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Lipids. 1997 Mar;32(3):341-5.

Dietary docosahexaenoic acid as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid in vegetarians and omnivores.

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


The utilization of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) via retroconversion was investigated in both vegetarians and omnivores. For this purpose, an EPA-free preparation of DHA was given as a daily supplement (1.62 g DHA) over a period of 6 wk. The dietary supplement provided for a marked increase in DHA levels in both serum phospholipid (from 2.1 to 7.1 mol% in vegetarians and 2.2 to 7.6 mol% in omnivores) and platelet phospholipid (from 1.1 to 3.4 mol% in vegetarians and 1.4 to 3.9 mol% in omnivores). EPA levels rose to a significant but much lesser extent, while 20:4n-6, 22:5n-6, and 22:5n-3 all decreased. Based on the serum phospholipid data, the retroconversion of DHA to EPA in vivo was estimated to be 9.4% overall with no significant difference between omnivores and vegetarians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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