People with high omega-3 blood levels are less likely to die from COVID-19

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Researchers have found that people with higher omega-3 blood levels have a reduced risk of death from COVID-19

Researchers from the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) and collaborators at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have discovered that higher omega-3 blood levels may reduce the risk of death from COVID-19 infection.

In the study, 100 patients that were hospitalized from COVID-19 were grouped into four quartiles according to their Omega-3 Index (O3I, red blood cell membrane EPA+DHA levels).

Omega-3 Index

Those in the highest quartile (O3I >5.7%) were 75% less likely to die compared with those in the lower three quartiles (p=0.07). The relative risk for death was about four times higher in those with a lower O3I (<5.7%) compared to those with higher levels.

There was one death in the top quartile (1 death out of 25 patients with O3I>5.7%), with 13 deaths in the remaining patients (13 deaths out of 75 patients with O3I<5.7%).

Arash Asher, MD, the lead author on this study, said: “While not meeting standard statistical significance thresholds, this pilot study – along with multiple lines of evidence regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA – strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may help reduce risk for adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Larger studies are clearly needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Cardiology researcher and co-developer with Dr Harris of the Omega-3 Index, Clemens von Schacky, MD, (CEO, Omegametrix GmbH, Martinsried, Germany, and not involved with the study) added, “Asher et al have demonstrated that a low Omega-3 Index might be a powerful predictor for death from COVID-19. Although encouraging, their findings clearly need to be replicated.”

Omega-3 expert James H. O’Keefe, Jr., MD, (Director of Preventive Cardiology, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO, and also not involved with the study) observed, “An excessive inflammatory response, referred to as a ‘cytokine storm,’ is a fundamental mediator of severe COVID-19 illness. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have potent anti-inflammatory activities, and this pilot study provides suggestive evidence that these fatty acids may dampen COVID-19’s cytokine storm.”


The report was published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids.


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