, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 341–345

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

  • Julie A. Conquer
  • Bruce J. Holub

DOI: 10.1007/s11745-997-0043-y

Cite this article as:
Conquer, J.A. & Holub, B.J. Lipids (1997) 32: 341. doi:10.1007/s11745-997-0043-y


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.



acid citrate dextrose


docosahexaenoic acid


eicosapentaenoic acid

Copyright information

© AOCS Press 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie A. Conquer
    • 1
  • Bruce J. Holub
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Biology and Nutritional SciencesUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada