Oxidation of an oil rich in docosahexaenoic acid compared to linoleic acid in lactating women

Ann Nutr Metab. 1999;43(6):339-45. doi: 10.1159/000012802.


Background: We studied the oxidation of an oil rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; DHASCO((R))) in lactating mothers receiving a dietary DHA supplement or a placebo. The results were compared with the oxidation of linoleic acid.

Methods: Breast-feeding mothers received a dietary supplement (DHASCO; 200 mg DHA/day, n = 5) or a placebo (n = 5) for 14 days. Six weeks post partum all 10 mothers received a single dose of 2 mg/kg body weight uniformly (13)C-labeled DHASCO. In a previously reported study 6 mothers received 1 mg/kg body weight uniformly (13)C-labeled linoleic acid. Breath samples were collected over 48 h after tracer application. The total CO(2) production was measured by indirect calorimetry and the (13)C isotopic enrichment of labeled CO(2) by isotopic ratio mass spectrometry.

Results: The oxidation of (13)C-labeled DHASCO in the supplemented and placebo groups was similar. Maximal (13)C enrichment was reached earlier in the group receiving (13)C-DHASCO (median 1.0 vs. 3.0 h in the linoleic acid group). The cumulative (13)C recovery in breath was higher in the DHASCO versus the linoleic acid group until 10 h after tracer application and comparable thereafter.

Conclusions: The difference in oxidation of DHASCO versus linoleic acid after tracer ingestion might be partly due to a faster absorption and oxidation of shorter chain saturated fatty acids contained in DHASCO. The cumulative oxidation of DHASCO and linoleic acid 24 and 48 h after tracer ingestion is similar.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Linoleic Acid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Linoleic Acid