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Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99(2):360-9. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Co-supplementation of healthy women with fish oil and evening primrose oil increases plasma docosahexaenoic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid levels without reducing arachidonic acid concentrations.

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  • 1Division of Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition, Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany.


Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy not only improves maternal and neonatal DHA status, but often reduces gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-GLA (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (ARA) levels also, which may compromise foetal and infant development. The present study investigated the effects of a fish oil/evening primrose oil (FSO/EPO) blend (456 mg DHA/d and 353 mg GLA/d) compared to a placebo (mixture of habitual dietary fatty acids) on the plasma fatty acid (FA) composition in two groups of twenty non-pregnant women using a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel design. FA were quantified in plasma total lipids, phospholipids, cholesterol esters, and TAG at weeks 0, 4, 6 and 8. After 8 weeks of intervention, percentage changes from baseline values of plasma total lipid FA were significantly different between FSO/EPO and placebo for GLA (+49.9 % v. +2.1 %, means), DGLA (+13.8 % v. +0.7 %) and DHA (+59.6 % v. +5.5 %), while there was no significant difference for ARA ( - 2.2 % v. - 5.9 %). FA changes were largely comparable between plasma lipid fractions. In both groups three subjects reported mild adverse effects. As compared with placebo, FSO/EPO supplementation did not result in any physiologically relevant changes of safety parameters (blood cell count, liver enzymes). In women of childbearing age the tested FSO/EPO blend was well tolerated and appears safe. It increases plasma GLA, DGLA, and DHA levels without impairing ARA status. These data provide a basis for testing this FSO/EPO blend in pregnant women for its effects on maternal and neonatal FA status and infant development.

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