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Br J Nutr. 2006 Apr;95(4):779-86.

Microalgal docosahexaenoic acid decreases plasma triacylglycerol in normolipidaemic vegetarians: a randomised trial.

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  • 1Division of Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition, Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Lindwurmstrasse 4, D-80337 Munich, Germany.


Triacylglycerol (TG) lowering effects of n-3 long-chain PUFA (n-3 LCPUFA) have been repeatedly demonstrated, but studies investigating the individual effects of EPA or DHA on plasma TG and lipoproteins in man are rare. The effects of a new DHA-rich, almost EPA-free microalgae oil (Ulkenia sp.) on plasma lipids and several safety parameters were investigated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design intervention study. Normolipidaemic vegetarians (eighty-seven females, twenty-seven males) consumed daily microalgae oil (0.94 g DHA/d) or olive oil (as placebo) for 8 weeks. DHA supplementation decreased plasma TG by 23 % from 1.08 (sem 0.07) to 0.83 (sem 0.04) mmol/l (P<0.001). Absolute TG decreases after DHA supplementation were inversely correlated to baseline TG concentrations (r -0.627, P<0.001). Plasma total, LDL and HDL cholesterol increased significantly in the DHA group, resulting in lower TG:HDL cholesterol and unchanged LDL:HDL and total cholesterol:HDL cholesterol ratios. The intake of DHA-rich microalgae oil did not result in any physiologically relevant changes of safety and haemostatic factors. In conclusion, DHA-rich oil from microalgae Ulkenia sp. was well tolerated and can be considered a suitable vegetarian source of n-3 LCPUFA. Although DHA supplementation improved some CHD risk factors (plasma TG, TG:HDL cholesterol ratio), LDL cholesterol increased. Therefore, the overall effects of this intervention on CHD risk deserve further investigation.

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