Enhanced incorporation of n-3 fatty acids from fish compared with fish oils

Lipids. 2006 Dec;41(12):1109-14. doi: 10.1007/s11745-006-5060-3.


This work was undertaken to study the impact of the source of n-3 FA on their incorporation in serum, on blood lipid composition, and on cellular activation. A clinical trial comprising 71 volunteers, divided into five groups, was performed. Three groups were given 400 g smoked salmon (n = 14), cooked salmon (n = 15), or cooked cod (n = 13) per week for 8 wk. A fourth group was given 15 mL/d of cod liver oil (CLO) (n = 15), and a fifth group served as control (n = 14) without supplementation. The serum content of EPA and DHA before and after intervention revealed a higher rise in EPA and DHA in the cooked salmon group (129% rise in EPA and 45% rise in DHA) as compared with CLO (106 and 25%, respectively) despite an intake of EPA and DHA in the CLO group of 3.0 g/d compared with 1.2 g/d in the cooked salmon group. No significant changes were observed in blood lipids, fibrinogen, fibrinolysis, or lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tissue factor (TF) activity, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin-8 (IL-8), leukotriene B4 (LTB4), and thromboxane B2 (TxB2) in whole blood. EPA and DHA were negatively correlated with LPS-induced TNFalpha, IL-8, LTB4, TxB2, and TF in whole blood. In conclusion, fish consumption is more effective in increasing serum EPA and DHA than supplementing the diet with fish oil. Since the n-3 FA are predominantly in TAG in fish as well as CLO, it is suggested that the larger uptake from fish than CLO is due to differences in physiochemical structure of the lipids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cod Liver Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene B4 / metabolism
  • Salmon / metabolism
  • Thromboxane B2 / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Leukotriene B4
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Thromboxane B2
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid