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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Nov;51(11):736-42.

Serum phospholipid fatty acid composition and habitual intake of marine foods registered by a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire.

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Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway.



To examine the relation between consumption of fish and fish products registered by a comprehensive food frequency questionnaire and the composition of fatty acids in serum phospholipids.


Cross-section study.


Cardiovascular screening centre in Trondheim, Mid-Norway.


Of 256 eligible women 242 agreed to participate in the present study. Altogether 234 middle-aged women (91.4%) completed the questionnaire and gave a valid blood sample.


Total frequency consumption of fish for dinner showed only weak association with serum phospholipid fatty acid composition. In separate analyses of lean and fatty fish, consumption of fatty fish was negatively associated with n-6 and positively associated with n-3 fatty acids in serum phospholipids, while no significant associations were found for lean fish consumption. Cod liver oil consumption was strongly related to the phospholipid fatty acid composition. The associations improved moderately when adding portion size information. Spearman's correlation coefficient between dietary intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and serum phospholipid EPA was 0.58, and Spearman's correlation coefficient between intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and serum phospholipid DHA was 0.53.


This study suggests that in populations with a high consumption of fish and cod liver oil, habitual intake can be reflected in serum phospholipids. However, as the fat content of fish is highly variable, separate registration of lean and fatty fish consumption is needed.

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