Characterizing a New Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement


Scientists from the University of Messina in Messina, Italy, developed a new omega-3 fatty acid-based supplement developed and tested for its effectiveness on metabolism and lipid profiles. The scientists published their findings in the Journal of Chromatography B (1).

Senior woman holding omega-3 fish oil nutritional supplement and glass of water | Image Credit: © encierro -

Senior woman holding omega-3 fish oil nutritional supplement and glass of water | Image Credit: © encierro -

Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3 PUFAs), mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 ω3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6 ω3), are used to help cells in the body function properly. These fatty acids act as vital elements of cell membranes, providing structure and supporting interactions between cells (2). It also provides energy (calories) and support the health of many body systems, including the endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to protect against cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, they can reduce triacylglycerides (TAG) and cholesteryl ester (CE) levels in blood and enable anti-inflammatory activity.

Recent research has shown that ω3 dietary supplementation does not reduce the risk of cancer or heart strokes. Additionally, fish oil supply, which is the main source of ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), is facing challenges including additional regulations and the high demand for fish. This has led to an increase in prices. The cost of fish rose $700 USD per tonne in 2021, according to a 2022 issue of GLOBEFISH Highlights (3). Due to these challenges, scientists are investigating alternative methods for creating fish oil supplements.

In this study, the researchers focused on extracting ω3 fatty acids and peptides from the tuna waste industry. According to the scientists, processing raw tuna fish into edible goods can produce waste amounts as high as 70% of the starting material; from this, one can retrieve several high-value molecules, such as ω3 PUFAs, bioactive peptides, essential amino acids (AAs), and metals (1). As such, they developed a supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) method to separate, isolate, and enrich different fractions, which were subsequently used to create an innovative formulate. The supplement was characterized in terms of fatty acids esterified ester (FAEE) composition by gas chromatography (GC) coupled to both flame ionization detection (FID) and mass spectrometry (MS). For characterization of heavy metals, the supplement was tested using inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP–MS).

The effects of ω3 supplementation on metabolism and circulating lipid profiles were first tested on 12 volunteers; these were assessed using GC–FID analysis of whole blood collected on paper support, first at the beginning of the study and again after thirty days. After 30 days, plasma fatty acid levels were significantly decreased in a ω6/ω3 ratio, as well as the saturated/polyunsaturated fatty acids (SFA/PUFA) ratio, compared to subjects who took unformulated ω3 ethyl esters. Novel formulated supplements proved to be interesting and promising products due to vast increases in bioavailability.

“The significant increase in bioavailability demonstrated by the formulated supplement, composed by components extracted from industry by-products and according to green chemistry processes, makes it highly competitive in the current panorama of the nutraceutical industry,” the scientists concluded (1).


(1) Donnarumma, D.; Di Salle, A.; Micalizzi, G.; Vento, F.; et al. Human Blood Lipid Profiles After Dietary Supplementation of Different Omega 3 Ethyl Esters Formulations. J. Chromatogr. B 2023, 1231, 123922. DOI: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2023.123922

(2) Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Cleveland Clinic 2024. (accessed 2024-5-8)

(3) FAO. GLOBEFISH Highlights – International markets for fisheries and aquaculture products, second issue 2022, with January–December 2021 Statistics. GLOBEFISH 2022. (accessed 2024-5-8)

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