Fish oil may help fend off coronavirus symptoms, studies show.
Fish oil has been used for decades and is recommended for daily use for heart and lung health. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids; these aid in lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, and minimizing the chance of heart attack or stroke. The brain uses these fatty acids to build essential cells for learning and memory, which helps fight off cognitive decline and diseases later in life. Among the many benefits fish oil has to offer, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that not only support the immune response but activate more white blood cells that fight off illness.
Because of fish oil’s ability to regulate the immune system, evidence supported the theory that it could be used to treat and prevent COVID-19. Prior studies were either too small or insufficient to apply data found on a larger scale. However, in this large-scale study, they analyzed regular fish oil use and the risk of COVID-19 infection; along with hospital admission and mortality rates from COVID-19. The UK Biobank is a group study of over 500 thousand people. Participants from England, Scotland, and Wales completed a questionnaire, gave biological samples, and provided a series of physical measurements.
Hospital and laboratory data was provided from each country’s database. Each participant was questioned on their fish oil usage. While blood tests confirmed COVID-19 antibodies among the participants. Multiple variables were counted for and gauged by the questionnaires. Variables such as age, sex, and ethnicity; as well as BMI, physical activity, diet, chronic illnesses, and vitamin intake were included.
Out of the 110,440 participants, 60,026 were female with an average age of 55. Over 29 thousand of the participants used fish oil regularly. The fish oil users were older in age, predominantly female, previously smoked, had a higher income, and engaged in physical activity more than the non-fish oil users. It was also observed that fish oil users most commonly had hypertension or heart attacks. When compared to non-users, fish oil users showed a reduced chance of death by 31% or being hospitalized due to COVID-19 by 25%. They divided the group into two groups to follow up in 12 years; the other in less than 12 years to properly gauge the reduced risks of COVID-19 outcomes with the use of fish oil.
This study is the first large-scale group study using this data from the UK Biobank analyzing fish oil use and COVID-19. The findings matched several other studies that had smaller, limited trials. However, this research uniquely found that there was no risk of fish oil use and COVID-19, unlike the others. This could be explained by the Omicron variant not being present at the time of those studies. Their study included the most recent COVID-19 data which used all variants across the entire pandemic period thus far. However, more research and follow-ups are still needed to see how it is associated with SARS-CoV-2 and still needs to undergo peer revision.