Consumption of oily fish is sporadic, whereas controlled intervention studies of n-3 (ω-3) fatty acids usually provide capsules containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as a daily dose. This methodologic study explored whether there are differences in the short-, medium-, and long-term incorporation of EPA and DHA into blood plasma and cells with the provision of identical amounts of EPA and DHA, equivalent to 2 oily fish servings per week (or 6.54 g/wk EPA and DHA), either intermittently (i.e., 1 portion twice per week) or continuously (i.e., divided into daily amounts). The study was part of a randomized, double-blind controlled intervention lasting 12 mo, with participants stratified by age and sex. There were 5 intervention groups, 2 of which are reported here: the 2 intermittent portions (2I) and 2 continuous portions (2C) groups. EPA and DHA were measured in plasma phosphatidylcholine, platelets, and blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) at 9 time points. Sixty-five participants completed the study (2I group, n = 30, mean age of 49.2 y; 2C group, n = 35, mean age of 50.6 y). The incorporation pattern over the 12-mo intervention was different between the 2 groups in all samples (P < 0.0001, time × treatment interaction). At the end of the 12-mo intervention, the 2C group had higher EPA, DHA, and EPA + DHA in platelets (all P < 0.01) and higher EPA and EPA + DHA in MNCs (both P < 0.05) compared with the 2I group. No significant differences were shown for plasma phosphatidylcholine EPA (P = 0.1), DHA (P = 0.15), EPA + DHA (P = 0.07), or MNC DHA (P = 0.06). In conclusion, the pattern of consumption does affect the incorporation of EPA and DHA into cells used as biomarkers of intake. The differences identified here need to be considered in the design of studies and when extrapolating results from continuous capsule-based intervention studies to dietary guidelines for oily fish consumption. This trial was registered at www.controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN48398526.

Original publication

DOI

10.3945/jn.113.186346

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Nutr

Publication Date

05/2014

Volume

144

Pages

667 - 672

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Blood Platelets, Dietary Supplements, Docosahexaenoic Acids, Double-Blind Method, Drug Administration Schedule, Eating, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fatty Acids, Omega-3, Female, Fish Oils, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Male, Middle Aged, Seafood