Nutrition, Dietetic Products, Novel Food and Allergy

Evaluation of negative and positive health effects of n-3 fatty acids as constituents of food supplements and fortified foods


Report no: 2011: 14

Published: 28.06.2011

Main message:

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) has on request from The Norwegian Food Safety Authority evaluated negative and positive human health effects from intake of n-3 fatty acids from food supplements and fortified foods.

N-3 fatty acids can be derived from marine or plant sources and are present in supplements and fortified foods as triacylglycerol, phospholipids or synthetic ethyl esters.

The most important sources of marine n-3 fatty acids are fish oils produced either from fatty fish or from livers of lean fish and food supplements.

Other sources are oils from marine mammals and krill, and oils rich in docosahexanoic acid (DHA) isolated from the micro algae Schizochytrium sp. and Ulkenia sp. are under certain conditions accepted as Novel Foods in the EU.

Most studies concerning n-3 fatty acids in food supplements and fortified foods include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA either alone or in combinations. Plant oils rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are e.g. linseed oil and rapeseed oil.

The evidence presented in this evaluation show that it is possible to obtain positive health effects in the Norwegian population from intake of EPA and DHA, including from food supplements, without any appreciable risk of negative or adverse health effects.


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