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Fish oil reduces disease risk in animal offspring

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Supplementing with fish oil during pregnancy can reduce the risk of diseases in rat's offspring as adults

Supplementing with fish oil during pregnancy can reduce the risk of diseases in rat's offspring as adults. Scientists in Pune, India, recently investigated the effects of fish oil and folic acid (both conventional supplements used in human maternal interventions) on risk factors in rats.

Pregnant rats from four groups (six rats in each group) were fed casein diets with 18 grams/100 grams protein (control diet), 12 g/100 g protein plus eight milligrams folic acid/kg diet (0.08 mg/kg diet) (FAS), 12 g/100 g protein without folic acid (FAD) or 12 g/100 g protein plus seven g/100 g fish oil (FOIL).

The young were weaned to a standard 18 g/100 g protein diet. Serum glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and plasma homocysteine levels were measured at six and 11 months. Serum glucose in 11-month-old pups was greater in the FAS and FAD groups than in controls.

Serum insulin concentrations were higher in the FAD group, but lower in males from the FAS group compared with controls. Glucose and insulin concentrations didn't differ between the control and FOIL groups. Plasma homocysteine levels were lower only in 11-month old folate-deficient males; none of the other groups differed from the controls.

Researchers concluded that maternal supplementation of fish oil was beneficial in maintaining circulating glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and homocysteine levels in the offspring as adults.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, October 2003.

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