Omega-3 intakes may improve diabetic kidney health

April 13, 2010

    Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce kidney damage in type-1 diabetics, without impacting the incidence of the condition, says a new study. Kidney function was improved in type-1 diabetics with the highest average intake of EPA and DHA compared with people with the lower intakes of the fatty acids, according to the study findings.
    The results are based on data from 1,436 participants in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial – a trial including people aged between 13 and 39 and funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Type-1 diabetes occurs when people are not able to produce any insulin after the cells in the pancreas have been damaged; it is thought to be an autoimmune disease. The disease is most common among people of European descent, with around two million Europeans and North Americans affected. In addition, the incidence of the disease is reportedly on the rise at about three per cent per year. The number of new cases is estimated to rise 40 per cent between 2000 and 2010. All diabetics are known to be at increased risk of kidney disease.
    The researchers, led by Dr Amanda Adler from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge (UK), measured the excretion of the protein albumin in urine. Albumin is the most abundant protein in human serum and in people with kidney problems the protein leaks from the kidney into the urine. This is because the tiny filtering units in the kidneys known as glomerulus become inflamed and are destroyed allowing protein to leak out into the urine. A level of 30 mg per 24 hours is reportedly representative of sufficient function; and less than this is better. According to the results, people with a higher average intake of omega-3 (Fish Oil Fatty Acids) had albumin excretion levels 22.7 mg per 24 hours lower than people with the lowest average intakes of omega-3. “Dietary omege-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids appear inversely associated with the degree, but not with the incidence of albuminuria in type-1 diabetes,” wrote Dr Adler and her co-workers. “These findings require further investigation in prospective studies.”
    Previously results of a double-blind placebo-controlled trial from Hong Kong published earlier this year suggested that supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may improve the kidney health of diabetics. In this study, the researchers evaluated kidney function by measuring creatine levels, with high levels indicative of damage to the functioning of nephrons in the kidney.“Our results showed a significant decrease in serum creatinine level after fish-oil supplement in Type 2 diabetes mellitus patients,” stated the researchers in the journal Diabetic Medicine. “Prior studies have [also] suggested that fish-oil supplement has renoprotective effects in diabetes mellitus,” they added. Recently a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that higher intakes of omega-3 Fish Oil fatty acids may actually reduce the risk of type-1 diabetes by 55 %. The study analysed data from 1,770 children at high risk of developing type-1 diabetes. The results of the new study are published online ahead of print in the journal Diabetes Care.