Fish Oils Found To Boost Immunity
As the Southern Hemisphere hurtles towards the winter months and cold and flu season again, a new trial has found that fish oils may play an important role in maintaining healthy immune function.
While the role of fish oils (particularly EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oils) in reducing inflammation is well known, information on the immunological effects of these fats is currently quite limited.
Interestingly, this research shows that fish oils do significantly impact immune function in vivo and in mice, largely due to their effects on the organisation of cellular membranes.
Researchers found that DHA fats are incorporated into cellular membrane structures of immune B-cells and can thereby modify lymphocyte (immune cell) function through cellular signalling pathways to benefit situations where the body is challenged by infections.
B-Cells are the immune cells involved in the production of antibodies in response to immune threats, and B-Cell dysfunction is now known to play a key role in inflammatory processes too.
Low B-Cell levels or function is commonly associated with recurrent gastrointestinal and respiratory infections throughout childhood and onwards, so B-Cell activation by fish oil supplementation may offer a novel treatment approach for immuno- compromised individuals.
Further study is required for researchers to fully understand the effects of fish oils on immune function. However this research provides more clarity on the situation, and reveals that fish oils do not necessarily reduce the entire immune response in order to lower inflammation in the body.
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Gurzell, E.A. et al. 2013, DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid micro domains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function, Journal of Leukocyte Biology