Lipid peroxidation during n-3 fatty acid and vitamin E supplementation in humans

Lipids. 1997 May;32(5):535-41. doi: 10.1007/s11745-997-0068-2.


The purpose of this study was to investigate in healthy humans the effect of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake, alone or in combination with dL-alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E) supplements on lipid peroxidation. Eighty men were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to take daily for 6 wk either menhaden oil (6.26 g, n-3 fatty acids) or olive oil supplements with either vitamin E (900 IU) or its placebo. Antioxidant vitamins, phospholipid composition, malondialdehyde (MDA), and lipid peroxides were measured in the plasma at baseline and week 6. At the same time, breath alkane output was measured. Plasma alpha-tocopherol concentration increased in those receiving vitamin E (P < 0.0001). In those supplemented with n-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA increased in plasma phospholipids (P < 0.0001) and plasma MDA and lipid peroxides increased (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively). Breath alkane output did not change significantly and vitamin E intake did not prevent the increase in lipid peroxidation during menhaden oil supplementation. The results demonstrate that supplementing the diet with n-3 fatty acids resulted in an increase in lipid peroxidation, as measured by plasma MDA release and lipid peroxide products, which was not suppressed by vitamin E supplementation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Ethane / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation*
  • Lipid Peroxides / blood
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Pentanes / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Pentanes
  • Phospholipids
  • Plant Oils
  • Vitamin E
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • pentane
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Ethane