Fish oil capsules might help in the fight against diabetes, according to new research.
A study has shown that the widely-used supplements, also known as omega 3 fatty acids, give a modest boost to levels of a hormone known as adiponectin in the bloodstream.
The hormone helps the body regulate glucose and control inflammation.
Long-term studies have also shown higher levels of adiponectin are associated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism analysed the findings from 14 clinical trials.
In the trials, 682 subjects were treated with fish oil, and 641 were given placebos - most commonly olive and sunflower oils.
The results showed that the effect of fish oil on adiponectin levels differed “substantially” across the trials, suggesting that the supplements could have a stronger influence on some populations and a weaker effect on others, according to the authors.
Study lead author Dr Jason Wu, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said: “By reviewing evidence from existing randomised clinical trials, we found that fish oil supplementation caused modest increases in adiponectin in the blood of humans.”
He added: “Although higher levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream have been linked to lower risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease, whether fish oil influences glucose metabolism and development of type 2 diabetes remains unclear.
“However, results from our study suggest that higher intake of fish oil may moderately increase blood level of adiponectin, and these results support potential benefits of fish oil consumption on glucose control and fat cell metabolism.”
Type 2 diabetes, which usually appears in people over the age of 40, develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
There are around 2.7 million people in the UK with diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, according to the charity Diabetes UK.
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