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A randomized trial of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on arterial health, inflammation, and metabolic syndrome in a young healthy population

Martin Root1*, Scott R Collier2, Kevin A Zwetsloot2, Katrina L West3 and Megan C McGinn4

Author affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, 28608, USA

2 Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, 28608, USA

3 5231 Cypress Palms Lane, Tampa, FL, 33647, USA

4 17 Salem Acres, Weaverville, NC, 28787, USA

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:40  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-40

Published: 8 April 2013



Long chain omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils (O3) are known to have beneficial effects on a number of vascular risk factors in at-risk populations. The effects of a highly bioavailable emulsified preparation on an overweight young adult population are less well known.


Young adults, age 18–30, with body mass indices (BMIs) greater than 23 (average = 28.1) were administered 1.7 g of O3 per day (N = 30) or safflower oil placebo (N = 27) in an emulsified preparation (Coromega, Inc.) for 4 weeks in a double-blind randomized design. Blood was drawn and anthropometric measurements taken before and after dosing. Hemodynamic measures (central pulse wave velocity, augmentation index, and aortic systolic blood pressure), inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor-α), red blood cell and plasma phospholipid fatty acid profiles, fasting serum lipids, glucose, and C-reactive protein were measured.


Red cell and plasma phospholipid eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid concentrations increased over the four weeks of dosing in the O3 group. Dosing with O3 did not affect central pulse wave velocity, augmentation index, or aortic systolic blood pressure. None of the five American Heart Association metabolic syndrome components improved over the dosing period. None of the inflammatory cytokines, C-reactive protein, or lipids (total or LDL cholesterol) improved over the dosing period.


No salutary effects of O3 were observed in hemodynamic, metabolic syndrome criteria or inflammatory markers as a result of this relatively short period of administration in this relatively overweight, but healthy young adult cohort.

Fish oil; Inflammation; Metabolic syndrome; Pulse wave velocity; Randomized trial