The effects of omega 3 supplementation on markers of obesity and endothelial function in healthy subjects
ABSTRACT The hormone leptin is an important regulator of body weight and energy balance, while nitric oxide (NO) produced in the blood vessels is beneficial for preventing disease-induced impaired vasodilation and hypertension. Elevations in the free radical superoxide can result in impaired vasodilation through scavenging of NO. Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is beneficial at reducing body weight and in lowering many cardiovascular risk factors like atherosclerosis. The present study was designed to examine the change in plasma concentrations of leptin, nitric oxide, and the antioxidant superoxide dismutase in addition to examining the association between leptin and NO in healthy normal weight adult female subjects before and following omega 3 intakes. Participants were randomly assigned to either a fish oil group (600 mg per day) or a control group (1000 mg of coconut oil per day) for 8 weeks. Results showed no significant difference in the percent change of leptin over the 8 week supplementation period for either group (15.3±31.9 for fish oil group, 7.83±27 for control group; p=0.763). The percent change in NO was similarly not significantly altered in either group (-1.97±22 decline in fish oil group, 11.8±53.9 in control group; p=0.960). Likewise, the percent change in superoxide dismutase for each group was not significant following 8 weeks of supplementation (fish oil group: 11.94±20.94; control group: 11.8±53.9; p=0.362). The Pearson correlation co-efficient comparing the percent change of both leptin and NO was r2= -0.251 demonstrating a mildly negative, albeit insignificant, relationship between these factors. Together, these findings suggest that daily supplementation with 600 mg omega 3 in healthy females is not beneficial for improving these cardiovascular risk markers. Future studies in this area should include male subjects as well as overweight subjects with larger doses of fish oil that are equivalent to three or more servings per week. The importance of gender cannot be underestimated since estrogen has protective effects in the vasculature of females that may have masked any further protective effects of the fish oil. In addition, overweight individuals are often leptin-resistant and develop impaired vasodilation resulting from superoxide-mediated scavenging of nitric oxide. Therefore, the reported antioxidant and weight loss properties of omega 3 supplementation may greatly benefit overweight individuals.