People with higher omega-3 levels in their blood may have a reduced risk of death from Covid-19 infection, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, indicated that the relative risk of death was about four times higher in those with a lower omega-3 Index (O3I) compared to those with higher levels.
According to the researchers, an excessive inflammatory response, referred to as a ‘cytokine storm,’ is a fundamental mediator of severe Covid-19 illness.
Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have potent anti-inflammatory activities, and this pilot study provides suggestive evidence that these fatty acids may dampen Covid-19’s cytokine storm, the researchers said.
“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,” said lead author Arash Asher, from Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the US.
For the study, the team included 100 patients admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 for whom admission blood samples had been stored.
Clinical outcomes for these patients were obtained and blood was analyzed for the Omega-3 Index (O3I, red blood cell membrane EPA+DHA levels) at OmegaQuant Analytics (Sioux Falls, SD). Fourteen of the patients died.
The 100 patients were grouped into four quartiles according to their O3I, with 25 per cent of the patients in each quartile. There was one death in the top quartile, with 13 deaths in the remaining patients.
In age-and-sex adjusted regression analyses, those in the highest quartile were 75 per cent less likely to die compared with those in the lower three quartiles.