OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of the effects of supplementation of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on vascular tone and endothelial function in healthy men and women aged 40 to 65 years. METHODS: In a double-blind, randomised, placebo controlled study, 173 healthy volunteers took one of six oil supplements for 8 months. Supplements were placebo, oleic acid rich sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, soya bean oil, tuna fish oil, and tuna/evening primrose oil mix. Endothelium-dependent and independent vascular responses were measured in the forearm skin using laser Doppler imaging following iontophoretic applications of acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside, respectively. RESULTS: Acetylcholine, but not sodium nitroprusside responses were significantly improved after tuna oil supplementation (P=0.02). Additionally, there were significant positive correlations between acetylcholine responses and n-3 fatty acid levels in the plasma and erythrocyte membrane phospholipids after tuna oil supplementation. No significant changes in vascular response were seen after supplementation with any of the other oils. CONCLUSIONS: Fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on endothelial function, even in normal healthy subjects. Modification of the diet by an increase of 6% in eicosapentaenoic acid and 27% in docosahexaenoic acid (equivalent to eating oily fish 2-3 times/week) might have significant beneficial effects on cardiovascular function and health.
- Endothelial function
- Nitric oxide