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Dietary intake of fish vs. formulations leads to higher plasma concentrations of n−3 fatty acids

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The n−3 fatty acids from fish appear to be more efficacious, in terms of cardioprotection, than equivalent amounts provided as capsules. Volunteers were given, for 6 wk, either 100 g/d of salmon, providing 383 mg of EPA and 544 mg of DHA, esterified in glycerol lipids, or 1 or 3 capsules of fish oil/d, providing 150 mg of EPA and 106 mg of DHA or 450 mg of EPA and 318 mg of DHA, as ethyl esters. Further, we reevaluated data from a previous study carried out with the same design, i.e., with 3 and 6 capsules/d of fish oil, providing 1290 and 2580 mg/d EPA and 960 and 1920 mg/d DHA. Marked increments in plasma EPA and DHA concentrations (μg/mg total lipid) and percentages of total fatty acids were recorded at the end of treatment with either n−3 capsules or salmon. Net increments of EPA and DHA in plasma lipids were linearly and significantly correlated with the dose after capsule administration. Further, increments in plasma EPA and DHA concentration after salmon intake were significantly higher than after administration of capsules. The same increments would be obtained with at least two- and ninefold higher doses of EPA and DHA, respectively, if administered with capsules rather than salmon. We provide experimental evidence that n−3 fatty acids from fish are more effectively incorporated into plasma lipids than when administered as capsules and that increments in plasma concentrations of EPA and DHA given as capsules are linearly correlated with their intakes.

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Correspondence to Francesco Visioli.

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Visioli, F., Risé, P., Barassi, M.C. et al. Dietary intake of fish vs. formulations leads to higher plasma concentrations of n−3 fatty acids. Lipids 38, 415–418 (2003).

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