Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults

Prog Lipid Res. 2016 Jul;63:132-52. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2016.05.001. Epub 2016 May 20.

Abstract

Studies reporting blood levels of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), were systematically identified in order to create a global map identifying countries and regions with different blood levels. Included studies were those of healthy adults, published in 1980 or later. A total of 298 studies met all inclusion criteria. Studies reported fatty acids in various blood fractions including plasma total lipids (33%), plasma phospholipid (32%), erythrocytes (32%) and whole blood (3.0%). Fatty acid data from each blood fraction were converted to relative weight percentages (wt.%) and then assigned to one of four discrete ranges (high, moderate, low, very low) corresponding to wt.% EPA+DHA in erythrocyte equivalents. Regions with high EPA+DHA blood levels (>8%) included the Sea of Japan, Scandinavia, and areas with indigenous populations or populations not fully adapted to Westernized food habits. Very low blood levels (≤4%) were observed in North America, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa. The present review reveals considerable variability in blood levels of EPA+DHA and the very low to low range of blood EPA+DHA for most of the world may increase global risk for chronic disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Humans

Substances

  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid