(HealthDay News) – For older adults who are healthy but overweight and sedentary, taking omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can reduce levels of inflammatory markers, according to a study published online May 26 in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Janice K Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues examined levels of markers of inflammation in 138 healthy, sedentary, overweight adults (average age, 51.04 years), randomly assigned to placebo or 2.5g/d or 1.25g/d omega-3 PUFAs for four months. The placebo contained the proportions of fatty acids in the typical American diet.

The researchers found that serum interleukin-6 levels fell in the omega-3 supplemented groups (by 10% and 12% for the low and high dose, respectively) but increased by 36% in the placebo group. Similarly, serum tumor necrosis factor alpha levels showed modest changes in the omega-3 supplemented groups (by 0.2% and −2.3% for the low and high dose, respectively) but rose by 12% in the placebo group. Supplementation had no significant effect on depressive symptoms, which were low at baseline.

“This is the first study to show that omega-3 supplementation leads to changes in inflammatory markers in the blood in overweight but otherwise healthy people,” Kiecolt-Glaser said in a statement. “In terms of regulating inflammation when people are already healthy, this is an important study, in that it suggests one way to keep them healthy.”

OmegaBrite provided the omega-3 supplement and placebo without charge or restrictions.

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