Can EPA & DHA help with COVID19?

Unsaturated fat can be divided into two, Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), usually rich in food such as olive oil, canola oil, cashew, and groundnuts, whilst another type is polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which can further be divided into Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are also referred to as omega 3 Fatty acids. It can be found in fatty fish and algae.

 

Benefits of EPA and DHA

 

There are various benefits of EPA and DHA, among well studied one is its relation to cardiovascular disease. Many studies show that consuming food high with EPA and DHA or consume it from dietary supplement is able to reduce level of triglycerides. Which is why American Heart Association (AHA) recommend people who have high risk of getting heart disease consuming about 1g of EPA plus DHA daily. According to Joseph C. Maroon, MD, professor of the department of neurological surgery at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and author of Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory book; large enough amount of omega 3 will reduce the inflammatory process that leads to many chronic conditions. Which is why many other diseases which have the genesis of inflammation such as arthritis problem, dry eyes, age related macular degeneration (AMD), dementia, Alzheimer and cognitive problem may also help with the consumption of omega 3 for it has the anti-inflammatory effect. But what about COVID-19?

 

 

 


EPA & DHA with COVID19?

 

As COVID-19 is a new disease, there are many things that is not yet discovered about the disease by the scientist but among potential management and treatment that scientist is looking at is regarding the relation between EPA and DHA with COVID19. Since many well documented studies suggest that EPA and DHA have potential benefits for COVID19 due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

 

COVID19 is a disease where it attacks body’s immune system. The attack causes the body to activate its immune system and fight the disease. During the war, body defense system work by releasing cytokine. This is what scientist refers to as ‘cytokine storm’. The higher the cytokine in the body, the less possibility for the body to win the war. This is based on study that was conducted previously among sepsis (a condition when body’s response to an infection damages its own tissue) patients. When EPA and DHA is administered, resolvin is release which involve in promoting restoration to the cellular function following inflammation that occurs after tissue injury. Which explains why administration and consumption of diet high with EPA and DHA is being studied as a potential mechanism for COVID19. Other than this study, a meta-analysis study also reported that significant reduction in ventilator-free days, organ failures, length of stay in the ICU and low mortality rate among individuals with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is also seen with the administration of high EPA and DHA through parenteral and enteral nutrition. Since ARDS is one of the complications occur to COVID19 critically ill patients thus the same outcome is postulated to be seen.

 

 

Other parameter that is use in measuring severity of COVID19 especially among critically ill COVID19 patients are their body’s coagulation ability. It is said that, among non-survivor of COVID19 patients are those who has higher ability of platelet aggregation and activation. Easily translate, the patients’ blood are easily clump which makes it have higher risk of thrombosis (clotting) which will result in death threatening condition. An investigation using moderate amount of three species of high omega 3 (EPA & DHA) fish in 18 days by 23 healthy men revealed that it can improved bleeding time and decreased platelet aggregation which will reduce risk of thrombosis among COVID19 patients. Another study also noted that healthy subject that is supplemented with EPA for 4 weeks also showed reduction of platelet activation (an early step of platelet aggregation).

 

In conclusion  

 

 Administration or consumption of EPA and DHA may help with critically ill COVID19 patients’ conditions. However, the usage of EPA and DHA among healthy individuals as prophylaxis to COVID19 must be investigated since little known about the virus pathology and how the characteristics of the patients are involved in the recovery. Thus, studies suggest that randomized and controlled trials need to be carried out, taking into account the type of supplementation, dosage, individuals’ characteristics, adverse effects and the combination of medication and antioxidants using.

 

References


  1. National Institute of Health (NIH). Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact sheet for consumer. Omega 3 Fatty Acids. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/ (Accessed on Feb 4, 2021).
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH). Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact sheet for Health Professionals. Omega 3 Fatty Acids. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed on Feb 4, 2021).
  3. Nourish by WebMD. What to know about Omega 3 and fish? Annie Stuart. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-to-know-about-omega-3s-and-fish#1 (Accessed on Feb 4, 2021).
  4. Rogero, M. M., Leão, M. D. C., Santana, T. M., de MB Pimentel, M. V., Carlini, G. C., da Silveira, T. F., … & Castro, I. A. (2020). Potential benefits and risks of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation to patients with COVID-19. Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
  5. Bistrian B. R. (2020). Parenteral Fish-Oil Emulsions in Critically Ill COVID-19 Emulsions.  Journal of parenteral and enteral nutrition44(7), 1168. https://doi.org/10.1002/jpen.1871.