A new discovery about the health benefits of fish oil could pave the way to new treatments for life-threatening conditions such as arthritis and strokes, claim scientists. Researchers found that the body converts a fatty acid in fish oils into a powerful anti-inflammatory chemical called resolvin D2. It was this compound that accounted for the ability of the oil found in fish such as salmon and mackeral to combat diseases.
Britons spend £60 million a year on fish oil supplements after research suggesting they are good for the brain, bones and heart and can even protect against cancer, eye problems and back pain.
But the mechanism for this “elixir of health” had not been known until British and US researchers showed how the body makes Resolvin D2 from DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and discovered its exact chemical structure
The British and American scientists believe resolvin D2 could provide the basis of new treatments for a range of serious diseases which involve inflammation.
The list includes sepsis – a potentially deadly reaction to infection which causes inflammation to rage through the body – stroke, and arthritis.
Laboratory experiments showed how the body converts the fish oil fatty acid DHA into resolvin D2, and revealed the chemical’s structure.
Professor Mauro Perretti, from Queen Mary, University of London, who led the UK team, said: “We have known for some time that fish oils can help with conditions like arthritis which are linked to inflammation. What we’ve shown here is how the body processes a particular ingredient of fish oils into resolvin D2. …
Inflammation, caused when the immune system goes into “overdrive”, is known to play a role in many health problems ranging from heart disease and stroke to arthritis and cancer.
Previous research has shown that a key step in the inflammatory process occurs when white blood cells stick to the inner lining of blood vessels.
Flax oil, in my experience, has even more powerful anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve been taking 2 tablespoons of cold pressed organic flax seed oil every morning for several years in my morning milk shake. I like fish, but I just don’t like the taste of fish oil.