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Omega-3 and Protein Supplementation May Improve Health of Dialysis Patients

Researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit have released a study suggesting that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and protein may increase serum albumin levels and reduce inflammation in individuals undergoing dialysis. Malnutrition and chronic inflammation can be very dangerous for dialysis patients.

Dialysis is the process of removing excess water from the blood when someone has suffered from kidney failure. When serum levels of the protein albumin are abnormally low it can be an indicator of chronic malnutrition. This can occur as a result of a loss of albumin in the urine due to kidney damage.

The results of the study were published in the March 2012 issue of Vascular Health Risk Management.

Participants in the study included 63 adults receiving dialysis treatment with serum albumin levels that were less than or equal to 3.9 g/dL. The normal range of serum albumin levels is 3.4 – 5.4 g/dL.

Over the course of 6 months, half of the group consumed a 30 mL liquid protein supplement plus 2.4 g of omega-3's while the other half was given a placebo three times daily. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted increased levels of C-reactive protein—a marker of inflammation—in the placebo group but not in the supplement group. They also noted higher serum albumin levels compared to baseline in the supplement group.

They concluded that supplementation with protein and omega-3's could improve nutrition and inflammation in people undergoing dialysis.

Omega-3s have been linked to an impressive number of other health benefits, including improved brain health, alleviating arthritis pain, better mood, improved joint mobility, helping with age-related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s, while ALA omega-3 fatty acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.

If you don’t like fish or you’re worried about the high mercury levels found in some fish, consider taking a daily high quality supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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