Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements could improve blood vessel function and support vascular health, according to a meta-analysis of 16 studies.
Taking omega-3 supplements daily for an average of 56 days was responsible for a 2.3% improvement in flow-mediated dilation (FMD). Flow-mediated dilation refers to a measure of a blood vessel's healthy ability to relax.
Doses of omega-3 used in the study varied from 0.45 to 4.5 grams per day, and researchers report that at the lower to medium levels "a dose-dependent effect was observed". This shows that the higher the dose of omega-3, the greater the effect on the FMD.
The same effects were not shown in participants taking high doses of omega-3.
There were only limiting affects for people with cardiovascular disease or its risk factor, and there were no benefits observed in healthy participants.
"It could be partly explained that healthy individuals may already have sound endothelial function and the improvement by omega-3 supplements was limited," the researchers said.
This study supports the data proving the link between polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, blood pressure and heart rate improvements, and improved vascular function.
Support for omega-3
"While the results from the meta-analysis leave many questions unanswered, as well as raising others, they do support a roll for the long-chain omega-3s in improving endothelial health in those with cardiovascular issues. The present results don't suggest a benefit for maintenance of endothelial health, but I suspect that is due to a floor effect. A long-term (i.e. years) intervention trial in healthy subjects should resolve that issue." said Dr Harry Rice, VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for GOED, the omega-3 trade association.
Study: "Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on endothelial function: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials"