Omega-3 supplements and IBD
I love fish oil! It is a supplement I take and recommend often. I also give it to my entire family. We each have our own fish oil supplements. My kids take Nordic DHA and Cod liver oil. My fiancé uses a fish oil supplement that has a very weak fishy flavor. And I take a strong omega-3 from Metagenics. There is evidence that the gastrointestinal mucosa is highly responsive to long-chain PUFA such as omega-3 fats from fish oil. The intake of omega-3 fats can be helpful in the treatment of IBD (such as CD and UC) as it can alleviate the symptoms and help the recovery of the mucosal due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Some possible mechanisms include reduction in production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduction in the expression of intestinal NFκB (Barbalho, Goulart Rde, Quesada, Bechara, & de Carvalho Ade, 2016). Many authors have studied the role of omegas in the prevention, treatment and maintenance of remission of inflammatory diseases such as IBD (Barbalho et al., 2016). Colonic mucosa biopsies revealed that patients with UC have higher levels of inflammatory inducing fatty acids (such as arachidonic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids) and lower levels of linoleic, α-linolenic and eicosapentaenoic acids, which was positively correlated with the severity of inflammation. There are 3 main reasons why there is controversial findings between omega-3 and IBD (Barbalho et al., 2016):
- Different forms of omega-3 fats have different effects when compared to the native form found in fish
- There are genetic differences in in omega-3 fat receptors that may interfere with the responsiveness to fatty acid supplementation
- Modifications in G-protein receptors and PPAR-α (considered to be a dietary lipid sensor)
- Differences or problems in their methodology-such number of patients, duration of the study, lifestyle factors, and elements that interfere in efficacy of omega 3 controlling symptoms.
Literature is rich in the benefits of omega-3 fats, particularly in improving the intestinal morphology and barrier function and decrease the synthesis of inflammatory markers as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, prostaglandin E2 and expression of TLR4 and NFκB (Barbalho et al., 2016). Pain relief was observed in several pathologies, including IBD, possibly because ω3FA reduce proinflammatory cytokine and eicosanoid production. “Other studies showed that increased consumption of ω3FA and decreased consumption of ω6FA can modify endocannabinoid production in humans thereby suggesting that their derivatives could have physical and/or psychological pain modulating properties” (Barbalho et al., 2016).
I think the evidence is strong enough that the benefits outweigh the risks of taking omega-3 supplements. Many people are starting to switch to algae oil due to the potential risk of taking fish oil. Fish oil is considered a better source of DHA than algae because it contains these fatty acids in the form that the body requires (Weil, 2003). However other sources indicate algae omega-3 supplements are equivalent in quality as fish oil. I just found this plant based omega-3 supplement. I may rotate this one in as well.
Here is the Amazon link of this fish oil —->>>https://amzn.to/2trBbCD
Weil, A. (2003). Where’s the Best DHA? Retrieved (2018, June 24) from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/supplements-remedies/wheres-the-best-dha/
Barbalho, S. M., Goulart Rde, A., Quesada, K., Bechara, M. D., & de Carvalho Ade, C. (2016). Inflammatory bowel disease: can omega-3 fatty acids really help? Ann Gastroenterol, 29(1), 37-43.