Effect of long-term fish oil supplementation on vitamin E status and lipid peroxidation in women

J Nutr. 1991 Apr;121(4):484-91. doi: 10.1093/jn/121.4.484.


Fifteen young (22-35 y) and 10 older (51-71 y) women received six capsules of fish oil (Pro-Mega)/d, providing a total of 1,680 mg eicosapentaenoic (EPA), 720 mg docosahexaenoic (DHA), 600 mg other fatty acids, and 6 IU vitamin E. Blood was collected before and after 1, 2 and 3 mo of supplementation. Compliance was confirmed by the significant increase in plasma EPA and DHA in all women. Older women had a significantly higher increase in EPA and DHA than did young women (10-fold increases in EPA and 2.5-fold increases in DHA vs. 8-fold in EPA and 2-fold in DHA for older and young women, respectively). The decrease in the arachidonic acid:EPA ratio was more dramatic in the older women. Plasma total triglycerides (TG) decreased significantly, and the ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids was significantly (P less than 0.01) increased. Plasma vitamin E levels did not change significantly after supplementation; however, after 3 mo of supplementation by young women, plasma vitamin E was significantly lower than after 1 mo. The vitamin E: TG ratio was significantly increased and vitamin E:(EPA + DHA) significantly decreased. All women showed a significant increase in plasma lipid peroxide through mo 2 of supplementation. After 2 mo, older women had significantly higher lipid peroxide levels than young women. The lipid peroxide:TG ratio, which declined by mo 3, was still significantly higher than baseline. These data indicate that although long-term fish oil supplementation may be beneficial in reducing plasma total TG, susceptibility of plasma lipids to free radical attack is potentiated.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects*
  • Lipid Peroxides / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Triglycerides
  • Vitamin E
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid