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Mil Med. 2014 Nov;179(11 Suppl):138-43. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00154.

Metabolic health benefits of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia.


Restricting energy intake and increasing physical activity are advocated for reducing obesity, but many individuals have difficulty complying with these recommendations. Consumption of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) offers multiple mechanisms to counteract obesity, including appetite suppression; circulatory improvements, which promote nutrient delivery to skeletal muscle and changes in gene expression, which shift metabolism toward increased fat oxidation; increased energy expenditure; and reduced fat deposition. n-3 LCPUFA may also alter gene expression in skeletal muscle to suppress catabolic pathways and upregulate anabolic pathways, resulting in greater lean tissue mass, metabolic rate, and maintenance of physical function. n-3 LCPUFA supplementation has been shown to counteract obesity in rodents, but evidence in humans is limited. Epidemiological associations between n-3 LCPUFA intakes and obesity are inconclusive. Several studies, on the other hand, indicate inverse relationships between biomarkers of n-3 LCPUFA status and obesity, although causality is uncertain. There have been few human intervention trials of omega-3 supplementation for obesity; some have indicated potential benefits, especially when combined with energy-restricted diets or exercise. More trials are needed to confirm these effects and identify mechanisms of action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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