Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and human platelet function: a review with particular emphasis on implications for cardiovascular disease

J Intern Med Suppl. 1989;731:141-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.1989.tb01448.x.


The low incidence of myocardial infarction in Greenland Eskimos may be due to their intake of marine food with a high content of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In Eskimos the platelet count is lowered, the platelet aggregation is inhibited, the bleeding time is prolonged and the ratio between proaggregatory thromboxanes and anti-aggregatory prostacyclins is decreased, when compared to age- and sex-matched Danes. In this review, studies evaluating the effect of a fish diet or fish-oil supplementation on human platelet function are summarized. Most studies have demonstrated that supplementation with n-3 PUFAs can cause inhibition of platelet behaviour. The optimal dose of n-3 PUFAs and the patient groups most likely to profit from supplementation need to be defined. The safety and the clinical effect of the supplementation should be investigated in long-term studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bleeding Time
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Epoprostenol / biosynthesis
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Platelet Count / drug effects
  • Thromboxane A2 / biosynthesis


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fish Oils
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Thromboxane A2
  • Epoprostenol