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Nutrition. 2002 Jul-Aug;18(7-8):627-30.

Fatty acid compositions of serum phospholipids of postmenopausal women: a comparison between Greenland Inuit and Canadians before and after supplementation with fish oil.

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Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.



We compared serum phospholipid fatty acid compositions, in particular the status of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), of postmenopausal Greenland Inuit women and postmenopausal Canadian women at baseline and after supplementing the Canadian women with a fish-oil product.


Fasting serum samples were collected from 15 Inuit subjects from Greenland and 16 non-Inuit subjects from Canada. In addition, eight Canadian subjects provided fasting serum samples after completing a long-chain omega-3 PUFA intervention (2.4 g of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] plus 1.6 g of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] per day) for 28 d. Fatty acid compositions of serum phospholipids of the samples were determined and compared by one-way analysis of variance.


In comparison with the Greenlanders, baseline Canadian women had 73% and 46% less EPA (20:5omega-3) and DHA (22:6omega-3), respectively, and 32% and 91% more linoleic acid (LA; 18:2omega-6) and arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4omega-6), respectively. The omega-3 supplementation in Canadian women increased DHA and decreased LA levels to approach those in Greenland Inuit and raised EPA levels to surpass (45% higher) those in Greenland women (P < 0.0001). In contrast, AA was only moderately lowered (by 16% overall) such that AA levels remained 62% higher in the supplemented Canadians than in the Greenlanders (P < 0.0001).


Short-term EPA plus DHA supplementation of postmenopausal North American women can mimic the high EPA and DHA levels and lower LA levels in corresponding Inuit women but not the markedly lower levels of AA. The present findings also support the hypothesis of genetically decreased Delta5-desaturase potential in the Greenland Inuit compared with Canadian postmenopausal women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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