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    You are here : Home » MS Research News » Diet » Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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    Fish oil supplements won't help in Multiple Sclerosis: study

    Fish Oil Omega-3 fatty acid supplements don't appear to have any benefit on multiple sclerosis (MS), according a study by Norwegian researchers.

    Multiple sclerosis affects about 2.5 million people worldwide. Some prior research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acid supplements might have anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit those with the disease, according to background information in the study.

    Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, and in fish oil supplements.

    "Our study provides evidence that omega-3 supplementation has no beneficial effect on MS, neither given alone nor in combination with interferon treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Oivind Torkildsen, from Haukeland University Hospital, in Bergen. Interferon is a standard drug given to MS patients.

    "Our data do not suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was harmful or that it interfered with interferon beta treatment," he added.

    This study is important, not only for neurologists and MS patients, but also for general practitioners, who frequently advise patients about lifestyle interventions and complementary approaches to MS treatment, Torkildsen said.

    The report was published in the April 16 online edition of the Archives of Neurology.

    For the study, Torkildsen's team looked at 92 MS patients, aged 18 to 55, with a form of the disease known as relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

    Half of the patients were given the supplement alone or the supplement plus injections of interferon beta-1a. The other half received an inactive placebo.

    After six months, all patients were given interferon beta-1a three times a week for an additional 18 months.

    When the patients underwent MRI brain scans to look for new lesions, the researchers found no effect on the disease among those taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

    The results were the same whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements were used alone or in combination with interferon beta-1a, the study authors noted.

    These findings were in contrast with two other studies that showed possible positive effects from fish oil supplements, Torkildsen and colleagues pointed out.

    No difference existed between the groups in the number of relapses during the first six months of treatment or after 24 months, and there were no differences in fatigue or quality of life, according to the results.

    Commenting on the study, Dr. Kottil Rammohan, a professor of neurology and director of the MS division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, "It doesn't surprise me that omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on MS. I have never looked upon omega-3 fatty acids as having an effect on MS and I have a lot of patients who take these supplements for heart health," he said.

    However, Rammohan added, "This study won't change my advice to patients to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements because they have other health benefits."

    Source: US News & World Report Copyright © 2012 U.S.News & World Report LP (17/04/12)

    Omega-3 fatty acids could prevent and treat nerve damage

    OilResearch from Queen Mary, University of London suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, have the potential to protect nerves from injury and help them to regenerate.

    When nerves are damaged because of an accident or injury, patients experience pain, weakness and muscle paralysis which can leave them disabled, and recovery rates are poor.

    The new study, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could play a significant role in speeding recovery from nerve injury.

    The study focused on peripheral nerve cells. Peripheral nerves are the nerves which transmit signals between the brain and spinal cord, and the rest of the body.

    These nerves have the ability to regenerate but, despite advances in surgical techniques, patients usually only have good recovery when their injury is minor.

    Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the body's normal growth and development and have been widely researched for their health benefits. Because the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, they have to be consumed in foods such as oily fish.

    In the new study, researchers first looked at isolated mouse nerve cells. They simulated the type of damage caused by accident or injury, by either stretching the cells or starving them of oxygen. Both types of damage killed a significant number of nerve cells but enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids in cells gave them significant protection and decreased cell death.

    Next the researchers studied the sciatic nerves of mice. They found that a high level of omega-3 fatty acids helped mice to recover from sciatic nerve injury more quickly and more fully, and that their muscles were less likely to waste following nerve damage.

    The research was carried out by a group led by Adina Michael-Titus, Professor of Neuroscience at Barts and The London Medical School and lead of the Neurotrauma and Neurodegeneration group in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Queen Mary, University of London.

    She explained: "Our previous research has shown that these fatty acids could have beneficial effects in a number of neurological conditions. This new study suggests that they could also have a role in treating peripheral nerve injuries.

    "More work is needed but our research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can protect damaged nerve cells, which is a critical first step in a successful neurological recovery."

    Source: Medical News Today © MediLexicon International Ltd 2004-2012 (13/01/12)

    Omega-3 fatty acids study, possible implications for MS

    Omega 3 OilThe effects of omega-3 Fatty acids on matrix metalloproteinase-9 production and cell migration in human immune cells: implications for MS

    In multiple sclerosis (MS), compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity contributes to inflammatory T cell migration into the central nervous system.

    Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is associated with BBB disruption and subsequent T cell migration into the CNS. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on MMP-9 levels and T cell migration.

    Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy controls were pretreated with two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cell supernatants were used to determine MMP-9 protein and activity levels.

    Jurkat cells were pretreated with EPA and DHA and were added to fibronectin-coated transwells to measure T cell migration. EPA and DHA significantly decreased MMP-9 protein levels, MMP-9 activity, and significantly inhibited human T cell migration.

    The data suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may benefit patients with multiple sclerosis by modulating immune cell production of MMP-9.

    Full article

    Lynne Shinto,1 Gail Marracci,2 Lauren Bumgarner,1 and Vijayshree Yadav1, 2

    1Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, CR 120, Portland, OR 97239, USA
    2Research Division, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, OR 97239, USA
    Academic Editor: D. N. Bourdette

    Source: Pubmed PMID: 21799946 (28/09/11)

    Fish Oil Could Provide Measure of Relief for Some MS Patients
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease found in one in 700 Americans. It affects women more often than men, and generally begins to show signs between ages 20-40. While the cause is unknown, many physicians believe it is the result of damage around nerve cells. Inflammation destroys the myelin sheath which covers the nerve cells, and leads to multiple areas of sclerosis (scar tissue).

    Health care practitioners often recommend eating fish at least twice per week because fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are known to affect key blood proteins (matrix metalloproteinase-9; MMP-9) and are produced by the immune cells of individuals with MS. A new study evaluating the effects of omega-3 on MMP-9 in patients with MS suggests that the intake of fish oil, containing omega-3 fatty acids, may have potential benefit in MS by decreasing MMP-9 levels.

    The study was conducted by L. Shinto, ND, MPH, S. Baldauf-Wagner, A. Strehlow, V. Yadav and D. Bourdette, all of the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; and G. Marracci of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, OR. It is entitled, “The Immunomodulatory Effects of Fish Oil in Multiple Sclerosis.” Dr. Shinto is presenting the team’s findings at the 22nd annual meting of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP; The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA, August 22-25, 2007.

    The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on ten patients with MS. Ten MS participants received 9.6 grams of fish oil/day in an open-label study. An in vitro study using immune cells from healthy subjects was also conducted simultaneously to evaluate concentration effects of EPA and DHA on MMP-9 levels and activity.

    The researchers found there was a 58 percent decrease in MMP-9 levels secreted from immune cells of MS volunteers after three months of fish oil supplementation compared to baseline levels. At three months, both EPA and DHA levels were significantly increased in red blood cell membranes. The in vitro study showed a significant decrease in MMP-9 levels and activity for EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease both MMP-9 levels and activity and may act as immune-modulators that could benefit MS patients.

    According to Dr. Shinto, the lead researcher, “These findings confirm previous research findings that suggest the intake of fish oil, containing Omega-3 fatty acids could provide a measure of relief for those with MS, a disease that is progressive, debilitating, and without a cure.”

    The Omega-3 Factor

    National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Inside MS - December 2006-January 2007

    Allen C. Bowling, MD, PHD and Tom Stewart, JD, PA-C.

    CAM stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a group of diverse therapies and products that are neither part of conventional medicine as taught in U.S. medical schools, nor generally available at U.S. hospitals. The practice of using an unconventional therapy together with conventional medicine is called "complementary medicine."

    Fat is an essential nutrient for the body. But as food ads endlessly trumpet, some are deemed "good" and others "bad." Polyunsaturated fat is commonly considered a "good" one. Compared to saturated and trans fats, which may raise blood cholesterol, polyunsaturated fat may help lower cholesterol and may therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Polyunsaturated fat contains two major types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)—omega-3 and omega-6—which the body needs but does not make for itself. Omega-3 fatty acids are found abundantly in certain fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, and in fish oil products. Smaller amounts are found in a few other sources: canola oil, flaxseed, and walnuts.

    Fishy benefits?
    Polyunsaturated fat, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, has been the focus of a number of studies involving people who have MS. There's some evidence that they may be beneficial for the relapsing-remitting form of MS.

    Two placebo-controlled clinical trials studied omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. A large, two-year study followed 312 people with MS. The group taking 10 grams of fish oil daily had less disability progression and fewer relapses than those taking a placebo (a "dummy pill"). However, the difference between the fish oil group and the placebo group was not "statistically significant." In other words, the more positive results in the fish oil group could have occurred due to chance alone. Technically though, there was a trend favouring the fish oil group.

    A small, one-year study looked at whether taking fish oil supplements along with consuming less saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) would benefit people with MS. All 31 participants were taking one of the FDA-approved MS medications. As in the other study, the group taking fish oil did better but, again, the difference was in a range that might have occurred due to chance alone. Results from the quality-of-life survey on physical functioning found that the trend favoured the fish oil group.

    There is other evidence to consider as well. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids are known to cause changes in the immune system that would theoretically be beneficial in people with MS...............

    For the full article please click on the link above.

    By: Jennifer Matthews, News 14 Carolina

    You've heard that fish oil is good for you and some studies show it may even prevent Alzheimer's and heart disease. Doctors are now looking to see if it can decrease depression in a specific group of patients.

    Simply putting on makeup can be difficult for Kendall Minter. She has multiple sclerosis -- a disease that causes double vision, numbness in her hand and depression.

    "I just get stuck in this cycle of doubt and just sadness, and I don't want to do anything about it," she said.

    Lynne Shinto, N.D., a naturopathic researcher at Oregon Health and Science University, says people with MS have high levels of inflammation in their blood, which could cause depression.

    In a pilot study, Shinto gave fish oil to MS patients to see if it could decrease those levels. She says the results look promising.

    After taking the fish oils for three months, Shinto says the patients' inflammation levels dropped by about 50 percent. Then, when they were taken off fish oil for three months, the levels went back up.

    Shinto and her colleagues are now conducting another study to find out if the fish oil reduces depression and other symptoms of MS.

    Minter is excited about the new study. She hopes it will also be a bonus for the up to 60 percent of MS patients who suffer depression.

    So far, the only side effect is a fishy aftertaste and an upset stomach.

    Shinto says there is some evidence that fish oil can help patients with depression who don't have MS, but more research needs to be done to confirm that.


    Fish oil supplements are dietary supplements containing oil from cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, black cod, albacore tuna, sardines and herring. The active ingredients in fish oil supplements are essential fatty acids known as omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-water fish boast the most potent forms of omega-3s -- the essential fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 acids are also found in flaxseed oil and walnut oil. Along with omega-3, people also consume another essential fatty acid called omega-6. The main sources of omega-6 fatty acids are vegetable oils such as corn oil and soy oil that contain a high proportion of linoleic acid. These are the acids people tend to consume too much of. Scientists believe a major reason for the high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some forms of cancer is the profound imbalance between our dietary intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.


    Scientists are constantly uncovering new benefits of consuming fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids. Fish may help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure. Researchers have also discovered it can help prevent certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. Other benefits of getting your omega-3 acids include controlling diabetes, treating rheumatoid arthritis, minimizing Crohn's disease symptoms and also cosmetic benefits such as hair growth and smooth skin.


    According to scientists, the best way to get fish oil and essential fatty acids is to eat fish two to three times a week. Doctors, however, say if you do not eat enough fish throughout the week and decide to take fish oil supplements, you should avoid taking the entire dose at one time. Try splitting a 3,000-milligram daily dose into three 1,000-milligram doses, and take it throughout the day with meals. Researchers say for aging take 2,000 milligrams, for asthma take 3,000 milligrams, for diabetes take 6,000 milligrams and for high blood pressure take 3,000 milligrams.


    Taking fish oil supplements can result in belching and flatulence, along with fishy odor on the breath, an upset stomach, or greasy stools. More serious side effects include a possible increase in LDL cholesterol, weight gain and decrease the absorption of vitamins A, E, D, and K from the stomach if fish oils are taken in large doses, a possible increase blood sugar, and also mild nosebleeds or bruising when fish oils are taken for long periods of time.


    Fish oil has recently been shown to help patients battling multiple sclerosis -- a disease that causes double vision, numbness in the hand and also depression. People with MS have high levels of inflammation in their blood, which could cause depression. Taking fish oil supplements may decrease those levels of inflammation and help eliminate depression in patients with MS.

    Source: News14 Carolina - Copyright ©2005Charlotte News Channel, L.L.C d.b.a. News 14 Carolina

    Low fat dietary intervention with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in multiple sclerosis patients.

    Weinstock-Guttman B, Baier M, Park Y, Feichter J, Lee-Kwen P, Gallagher E, Venkatraman J, Meksawan K, Deinehert S, Pendergast D, Awad AB, Ramanathan M, Munschauer F, Rudick R.

    Baird Multiple Sclerosis Center for MS Treatment and Research, Jacobs Neurological Institute, State University of New York, 100 High Street, Buffalo General Hospital-E2, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.

    Objectives: To determine whether a low fat diet supplemented with omega-3 positively affects quality of life (QOL) in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients. In this 1-year long double-blind, randomized trial, patients were randomized to two dietary interventions: the "Fish Oil" (FO) group received a low fat diet (15% fat) with omega-3 FOs and the "Olive Oil" (OO) group received the AHA Step I diet (fat 30%) with OO supplements. The primary outcome measure was the Physical Components Summary Scale (PCS) of the Short Health Status Questionnaire (SF-36). Additional measures using MS specific QOL questionnaires, neurological status and relapse rate were obtained. Results: 31 RRMS patients were enrolled, with mean follow up over 11+/-SD 2.9 months. Clinical benefits favoring the FO group were observed on PCS/SF-36 (P=0.050) and MHI (P=0.050) at 6 months. Reduced fatigue was seen on the OO diet at 6 months (P=0.035). The relapse rate decreased in both groups relative to the rates during the 1 year preceding the study: mean change in relapse rate in the FO group: -0.79+/-SD 1.12 relapses/year (P=0.021) vs. -0.69+/-SD 1.11 (P=0.044) in the OO group. This study suggests that a low fat diet supplemented with omega-3 PUFA can have moderate benefits in RRMS patients on concurrent disease modifying therapies.

    1: Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005 Nov;73(5):397-404.

    Diet, Fish Oil and MS

    A one year study of 32 people with MS compared two different diets. One group received dietary advice to consume less than 15% of their total daily calories from fat and were given fish oil capsules.

    The other group received olive oil capsules and were told to eat less than 30% of total daily calories from fat. The fish oil group experienced fewer exacerbations and did not develop new disability in the course of the trial.

    Ref: Weinstock-Guttman B, et al. A randomised study of low fat diet with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2003;60S:A151.

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