recent research found that women living with diabetes who took 3,000 mg of fish oil a day for two months had marked improvements in body fat and blood lipid levels. (This is key, in part due to the connection between diabetes and weight.) 

I’m not suggesting that fish oil is a cure for high blood sugar, but it can certainly play a role in managing diabetes. Everyone, regardless of health status, should take a minimum of 2 g of high-quality fish oil per day. If your cholesterol and triglycerides are high, consider increasing this to 4 or more grams daily. For these larger doses, look for liquid or concentrated fish oil supplements, as they beat taking handfuls of capsules.

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