Study Title:

Bioavailability and conversion of plant based sources of omega-3 fatty acids - a scoping review to update supplementation options for vegetarians and vegans.

Study Abstract

Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids offer a plethora of health benefits with the majority of evidence showing beneficial effects from marine sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Emerging research examines the effects of n-3 dietary intakes on blood markers of vegetarians and vegans, but official guidance for plant based marine alternatives is yet to reach consensus. This scoping review provides an overview of trials investigating bioavailability of plant n-3 oils including EPA and DHA conversion. Searches of MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL and clinical trial registers identified randomized controlled trials from January 2010 to September 2020. The 'Omega-3 index' (EPA + DHA (O3I)), was used to compare n-3 status, metabolic conversion and bioavailability. Two reviewers independently screened articles and extracted data on outcomes. From 639 identified articles, screening and eligibility checks gave 13 articles. High dose flaxseed or echium seed oil supplements, provided no increases to O3I and some studies showed reductions. However, microalgal oil supplementation increased O3I levels for all studies. Findings indicate preliminary advice for vegetarians and vegans is regular consumption of preformed EPA and DHA supplements may help maintain optimal O3I. Further studies should establish optimum EPA and DHA ratios and dosages in vegetarian and vegan populations.

Study Information

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(18):4982-4997. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021.1880364. Epub 2021 Feb 12. PMID: 33576691.

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