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DSM’s new study finds similar bioavailability of fish- and krill- derived omega-3 supplements

Kaiseraugst, CH, 22 Sep 2015 10:15 CEST

DSM has published the results of a new study1 to show that similar levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) reach the blood, regardless of whether the omega-3 supplement consumed is a fish or krill oil product. There had previously been conflicting information on the relative oral bioavailability of different forms of omega-3. For example, several krill oil manufacturers and marketers have made, and continue to make claims that krill oil is between 2.5 and 20 times more bioavailable than fish oil forms of omega-3 that have demonstrated clinical benefits. Typically, krill oil products that are available in the consumer marketplace have significantly lower levels of EPA and DHA in each capsule, when compared to fish or algal oil based omega-3 supplements. These new results allow consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, as DSM works to educate global populations on the multiple health benefits of these essential nutrients.  

The randomized, double-blind study monitored 66 healthy adults over a four week period and compared fish oil ethyl ester (EE), fish oil triglyceride (TG) and phospholipid (krill) forms with the same dose and concentrations of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the two fatty acids best recognized for delivering health benefits, such as heart, brain and eye health. The study demonstrated that there was no statistically significant difference in total plasma and red blood cell EPA plus DHA levels observed between fish oil EE, fish oil TG and krill oil (at daily intake of 1.3g).

“It has previously been suggested that krill oil has greater bioavailability than fish or algal oil, but the studies referenced to make such claims had critical design flaws,” comments Karin Yurko-Mauro, PhD, Director, Clinical Research, Nutritional Lipids, DSM. “This new study was designed to objectively determine if there are significant differences in the bioavailability of different forms of omega-3s dose for dose, in order provide more evidence and give a clear message to consumers”.

“Omega-3s are scientifically proven to show positive health benefits for the heart, brain and vision, however the majority of populations across the world do not have adequate intake to maintain optimal health,” adds Norman Salem, Jr. Corporate Scientist, Nutritional Lipids, DSM. “It is critical that the industry continues to educate consumers on the essentiality of omega-3s and the equivalence of different forms that are available to them.”

DSM is committed to investing in clinical research to further understand omega-3s as part of its ongoing investment in being the world’s leading supplier of both marine and unique vegetarian based omega-3 ingredient solutions. DSM’s expanding portfolio of nutritional lipids includes life’sDHA™, a vegetarian form of DHA derived purely from a sustainable algal source, life’sOMEGA™ 60, the first high potency vegetarian DHA/EPA product available, and a wide range of MEG-3® omega-3 EPA/DHA products from fish oil including neutralized products that have no fishy taste or smell.

To learn more, visit and watch a new video on how MEG-3 fish oil is sustainably sourced from clean, omega-3 rich ocean fish.

1) Yurko-Mauro K et al. Similar eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid plasma levels achieved with fish oil or krill oil in a randomized double-blind four-week bioavailability study. Lipids in Health and Disease 2015, 14:99