What is the most effective way of increasing the bioavailability of dietary long chain omega-3 fatty acids—daily vs. weekly administration of fish oil?

Samaneh Ghasemifard, Andrew J. Sinclair, Gunveen Kaur, Paul Lewandowski, Giovanni M. Turchini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The recommendations on the intake of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFA) vary from eating oily fish (“once to twice per week”) to consuming specified daily amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (“250-500 mg per day”). It is not known if there is a difference in the uptake/bioavailability between regular daily consumption of supplementsvs. consuming fish once or twice per week. In this study, the bioavailability of a daily dose of n-3 LC-PUFA (Constant treatment), representing supplements, vs. a large weekly dose of n-3 LC-PUFA (Spike treatment), representing consuming once or twice per week, was assessed. Six-week old healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either a Constant treatment, a Spike treatment or Control treatment (no n-3 LC-PUFA), for six weeks. The whole body, tissues and faeces were analysed for fatty acid content. The results showed that the major metabolic fate of the n-3 LC-PUFA (EPA+docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) + DHA) was towards catabolism (β-oxidation) accounting for over 70% of total dietary intake, whereas deposition accounted less than 25% of total dietary intake. It was found that significantly more n-3 LC-PUFA were β-oxidised when originating from the Constant treatment (84% of dose), compared with the Spike treatment (75% of dose). Conversely, it was found that significantly more n-3 LC-PUFA were deposited when originating from the Spike treatment (23% of dose), than from the Constant treatment (15% of dose). These unexpected findings show that a large dose of n-3 LC-PUFA once per week is more effective in increasing whole body n-3 LC-PUFA content in rats compared with a smaller dose delivered daily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5628-5645
Number of pages18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioavailability
  • DHA
  • DPA
  • EPA
  • Frequency of intake
  • Metabolic fate
  • Tissue deposition

Cite this