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Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 May;53(5):1185-90.

Absorption of the n-3 eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids as ethyl esters and triglycerides by humans.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland.


Five normolipemic subjects received three test meals containing 28 g n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids provided as 1) triglycerides, 2) ethyl esters, and 3) ethyl esters + 12 g olive oil. The control meal contained olive oil. When equivalent amounts of fat were given, the increase in chylomicron and plasma triglycerides was similar; n-3 fatty acid contents were also similar after n-3 fatty acid intake as ethyl esters or triglycerides. Ethyl esters alone were well absorbed and produced similar n-3 fatty acid responses in plasma triglycerides and chylomicrons. At 24 h after the n-3 fatty acid-containing meals, the fatty acid plasma concentration of these acids was similar. This study showed that n-3 fatty acids in fish oil given as ethyl esters or triglycerides were equally well absorbed. Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids were also equally absorbed.

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