U of M study finds fish oil may lower risk of COVID-19 infections

By Alex Karpa

New research from the University of Manitoba suggests that fish oil may lower the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The oil could be the first non-pharmaceutical supplement to fight the virus.

“What was found is real and it looks like there is a potential that it will be able to prevent infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” explained Dr. Peter Zahradka, principal investigator of molecular physiology and researcher at the University of Manitoba. “We’re very excited; this is something that is really neat.”

U of M researchers working at both the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research and St. Boniface Research Centre in Winnipeg have discovered animals consuming fish oil have fewer waypoints for the virus to enter into the heart, aorta, and kidneys.

Dr. Zahradka says consumption of fish oil led to a 50 to 75 per cent reduction of a protein called ACE2.

“That’s a protein found on the external surface of many cells in the body and is to one which the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to so then it could get inside the cells and infect them.”

Dr. Zahradka says lowering the levels means the cells cannot become infected as easily.


He says the discovery was somewhat of an accident, found when his team was looking at the potential benefits fish oil has on the linkage between metabolic and cardiovascular physiology.

“In a way, it was a fluke because it’s not our area of research, but at the same time, it’s the question that we asked ourselves is, ‘can we do this?’ and that is and that’s the way basic scientific discovery happens.”

This discovery comes amidst a new highly contagious variant, XBB 1.5 also known as “Kraken” which is sweeping across North America. Dr. Zahradka says fish oil could become a possible new tool in the fight against COVID-19.

“That is what we find quite exciting. At this point, we have no proof that it will be helpful for people but what we are speculating based on what we are finding, if you have fish oil and you take it on a daily basis, it will reduce the ability the virus to infect you,” said Zahradka.

Dr. Zahradka says more research is needed to confirm whether or not humans have the same results as animals. He states this research is imperative because fish oil and its effects will not change over time.

“We know the potency of the vaccine goes down with time. Fish oil should be working fine the same way, all the time. The fish oil would not be variant dependent. It doesn’t matter which variant it is circulating around – it should have the same effect.”

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