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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


EFSA Finds no Safety Concerns with Algal EPA and/or DHA and Increases Upper Intake Level

By Michael McBurney

Experts from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion that supplemental DHA and EPA from algal oil sources (Schizochytrium species) can be safely increased from 3 grams daily to 5 grams daily as there is no safety concerns for adults.

The committee also reviewed evidence for an association between EPA and DHA intake in the development of prostate cancer. They found no evidence. In the VITAL cohort, Brasky et al reported that fish oil omega-3 supplement use was not associated with prostate cancer risk. Later, using data from the SELECT trial, Brasky et al reported EPA and DHA concentrations increased prostate cancer risk. However, Harris and Davidson criticized the authors for inappropriately extrapolating the data when blood concentrations were well below those seen in individuals taking fish oil supplements.  A single baseline blood samples is also not an accurate reflection of long-term omega-3 intake or status.

Clearly, experts at EFSA have concluded there are no risks associated with DHA and/or EPA supplementation from algal oils as they increased the safe supplemental intake level from 3 to 5g daily.

Main Citation

Scientific opinion on the extension of use for DHA and EPA-rich algal oil from Schizochytrium sp. as a novel food ingredient. 2014 EFSA J doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3843

Other Citations

Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, Tangen CM, Goodman PJ, Thompson IM, Meyskens Jr FL, Goodman GE, Minasian LM, Parnes HL, Klein EA, Kristal AR. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial. 2013 J Natl Cancer Inst doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174

Brasky, TM, Kristal AR, Navarro SL, Lampe JW, Peters U, Patterson RE, White E. Specialty supplements and prostate cancer risk in the VITamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort. 2011 Nutr Cancer 10.1080/01635581.2011.553022

Harris W, Davidson MH. . Re: plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial. 2014 J Natl Cancer Inst  doi: 10.1093/jnci.dju019