Effect of fish oil on the fatty acid composition of human milk and maternal and infant erythrocytes

Lipids. 1992 Nov;27(11):863-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02535865.


To examine the effect of fish oil supplementation on the fatty acid (FA) composition of human milk and maternal and infant erythrocytes, five lactating women were supplemented with 6 g of fish oil daily for 21 d. Usual maternal diets contained 1,147 mg of total n-3 FA, with 120 mg from very long-chain (> C18) n-3 FA. Supplementation increased dietary levels to 3,092 mg of total n-3 FA and 2,006 mg of very long-chain n-3 FA. Milk samples were collected daily, prior to fish oil ingestion, and at 4-h intervals on days 1, 7, 14 and 21. Milk n-3 FA content increased within 8 h and reached steady state levels within one week. The n-6 fatty acid content decreased. Erythrocyte eicosapentaenoic acid content increased from 0.24% to 1.4% (P < 0.01) in mothers and from 0.11% to 0.70% (P < 0.05) in infants. Docosapentaenoic acid increased from 1.4% to 2.2% (P < 0.05) in mothers and from 0.30% to 0.78% (P < 0.01) in infants. There was no significant change in docosahexaenoic acid or n-6 fatty acid content. Maternal platelet aggregation responses were variable. No differences in milk or plasma tocopherol levels were noted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Platelet Aggregation


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fish Oils
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • docosapentaenoic acid