04 June 2015

fish oil capsules coming out of vitamin bottleResearchers at UniSA’s Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) are investigating whether taking fish oil capsules can improve metabolic rate in women.

Fish oil contains omega 3 fats which have been linked with various health benefits and are considered essential nutrients.

Associate Professor Alison Coates from ARENA says omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to promote fat burning, which means less fat is stored in the body. However, not all studies have found a positive effect in humans.

“In a large cohort study, men who reported higher fish consumption were less likely to be overweight than those who reported low fish consumption, an effect which could be explained by its omega 3 fish oil content,” she says.

“However, other studies have not seen this same relationship in women.”

Capturing a true estimate of how much of a nutrient is eaten can be challenging and Assoc Prof Coates suggests that the best way to accurately determine the amount of omega 3s consumed is to measure the amount in red blood cells, as this reflects habitual intakes of these important fats.

She says studies have shown the amount of omega 3 fats in red blood cells are associated with a healthier BMI, waist and hip circumference. 

“Many people struggle with controlling weight. Investigating strategies to help us burn fat more efficiently is important to understand,” she says.

“There are a number of factors that influence how many omega 3s are in red blood cells including the amount consumed either from dietary sources or supplements relative to a person’s body weight.

“A study from Penn State University found that individuals with lower body weight and consuming higher doses of omega 3s gained the most benefits from these fats.

“This knowledge suggests that fish oil supplements should be consumed based on one’s body weight, but we need to gather more evidence before we can advise on the optimal dose, which is why we are conducting this study.”

Assoc Prof Coates and a team of researchers are looking for female volunteers who are overweight to take part in a six week oil capsule supplementation study. They must be non-smokers aged between 18 and 45 years old, who are not taking fish oil capsules.

Volunteers will need to visit the Sansom Institute for Health Research clinical trials facility at the City East campus of UniSA on Frome Road on two occasions throughout the study and all eligible participants will receive information about their body composition as well as dietary analysis.

To find out more about making a contribution to this important study, potential volunteers can telephone (08) 8302 2892 or Sansom.researchvolunteers@unisa.edu.au

Contact for interview Alison Coates office (08) 8302 2313 email alison.coates@unisa.edu.au

Media Contact Kelly Stone office (08) 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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