Effect of omega-3 supplementation on neuropathy in type 1 diabetes
Neuropathy affects over 50% of type 1 diabetics (DT1); glycaemic control can help slow its progress, but not reverse it. Given that studies in animal models show that ingesting high amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) is related to longer nerve fibres, suggesting that these acids can help slow or stop the progression of neuropathy, a group of researchers at the University of Toronto conducted a study on humans.
To do this, they supplemented 40 subjects with DT1 (23 with clinical diabetic sensory and motor neuropathy and 17 without pain) with n-3 PUFA (750 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid, 560 mg of docosapentaenoic acid and 1020 mg of docosahexaenoic acid/day) and measured changes in corneal nerve fibre length (in vivo, by corneal confocal microscopy). The length increased significantly after 12 months’ supplementation (by an average of 29%).
This suggests that type 1 diabetics with pain due to nerve injury could benefit from the remittance of this injury by ingesting omega-3 fatty acids.