The effects of low dose n-3 fatty acids on serum lipid profiles and insulin resistance of the elderly: a randomized controlled clinical trial

Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2010 Apr;80(2):107-16. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000011.


Introduction: N-3 fatty acids have several beneficial effects on dyslipidemia and diabetes, conditions which are prevalent in the elderly. This study assessed the effects of low-dose n-3 fatty acids on serum lipid profile, lipoprotein(a), apolipoprotein B, fasting glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance in a group of elderly Iranians.

Materials and methods: A 6-month randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial was carried out in 124 elderly residents of Kahrizak Charity Foundation aged >or= 65. The intervention group was supplemented with 1 g/day fish oil capsule (with 180 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA; and 120 mg docosahexaenoic acid, DHA; a total of 300 mg n-3 fatty acids as effective constituents). Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline and after 6 months of the trial.

Results: There were no significant effects of fish oil on the studied variables in the intervention group. In the placebo group, serum triglyceride significantly increased and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol significantly decreased (p = 0.01 and p = 0.009, respectively). By repeated measurement analysis after adjustments, the overall decrease in serum triglycerides compared with placebo was significant (p = 0.04).

Conclusion: Supplementation with low dose n-3 fatty acids for 6 months could significantly protect elderly Iranians from a rise in serum triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Iran
  • Lipase / blood
  • Lipase / drug effects
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoprotein(a) / blood
  • Lipoprotein(a) / drug effects
  • Male


  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Lipase