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High Fish Consumption Could Be the Key to Lowering Risk of MS Development

A preliminary study shows that eating fish once a week or at least one to three times per month along with taking daily fish oil supplements can help lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Since fish like tuna, salmon and shrimp are high in omega-3 fatty acids, findings from the study suggest that they may be linked to a reduced risk of MS.

Researchers assessed the frequency of fish consumption in 1,153 people from various backgrounds. A speculated half of the participants enrolled in the study were diagnosed with MS or clinically isolated syndrome—a condition that is usually seen as the first episode of MS symptoms that last at least 24 hours.

Annette Langer-Gould, MD and PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, stated that while it is known that consuming fish high in omega-3 fatty acids has proved to have a variety of health benefits, they wanted to see if making this slight lifestyle change—regularly eating fish and taking fish oil supplements—could reduce the risk of MS.

The study was divided into two categories based on their fish consumption: High fish intake or low fish intake. Participants in the high fish intake group ate either one portion of fish per week or one to three portions per month alone with daily fish oil supplements. As for the low intake group, they are less than one portion of fish per month and did not take any fish oil supplements.

Some people were also found to regulate fatty acid levels more easily than others. Researchers came to this conclusion by looking at 13 mutations in genes that regulate fatty acid levels. Two mutations associated with a reduce risk of developing MS were found, even after accounting for a higher intake of fish.

The association between the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and the reduced risk of developing MS was emphasized, although it was not found to be a cause and effect relationship. In the future, researchers aim to assess how omega-3 fatty acids effect the metabolism, inflammation and nerve function in order to confirm the association.

Fish such as sardines, salmon, albacore tuna and lake trout are generally seen as good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.


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