, 40:807 | Cite as

Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in vegetarians effectively increases omega-3 index: A randomized trial

  • Julia Geppert
  • Veronika Kraft
  • Hans Demmelmair
  • Berthold Koletzko


Low red blood cell (RBC) membrane content of FPA+DHA (hereafter called omega-3 index) has recently been described as an indicator for increased risk of death from coronary heart disease. The relationship between plasma and RBC FA, focusing on omega-3 index, and the response to DHA supplementation were investigated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, intervention study. Healthy vegetarians (87 f, 17 m) consumed daily a microalgae oil from Ulkenia sp. (0.94 g DHA/d) or olive oil (placebo) for 8 wk. DHA supplementation significantly increased DHA in RBC total lipids (7.9 vs. 4.4 wt%), in RBC PE (12.1 vs. 6.5 wt%), in RBC PC (3.8 vs. 1.4 wt%), and in plasma phospholipids (PL) (7.4 vs. 2.8 wt%), whereas EPA levels rose to a much lesser extent. Microalgae oil supplementation increased the omega-3 index from 4.8 to 8.4 wt%. After intervention, 69% of DHA-supplemented subjects (but no subject of the placebo group) reached an omega-3 index above the desirable value of 8 wt%. Omega-3 index and EPA+DHA levels in RBC PE, RBC PC, and plasma PL were closely correlated (r always >0.9). We conclude that an 8-wk supplementation with 0.94 g DHA/d from microalgae oil achieves a beneficial omega-3 index of ≥8% in most subjects with low basal EPA+DHA status. RBC total FA analyses can be used instead of RBC lipid fraction analyses for assessing essential FA status, e.g., in clinical studies.


Microalgae Lipid Fraction Plasma Phospholipid Methanolic Hydrochloric Acid Platelet Phospholipid Fatty Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



arachidonic acid


α-linolenic acid


body mass index


coronary heart disease


docosapentaenoic acid


linoleic acid


long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid


oleic acid, 18∶1n−9


palmitic acid, 16∶0




red blood cells


saturated fatty acid


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Copyright information

© AOCS Press 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Geppert
    • 1
  • Veronika Kraft
    • 1
  • Hans Demmelmair
    • 1
  • Berthold Koletzko
    • 1
  1. 1.Div. Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition, Dr. von Hauner Children’s HospitalLudwig Maximilians University of MunichMunichGermany

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