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Title: Analysis of omega-3 fatty acid content of South African fish oil supplements
Authors: Opperman, Maretha 
De Wet, Marais 
Benade, AJ Spinnler 
Keywords: Supplements;Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA);Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA);Conjugated dienes (CD);Fish oil
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Cardiovascular Journal of Africa
Abstract: Introduction: Substantial evidence describes the protective effects of marine-derived omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on cardiovascular diseases as well as many other conditions. Numerous fatty acid preparations are marketed for supplementing the Western diet, which is low in n-3 fats. Since these preparations may vary in their n-3 PUFA content, we tested 45 commercially available products on the South African market for their fatty acid composition. Method: Forty-five commercially available n-3 fatty acid supplements were analysed using gas–liquid chromatography to determine their fatty acid content. Results: More than half of the n-3 supplements available on the South African market contained ≤ 89% of the claimed content of EPA and/or DHA as stated on the product labels. To meet ISSFAL’s recommendation of 500 mg EPA + DHA/ day can cost consumers between R2 and R5 per person per day (R60 to R150 p/p/month). Regarding rancidity, the majority of capsules contained conjugated diene (CD) levels higher than that of vegetable oil obtained from opened containers (three months) used for domestic cooking purposes, despite the addition of vitamin E as antioxidant. Conclusion: Since no formal regulatory structure for dietary supplements currently exists in South Africa, consumers depend on self-regulation within the nutraceutical industry for assurance of product quality, consistency, potency and purity. Our results indicate that more than half of the n-3 fatty acid supplements on the South African market do not contain the claimed EPA and/or DHA contents as stated on product labels, and they contained CD levels higher than that in unused vegetable oils obtained from opened containers used for domestic cooking purposes.
Appears in Collections:Appsc - Journal Articles (DHET subsidised)

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