Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and type 2 diabetes mellitus

Darshan S. Kelley, Kent L Erickson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Initial indications that n-3 PUFA may reduce insulin resistance (IR) came from epidemiological studies showing lower incidence of diabetes in Greenland Inuit's, Alaskan natives and Japanese Islanders compared with their mainland counterparts. Out of the seven longitudinal epidemiological studies conducted subsequently, four reported an inverse association between IR and n-3 PUFA intake, one found no association, and two reported increased IR with increased intake of n-3 PUFA. Homeostatic model of IR (HOMA-IR) was inversely associated with plasma-phospholipids (PL) n-3 PUFA in 4 of 4 studies, erythrocyte n-3 PUFA in 2 of 2 studies, skeletal muscle docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 1 study, but it was positively associated with the adipose tissue DHA in 1 study. Out of 23 intervention studies with n-3 PUFA supplementation [fish, fish oils, purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), DHA, α-linolenic acid (ALA) or flaxseed] 11 reported decrease in IR or improved insulin sensitivity, 10 found no change, and two reported increase in IR. These inconsistencies may be due to the relatively high concentrations of n-6 PUFA and low n-3 PUFA with variable amounts of saturated and trans fatty acid in the basal diets, short duration, use of insensitive methods to evaluate IR, or health status of the subjects and interference by their medicines. Despite the inconsistencies, a majority of the studies showed a benefit or no effect and only a few showed adverse effects. Considering that n-3 PUFA reduce the risk for a number of inflammatory chronic diseases, their intake should be increased, and that of n-6 PUFA, saturated and trans fatty acids should be decreased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency Syndrome: Opportunities for Disease Prevention
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9781624177033
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and type 2 diabetes mellitus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this