Question: What are Omega 3's? Should I be taking them to help control my blood sugar levels?
Answer: Omega 3 fatty acids (commonly called "Omega 3's" have become popular supplements. We can get Omega 3 from various food sources including fatty fish (such as salmon), certain vegetable oils (such as canola or soybean), walnuts and wheat germ. Omega 3's can help with the relaxation and contraction of muscles, blood clotting, digestion and even fertility! They have also been associated with reducing inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood). Unfortunately, the studies that were done on Omega 3's showing a reduction in heart disease risk were not done on people with diabetes. So we are not certain of that connection.
There have been studies conducted on Omega 3 supplements in type 2 diabetics that showed reduction of triglyceride levels, but Omega 3's do not seem to effect blood glucose levels. These studies showed that Omega 3's do not lower total cholesterol and might actual raise LDL (or "bad" cholesterol") in people with diabetes. More studies are needed.
If you are allergic to fish, taking a blood thinner (such as Coumadin), are pregnant, breast feeding, or are taking high blood pressure medications please do not take any Omega 3 supplements without your doctors permission.
It is very important not to replace proper diet, exercise or prescribed medications with supplements. Supplements can be a great adjunct to your diabetes regime if they are properly integrated into your overall care plan and approved by your doctor. If you are taking a supplement, always consult with your medical doctor before taking a supplement.