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Results of a study published at The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be more effective than eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in attenuating systemic inflammation and modulating plasma lipid risk factors in healthy men and women at risk of cardiovascular disease.
In order to compare the effects of EPA supplementation with those of DHA supplementation on inflammation markers and blood lipids, researchers from Canada conducted a double-blind, randomized, crossover, controlled study, in which 48 healthy men and 106 healthy women with abdominal obesity and low-grade systemic inflammation consumed 3 g per day of the following supplements for periods of 10 weeks: 1) EPA (2.7 g/d), 2) DHA (2.7 g/d), and 3) corn oil as a control with each supplementation separated by a 9 week washout period. Primary analyses assessed the difference in cardiometabolic outcomes between EPA and DHA.
According to the results, supplementation with DHA led to a greater reduction in interleukin-18 (IL-18) (p=0.01) and a greater increase in adiponectin (p<0.001) compared with supplementation with EPA.
Also, DHA led to more pronounced reduction in triglycerides (p=0.005), greater increase in HDL cholesterol (p<0.0001) and LDL cholesterol (p=0.04). The increase in LDL-cholesterol concentrations for DHA compared with EPA was significant in men but not in women.
In conclusion, data from this study indicate that DHA supplementation at a dose of ∼3 g/d for 10 week may be more potent in modulating inflammation markers than would be a similar dose of EPA in men and women with abdominal obesity and subclinical systemic inflammation but who are otherwise healthy. However, additional studies are needed to determine the effect of a long-term DHA supplementation per se on cardiovascular disease risk.
Allaire J, Couture P, Leclerc M, Charest A, Marin J, Lépine MC, et al. A randomized, crossover, head-to-head comparison of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation to reduce inflammation markers in men and women: the Comparing EPA to DHA (ComparED) Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016; 104(2):280-7.