Those With High Omega-3 Index Less Likely to Die From COVID-19

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A recent pilot study published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, has provided the first bits of evidence that individuals with higher levels of omega-3 in their blood may potentially be at a reduced risk of dying from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The research was conducted by the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) in collaboration with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in both Los Angeles and Orange County, California.

While there is a literature that hypothesizes Omega-3 fatty acids potentially providing a benefit to patients with COVID-19, no published peer-reviewed studies have been conducted to support it.

"Asher et al have demonstrated that a low Omega-3 Index might be a powerful predictor for death from COVID-19,” Clemens von Schacky, a cardiology researcher said.

Investigators behind the study analyzed blood samples and clinical outcomes of 100 patients who were admitted to a hospital with a confirmed case of COVID-19. The participants were separated into 4 groups according to their O3I, with 25% in each quartile. The blood was examined at OmegaQuant Analytics for Omega-3 Index (O3I, red blood cell membrane EPA+DHA levels).

Findings showed that in age-and-sex adjusted regression analyses, the participants in the 3 lower quartiles (p=0.07) were 75% more likely to die when compared to those who were in the highest quartile (O3I >5.7%). This means that those with a lower O3I (<5.7%) had a 4 times higher relative risk of death.

"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," Arash Asher, lead author on this study said.