Elevated plasma glucose and lowered triglyceride levels from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in type II diabetes

Diabetes Care. 1989 Apr;12(4):276-81. doi: 10.2337/diacare.12.4.276.


We studied the effect of omega-3 fatty acids (omega 3FA) on glucose homeostasis and lipoprotein levels in eight type II (non-insulin-dependent)-diabetic subjects ingesting 8 g/day omega 3FA for 8 wk as marine-lipid concentrate capsules. After omega 3FA supplementation, fasting plasma glucose levels increased 22% (P = .005) and meal-stimulated glucose increased 35% (P = .036). The percentage of glucose elevation correlated with percentage ideal body weight (r = .73, P = .04). No significant changes were seen in fasting or meal-stimulated plasma insulin, glucose disposal, or insulin-to-glucagon ratios. Very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride (TG) levels showed consistent reductions of 56% (P less than .001) and 42% (P less than .001), respectively, after omega 3FA supplementation. Total cholesterol levels decreased 7% (P less than .05) without alteration in low- or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Thus, omega 3FA supplementation at a dose of 8 g/day significantly improves plasma TG levels but increases fasting and meal-stimulated glucose concentrations in the type II diabetic patient not treated with insulin or sulfonylurea agents. Marine-lipid concentrate capsules supplying large amounts of omega 3FAs should be used cautiously in the type II diabetic patient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Weight
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol Esters / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diet, Diabetic*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol Esters
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol