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Lipids and cardiovascular/metabolic health

Bioavailability of long-chain n-3 fatty acids from enriched meals and from microencapsulated powder

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Despite the potential benefits of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC n-3 PUFAs), intake is often low because of low consumption of oily seafood. Microencapsulated fish oil powder can improve tolerance and acceptance of LC n-3 PUFAs. Bioavailability is important to achieve efficacy. We investigated the bioavailability of LC n-3 PUFAs from microencapsulated powder in comparison with meals enriched with liquid fish oil.


Participants (N=99, age⩾50 years) of this 4-week double-blinded dietary intervention were randomized into three groups. Group 1 (n=38) received 1.5 g/d eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as ready-to-eat meals enriched with liquid fish oil; group 2 (n=30) received the same amount of these LC n-3 PUFAs as microencapsulated fish oil powder and regular meals; and group 3 (n=31) was the control group, which received placebo powder and regular meals. Blood samples were taken from fingertips at baseline and at the end point.


Seventy-seven subjects (77.8%) completed the study. The amount of EPA in blood doubled in both groups that received LC n-3 PUFAs (P<0.05), but it did not change in the control group. The changes in DHA were less but still significant in both intervention groups. According to multivariate analysis, both intervention groups had higher end-point LC n-3 PUFA concentrations compared with placebo, but differences between intervention groups were not significant.


Bioavailability of LC n-3 PUFAs in encapsulated powder is very similar to the bioavailability of LC n-3 PUFAs in ready-to-eat meals enriched with liquid fish oil. Thus, encapsulated powder can be considered useful to increase LC n-3 PUFA concentrations in blood.

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This project was funded by Nordic Innovation no 11057: Enriched Convenience Seafood Products. The test meals were provided by Grimur Kokkur ehf, Vestmanneyjar, Iceland; the microencapsulated powder was provided by BioActive Foods AS, Trondheim, Norway. None of these three entities participated in data collection, data interpretation or publication.

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Correspondence to A Ramel.

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Hinriksdottir, H., Jonsdottir, V., Sveinsdottir, K. et al. Bioavailability of long-chain n-3 fatty acids from enriched meals and from microencapsulated powder. Eur J Clin Nutr 69, 344–348 (2015).

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