Calanus oil may improve glucose and insulin measures in obese people: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© AndreyPopov / Getty Images
© AndreyPopov / Getty Images

Related tags Calanus copepod omega-3 calanus oil Insulin resistance

Supplements with Calanus Oil derived from tiny sea crustaceans may improve measures of glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in obese people, says a new study from Germany.

Writing in Nutrients​, scientists from Leibniz University Hannover and Hannover Medical School report that 12 weeks of calanus oil supplements led to significant reductions in fasting plasma insulin and HOMA-IR in obese people.

Significant improvements in hepatic insulin resistance index (HIRI) were also reported from Calanus oil supplementation, but no impacts were seen on other measures, such as HbA1c.

“Our results indicate that Calanus oil causes beneficial effects on glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in obese patients, with clinical relevance to be verified in further studies,” ​wrote the scientists.

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 Zooca (formerly Calanus AS) from C. finmarchicus. ​Zooca/ Calanus AS funded the new study.

Commenting on the new study, Jan Erik Olsen, Head of Sales and Marketing Human Health & Nutrition for Zooca, told us: "The main objective [of this collaborative study with The University in Hannover] is to define the best endpoints for future studies aimed towards health claims applications in different markets.

"Overall, we have seen favorable effects on metabolism (fat deposition, blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity) throughout all the preclinical studies and now also in several human clinical trials," ​said Olsen. "I would say that for each finding like this, the case of Zooca Lipids as a remedy for the most serious pandemic, namely the obesity pandemic with all the consequences, like insulin resistance/diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is very promising. It is probably too much to expect one supplement to be the one solution, but we believe that Zooca Lipids can play an important role in the lives of many people around the world. These findings strengthen our belief in this."

Study details

Led by Milena Burhop, the scientists recruited 43 obese people to participate in their randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either two grams per day of calanus oil (Zooca/ Calanus AS) or placebo, for 12 weeks.

Data showed that the calanus oil group experienced significant improvements in a range of biomarkers, compared to placebo. Specifically, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR, and HIRI significantly improved after 12 weeks of calanus oil supplementation.

No significant differences between the groups were reported for other measures, including HbA1c, 2-hour plasma glucose, and muscle insulin sensitivity index. In addition, there were no changes between the groups for C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

“The clinical relevance of these effects should be verified in future studies,” ​stated the researchers. “To further elucidate the preventive and treatment potential of [calanus oil] on insulin resistance, RCTs should be carried out with patients exhibiting isolated IGT [impaired glucose tolerance] or both IFG [impaired fasting glucose] and IGT.

“In addition, further studies should consider the potential mechanisms of action of [calanus oil] on glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, i.e., with particular attention on the mediators regulating low-grade inflammation and body composition.”

Source: Nutrients
2022, 14​(2), 396; doi: 10.3390/nu14020396
“Marine Oil from ​C. finmarchicus Enhances Glucose Homeostasis and Liver Insulin Resistance in Obese Prediabetic Individuals”
Authors: M. Burhop et al.

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