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Blood omega-3 fatty acids and death from COVID-19: A Pilot Study

Asher A, Tintle N, Myers M, Lockshon L, Bacareza H, Harris W (2021) Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids  DOI:10.1016/j.plefa.2021.102250 

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Very-long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 infection. We conducted a pilot study in 100 patients to test the hypothesis that RBC EPA+DHA levels (the Omega-3 Index, O3I) would be inversely associated with risk for death by analyzing the O3I in banked blood samples drawn at hospital admission.

Fourteen patients died, one of 25 in quartile 4 (Q4) (O3I ≥5.7%) and 13 of 75 in Q1-3. After adjusting for age and sex, the odds ratio for death in patients with an O3I in Q4 vs Q1-3 was 0.25, p=0.07.

Although not meeting the classical criteria for statistical significance, this strong trend suggests that a relationship may indeed exist, but more well-powered studies are clearly needed.

  • Nutrition-based interventions to reduce COVID-19 morbidity/mortality are needed.
  • The Omega-3 Index (O3I) was measured in banked blood from 100 COVID-19 patients.
  • Risk for death was analyzed as a function of quartiles (Q) of the O3I.
  • Patients in Q4 (O3I ≥ 5.7%) vs. Q1-3 were 75% less likely to die (p=0.07).
  • These pilot data suggest that a higher O3I may lower risk for death from COVID-19.



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