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Posted on Jul 11, 2012, 6 a.m.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can lower inflammation in healthy, but overweight, middle-aged and older adults.

Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous conditions, including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, from Ohio State University (Ohio, USA), and colleagues report that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can lower inflammation in healthy, but overweight, middle-aged and older adults.   The team recruited 138 healthy middle-aged and older adults, average age 51 years, who were sedentary and overweight (average BMI of 30.59). For a 4-month period, subjects received either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; a third group served as control, receiving pills containing less than 2 teaspoons per day of a mix of oils representing a typical American’s daily dietary oil intake.  The team observed that serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) decreased by 10% and 12% in the groups receiving omega-3 in low-and high-doses, respectively; among the control group, IL-6  increased by 36%. As well, a 0.2% and −2.3% change in serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha observed in the low-and high-dose of omega-3 supplemented groups, respectively; compared to a 12% increase observed in the control group. Reporting that: "Our data suggest that [omega-3 fatty acids] can reduce inflammation in overweight, sedentary middle-aged and older adults, and thus could have broad health benefits," the study authors conclude that:  "These data provide a window into the ways in which the [omega-3 fatty acids] may impact disease initiation, progression, and resolution.”

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Martha A. Belury, Rebecca Andridge, William B. Malarkey, Beom Seuk Hwang, Ronald Glaser.  “Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: A randomized controlled trial.”  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26 May 2012.

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