Effects of Fish Oil Supplementation on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in NIDDM

  1. Colin N Chesterman
  1. Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Lipid Research Department, St. Vincent's Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, St. George Hospital Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to M. Borkman, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, St. Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

Abstract

Fish oils, containing omega-3 fatty acids (ω3FAs), favorably influence plasma lipoproteins in nondiabetic humans and prevent the development of insulin resistance induced by fat feeding in rats. We studied the effects of fish oils in 10 subjects (aged 42–65 yr) with mild non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Subjects were fed a standard diabetic diet plus 1) no supplementation (baseline), 2) 10 g fish oil concentrate (30% ω3FAs) daily, and 3) 10 g safflower oil daily over separate 3-wk periods, the latter two supplements being given in radom order by use of a double-blind crossover design. At the end of each diet period, fasting blood glucose (FBG), insulin, and lipids were measured, and insulin sensitivity was assessed with a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp performed with [3-3H]glucose. FBG increased 14% during fish oil and 11% during safflower oil supplementation compared with baseline (P < .05), whereas body weight, fasting serum insulin levels, and insulin sensitivity were unchanged. The absolute increase in FBG during each supplementation period correlated with the baseline FBG (fish oil, r = .83, P < .005; safflower oil, r = .75, P = .012). Fasting plasma triglyceride levels decreased during fish oil supplementation in the 4 subjects with baseline hypertriglyceridemia (>2 mM) but were not significantly reduced overall. There was no significant change in fasting plasma total, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. In summary, dietary fish oil supplementation adversely affected glycemic control in NIDDM subjects without producing significant beneficial effects on plasma lipids. The effect of safflower oil supplementation was not significantly different from fish oil, suggesting that the negative effects on glucose metabolism may be related to the extra energy or fat intake. These data indicate that fish oil supplementation should be used with caution in subjects with NIDDM.

  • Received September 23, 1988.
  • Revision received May 16, 1989.
  • Accepted May 16, 1989.
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