Fatty Acids - Erythrocytes


Over the past two decades there has been sustained interest in essential fatty acid supplementation. The focus has now switched from supplementation with fish oil to the use of oils containing specific, enhanced concentrations of named essential fatty acids. In the late 1990s large clinical trials such as the GISSI-Prevenzione study [1] were published supporting the cardiovascular benefits of consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. This trial, an Italian study of post-myocardial infarction patients, showed that after 3.5 years, those receiving n-3 fatty acids (850 mg/day) had a 20% reduction in overall mortality, 30% reduction in coronary mortality, and 45% reduction in sudden death.

Improved distillation processing has helped to enhance the purity of supplemental oils and there are now many studies to support the benefits of essential fatty acid supplementation that reach beyond the area of cardiology. To date studies which suggest that omega-3 fatty acid consumption has health-beneficial effects include those on the outcome of pregnancy [2,3,4], in the cognitive and visual development of the neonate [5,6], for the treatment and risk reduction of psychiatric disorders [7,8,9], in the prevention of dementia [10,11], metabolic syndrome [12,13] and a variety of other inflammatory conditions [14,15,16].

Biolab has re-established its measurement of red cell essential fatty acids with new instrumentation and is now reporting quantitative values on patient samples for seven omega-6 fatty acids, four omega-3 fatty acids, and a variety of omega-5, omega-7, omega-9, saturated and trans-fatty acids (32 fatty acids in total). Some of these substances are not considered beneficial to health (for example, the trans-fatty acids) and hence an overall assessment of dietary and supplemental intake of fatty acids can be made.

Included in Profiles:

Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are included in our Health Risk Profile(s)


efasds.pdf (Click to Download)

Sample Report:

rep-efas.pdf (Click to Download)

Sample Requirements:

Lavender top blood collection tube (EDTA)

Postal Samples Acceptable:



1. GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators (Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico). Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Lancet 1999;354:447-455.
2. Elias SL, Innis SM. Infant plasma trans, n-6 and n-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids are related to maternal plasma fatty acids, length of gestation and birth weight and length. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73:807-814.
3. Rump P, Mensink RP, Kester ADM, Hornstra G. Essential fatty acids composition of plasma phospholipids and birth weight: a study in term neonates. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73:797-806.
4. Olsen SF, Secher NJ. A possible preventative effect of low-dose fish oil on early delivery and pre-eclampsia: indications from a 50-year-old controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 1990;64:599-609.
5. Carlson SE, Ford AJ, Werkman SH, Pepples JM, Koo WW. Visual acuity and fatty acid status of term infants fed human milk and formulas with and without docosahexaenoate and arachidonate from egg yolk lecithin. Pediatr Res. 1996;39:882-888.
6. Markides M, Neumann MA, Simmer K, Gibson RA. A critical appraisal of the role of dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on neural indices of term infants: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2000;105:32-38.
7. Nemets B, Stahl Z, and Belmaker R. Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2002;159:477-479.
8. Peet M. Eicosapentaenoic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia and depression: rationale and preliminary double-blind clinical trial results. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003;l69:477-485.
9. Iribarren C, Markovitz JH, Jacobs DR, Schreiner PJ, Davigulus M, Hibbeln JR. Dieary intake of n-3, n-6 fatty acids and fish: relationship with hostility in young adults -- the CARDIA study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004;58:24-31.
10. Conquer JA, Tierney MC, Zecevic J, et al. Fatty acid analysis of blood plasma of patients with Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, and cognitive impairment. Lipids. 2000;35:1305-1312.
11. Schaefer E. Omega-3 fatty acids and dementia. Presented at the omega-3 fatty acids: Recommendations for therapeutics and prevention symposium. May 21, 2005. New York.
12. Alexander CM, Landsman PB, Teutsch SM, Haffner SM. NCEP-defined metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and prevalence of coronary heart disease among NHANES participants age 50 years and older. Diabetes 2003;52:1201-1204.
13. Delarue J, Lefoll C, Corporeau C, Lucas D. N-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: a nutritional tool to prevent insulin resistance associated to type 2 diabetes and obesity? Reprod Nutr Dev. 2004;44:289-299.
14. Serhan CN, Arita M, Hong S, Gotlinger K. Resolvins, docosatrienes and neuroprotectins, novel omega-3 derived mediators, and their endogenous aspirin-triggered epimers. Lipids. 2004;39:1125-1132.
15. Kremer JM. N-3 fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:349S-351S.
16. Calder P. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation: Impact on heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and asthma. Presented at the omega-3 fatty acids: recommendations for therapeutics and prevention symposium. May 21, 2005. New York.

For further details please contact the laboratory at: lab@xxxxbiolab.co.uk