COVID-19 Supplements: Latest Study Validates That Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Protect Against Severe SARS-CoV-2 Infection
: A new study by researchers from the Fatty Acid Research Institute, Sioux Falls-USA, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls-USA and College of Nursing, University of Illinois–Chicago-USA
delved into the potential protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, in relation to contracting and/or experiencing negative outcomes from a COVID-19 infection.
The study analyzed the correlation between baseline plasma DHA levels and the risk of three potential COVID-19 outcomes: testing positive, hospitalization, and death.
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was utilized to measure the DHA levels (% of total fatty acids); however, for this analysis, the measurements were converted to Omega-3 Index (red blood cell EPA+DHA%). The UK Biobank prospective cohort study provided data on 110,584 subjects for three outcomes and relevant covariates (hospitalization and death), and 26,595 subjects who were ever-tested and had a positive COVID-19 PCR result. The assessment of COVID-19 outcomes occurred between January 2020 and March 2021.
In the models that were fully adjusted, individuals who were in quintile 5 (i.e., those with the highest Omega-3 Index levels) had a 21% lower probability of testing positive compared to those in quintile 1. Additionally, for every 1-SD increase in plasma DHA%, the risk of a positive test decreased by 8%. Similarly, those in quintile 5 had a 26% lower likelihood of being hospitalized compared to those in quintile 1, and for every 1-SD increase in DHA%, the risk of hospitalization decreased by 11%.
The risk of death due to COVID-19 decreased progressively through quintiles 1 to 4. However, in quintile 5, the risk reduction was partially weakened and did not reach statistical significance. The Omega-3 Index values estimated for the five quintiles of DHA varied from 3.5% (quintile 1) to 8% (quintile 5).
The researchers pointed out in their paper that these values align closely with the Omega-3 Index risk thresholds (which were first suggested in 2004 for cardiovascular disease mortality), specifically <4% (high risk) and >8% (low risk), indicating that these target levels are also relevant to COVID-19 outcomes.
The researchers emphasize that South Korea and Japan have reported very mild cases of COVID-19. Although measures such as wearing masks and social distancing likely played a role, it is worth noting that healthy individuals in these countries have significantly higher Omega-3 Index values, ranging from 8-12% in South Korea and 7-11% in Japan, compared to the 4-5% typically seen in Western populations like the United States due to high intake of COVID-19 Supplements
involving Omega-3 fatty acids and also Japanese diets rich in fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Vivar-Sierra et al. reported a global correlation between increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and reduced mortality rates associated with COVID-19. While the finding is only suggestive, the researchers suggest that it further reinforces the potential significance of EPA and DHA omega-3s in preventing fatal COVID-19.
Dr William S. Harris, President of the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), stated that the study validates earlier research indicating that low levels of omega-3 are linked to a higher likelihood of hospitalization due to COVID-19. Additionally, the study expands on these findings by demonstrating a lower risk of testing positive for the virus and providing evidence that the risk of mortality may also be decreased.
In addition, the study findings showed that Omega-3 Index levels of less than 4% and greater than 8% are correlated with the lowest and highest levels of protection against COVID-19, respectively.
The study findings suggest that increasing the intake of oily fish such as salmon or omega-3 fish oil supplements could serve as a possible strategy for reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The study validates all previous findings suggesting nutritional strategies to increase the circulating n-3 PUFA levels, such as increased consumption of oily fish and/or use of n-3 FA supplements, to reduce the risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes.
Dr Philip Calder, BSc (Hons), Ph.D., DPhil, RNutr, FSB, FAfN, a Professor of Nutritional Immunology within Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK, wrote an editorial accompanying this publication, said these findings suggest that consuming more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) should be encouraged as a strategy to reduce the impact of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and of future respiratory virus infection outbreaks. Dr. Calder,
He said, “In summary, using the large UK BioBank dataset, the study findings report that higher DHA status is associated with lower risk of testing positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2 and of being hospitalized with COVID-19. There is also an indication that higher DHA status is associated with reduced risk of mortality for COVID-19, although this effect was attenuated at the very highest status level. These findings suggest that consuming more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) should be encouraged as a strategy to reduce the impact of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and of future respiratory virus infection outbreaks. Increased intake of EPA and DHA can be achieved through consumption of fatty fish or use of supplements containing EPA and DHA.
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