Calanus Oil may improve body composition in healthy untrained adults: RCT

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Lusyaya / Getty Images
© Lusyaya / Getty Images

Related tags: Calanus, omega-3, body composition, supplementation

Calanus Oil supplementation may promote fat loss when combined with resistance and aerobic training more than training alone, says a new study from Germany.

Healthy, untrained older adults lost an average of 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs) in fat mass after 12 weeks of resistance and aerobic training plus Calanus oil supplementation, compared to 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) when the training was combined with dietary counseling. The exercise regimen alone only produced a 0.2 kg (0.49 lbs) loss of fat mass.

Lean body mass also increased in the calanus oil group, by 0.8 kg (1.8 lbs), but not in the other exercise groups (with or without the dietary counseling).

 “Findings from this study indicate that moderate exercise combined with nutritional measures had beneficial effects in reduction of [fat mass],” ​wrote scientists from Leibniz University Hannover and Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Nutrients​.

“While changes within the [exercise plus dietary counseling] group may be explained by improved diet quality, the effects in the [exercise plus Calanus oil] group are likely driven through [omega-3 fatty acids] in Calanus Oil.”

Sourced from copepods

Calanus oil is extracted from the copepods of the same name Calanus finmarchicus. ​According to Salma et al. (Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids​, 2016, Vol. 108, pp. 13-21), Calanus finmarchicus​ is “the most abundant crustacean in the North Atlantic Ocean with annual production of several hundred million tonnes.

“The total annual harvest amounts to less than 0.01% of the annual growth in accordance with regulations by Norwegian fisheries management.”

Calanus oil contains the omega-3s EPA and DHA predominantly in the wax ester form (the oil is slightly viscous). The oil also contains astaxanthin, which gives its ruby color.

Wax esters are historically associated with penguin, seal, and whale oil, but are being produced by Norwegian company Calanus AS from C. finmarchicus.

Commenting on the new study, Alice Marie Pedersen, PhD, Head of Science for Calanus AS, said: “We see that intake of Calanus Oil has a stronger impact on fat reduction and increase in lean body mass when compared to the other treatment groups, including the group receiving dietary guidance.

“These results are highly encouraging and show that Calanus Oil impacts the energy metabolism of the body in a favorable direction beyond what can be explained by traditional omega-3 knowledge. This is the first human clinical trial to document body composition improvement, but we have already seen this in several preclinical studies.”

Study details

The researchers recruited 134 healthy, untrained adults with an average age of 59 and an average BMI of 28 to participate in their 12-week interventional study.

The participants were divided into four groups: All participants, except the control group, performed two hours of exercise per week. Additionally, one group was supplemented with Calanus Oil (2 grams per day, provided by Calanus AS) and one group received dietary guidance.

While improvements in body composition were recorded in the exercise groups receiving calanus oil and dietary counseling, no significant changes were recorded for markers of glucose or lipid metabolism in any of the groups, although a trend towards improved fasting insulin was observed in groups receiving the dietary counseling and calanus oil.

Commenting on the potential mechanism of action, the researchers noted that several potential mechanisms have been proposed for omega-3s and fat mass loss, including “increased fat oxidation, improved adipocyte function (i.e., increased lipolysis and reduced lipogenesis) as well as reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress in the adipose tissue.”

“Future research should investigate potential effects of a healthy diet (rich in n-3 PUFAs) vs. CO supplementation with and without exercise, particularly in regards to body composition,” ​they concluded.

Source: Nutrients
2020, 12(7), 2139; doi: 10.3390/nu12072139
“Effects of Exercise Combined with a Healthy Diet or ​Calanus finmarchicus Oil Supplementation on Body Composition and Metabolic Markers—A Pilot Study”
Authors: P. Wasserfurth et al.

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