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Br J Nutr. 2016 Sep;116(5):788-97. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516002713. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

Lipid structure does not modify incorporation of EPA and DHA into blood lipids in healthy adults: a randomised-controlled trial.

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1Academic Unit of Human Development and Health,University of Southampton,Southampton SO16 6YD,UK.


Dietary supplementation is an effective means to improve EPA and DHA status. However, it is unclear whether lipid structure affects EPA+DHA bioavailability. We determined the effect of consuming different EPA and DHA lipid structures on their concentrations in blood during the postprandial period and during dietary supplementation compared with unmodified fish oil TAG (uTAG). In a postprandial cross-over study, healthy men (n 9) consumed in random order test meals containing 1·1 g EPA+0·37 g DHA as either uTAG, re-esterified TAG, free fatty acids (FFA) or ethyl esters (EE). In a parallel design supplementation study, healthy men and women (n 10/sex per supplement) consumed one supplement type for 12 weeks. Fatty acid composition was determined by GC. EPA incorporation over 6 h into TAG or phosphatidylcholine (PC) did not differ between lipid structures. EPA enrichment in NEFA was lower from EE than from uTAG (P=0·01). Plasma TAG, PC or NEFA DHA incorporation did not differ between lipid structures. Lipid structure did not affect TAG or NEFA EPA incorporation and PC or NEFA DHA incorporation following dietary supplementation. Plasma TAG peak DHA incorporation was greater (P=0·02) and time to peak shorter (P=0·02) from FFA than from uTAG in men. In both studies, the order of EPA and DHA incorporation was PC>TAG>NEFA. In conclusion, EPA and DHA lipid structure may not be an important consideration in dietary interventions.


DHA; EE ethyl esters; EPA; FFA free fatty acids; Lipid structure; PC phosphatidylcholine; PUFA; Postprandial; UTAG unmodified fish oil TAG; iAUC incremental AUC; rTAG re-esterified TAG

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