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Study from Sioux Falls suggests omega-3 could help with COVID-19

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:01 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The COVID-19 death toll continues to climb in South Dakota. According to the Department of Health, nearly 18-hundred South Dakotans have died after contracting the virus. Nearly 80-percent of those deaths were directly caused by COVID-19.

But researchers in Sioux Falls could be on the way to improving the outcome. They’re the first to publish evidence suggesting omega-3 in the blood may reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.

The Fatty Acid Research Institute is located in Sioux Falls. Researchers study omega-3 in the blood to see if it’s linked to better health. To understand their most recent study, we first need to know what omega-3 fatty acids are.

“Fatty acids are parts of all the membranes of our body. Every cell has a layer of fatty acids around it and the more omega-3 that are in those membranes, the healthier the cell is, the better it operates,” said Bill Harris, President of the Fatty Acid Research Institute and Professor at the Dept. of Internal Medicine at the University of South Dakota.

Omega-3 can be found in certain oily fish like salmon and sardines or fish oil. But what does this have to do with COVID-19? Here’s the researchers’ hypothesis:

According to Johns Hopkins, COVID-19 can cause inflammation to the lungs.

“We knew from other studies that omega-3 levels, omega-3′s will dampen down the immune response, the inflammatory response. So it made sense that it would, but just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it’s true,” said Harris.

Researchers worked on a pilot study to see if they could prove this. At the OmegaQuant Analytics Lab in Sioux Falls, researchers measured omega-3 in the blood samples of 100 COVID-9 patients from Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and in Orange County, CA.

They then divided the patients up into four groups of 25. Ranked each group’s omega-3 levels from highest to lowest and looked at how many patients died in each group.

“In the top omega-3 group one person died and in the bottom three, 13 people died. We did some statistics to say well is that if that’s significantly different? And it turned out it was significantly different,” said Harris.

According to researchers, the study found that the group with the highest levels of omega-3 were 75 percent less likely to die while in the hospital with COVID-19. Something Harris says is promising.

“You want to do something to protect yourself and nutrition is something we can do. There’s some evidence that higher vitamin D is helpful, that maybe zinc is helpful. Omega-3 is just another nutrient that you can get in your diet that really does look like it probably has an affect,” said Harris.

“It suggests to hopefully other researchers that they ought to look at bigger groups and see if they can confirm that finding.”

Keep in mind, this is just the beginning of this type of research. The Fatty Acid Research Institute is working on recreating this study, but on a larger scale to verify their results.

To read the full report published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids click here.

For more information on the Fatty Acid Research Institute click here.

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