Is docosahexaenoic acid more effective than eicosapentaenoic acid for increasing calcium bioavailability?

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005 Nov;73(5):327-34. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2005.08.001.


Experimental animal and human studies have indicated that long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) may enhance calcium absorption, reduce urinary calcium excretion, and increase bone calcium content. In the present study, the effect of LCPUFA, as provided in evening primrose oil, fish and tuna oils, on calcium bioavailability was investigated. Growing male rats were fed a semi-synthetic diet for 6 weeks, after which calcium absorption, bone mineral density (ex vivo), bone calcium content, and bone biomechanics were measured. Calcium absorption, ex vivo bone mineral density, and bone calcium content were significantly higher in the animals fed tuna oil compared with those of a control group fed corn oil. Significant correlations were found between the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22:6n-3) content of the red cell membranes and bone density and bone calcium content. DHA increased accretion of calcium in bone significantly more so than eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20:5n-3).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Body Weight
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Food, Formulated
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Calcium