April 2013

Fish and Fish Oil May Affect Adiponectin Differently

Fish and fish oil supplements may have different effects on levels of adiponectin, a hormone linked to insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory benefits, a study reports.

Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant and nut oils. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while some nuts and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

There is evidence that suggests that the intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements may lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids may also benefit people with hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.

In the current study, the researchers set out to compare and contrast the effects of eating fish and taking fish oil supplements on adiponectin levels. They recruited 29 overweight and obese people who received 1.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of either fish or fish oil supplements for four weeks. The team observed changes in adiponectin levels, as well as other measures such as dietary intake and blood sugar levels.

The results suggest that fish and fish oil supplements may have significant differences in terms of effects on adiponectin. Subjects who ate fish experienced an increase in adiponectin of 0.29 micrograms per milliliter, while those who took the fish oil supplement had a decrease of 0.60 micrograms per milliliter. The group that ate fish significantly increased their fish and omega-3 intake over the course of the study. Significant differences between groups in terms of other measures were lacking.

The researchers concluded that short-term consumption of fish and fish oil supplements may have different effects on levels of adiponectin. They emphasized that the effects of fish intake on adiponectin may be due to other factors besides omega-3 content. More research is needed to better understand these findings.

Insulin resistance may lead to health problems such as diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make any insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, the body does not make or use insulin properly. Integrative therapies such as alpha-lipoic acid, a compound made naturally in the body, and konjac glucomannan, a dietary fiber, have also been studied for use in improving insulin sensitivity.

For more information about fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Neale EP, Muhlhausler B, Probst YC, et al. Short-term effects of fish and fish oil consumption on total and high molecular weight adiponectin levels in overweight and obese adults. Metabolism. 2013 May;62(5):651-60. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.10.014. Epub 2012 Nov 26. 

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