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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Although assumed, it remains unclear that fatty acid (FA) biomarkers of n-3 long-chain PUFA reflect wide ranges of intake. However, to be utilised as biomarkers, to predict dietary intake, dose-response curves that cover a spectrum of intakes are required. The aim of the study was to investigate whether the FA composition of plasma phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a sensitive biomarker of n-3 FAs from fish oil, across a range of supplementation doses, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) supplementation, in young, healthy women. SUBJECTS/METHODS: A total of 303 young women were randomised to intakes ranging between 0.33 and 4.50 g EPA+DHA/day from fish oil (not all doses used in each year) or flaxseed oil (5.90-6.60 g/d) daily for 14 days in a series of trials, over 5 years. Fasting blood was collected at baseline (day 0) and day 14 and plasma PC FA composition, total and HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations measured. RESULTS: Fourteen days supplementation with fish oil significantly (P < 0.01) increased, in a dose-dependent fashion, plasma PC EPA, DPA and DHA at all doses except 1 and 3 mL/day. For the combined group of women who consumed any fish oil there was a 16% (P < 0.01) decrease in plasma triacylglycerol concentrations after 14 days supplementation. Flaxseed oil supplementation for 14 day resulted in significant (P < 0.01) increases in ALA, EPA and DPA, whilst DHA remained unchanged. CONCLUSION: Our data demonstrate plasma PC is a sensitive biomarker of n-3 FA intake and reflects changes within 14 days across a range of intakes.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Clin Nutr

Publication Date





832 - 840


Adolescent, Adult, Biomarkers, Cholesterol, Dietary Supplements, Docosahexaenoic Acids, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fatty Acids, Omega-3, Female, Fish Oils, Humans, Linseed Oil, Phosphatidylcholines, Triglycerides, Young Adult, alpha-Linolenic Acid