Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy not only improves maternal and neonatal DHA status, but often reduces gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-GLA (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (ARA) levels also, which may compromise foetal and infant development. The present study investigated the effects of a fish oil/evening primrose oil (FSO/EPO) blend (456 mg DHA/d and 353 mg GLA/d) compared to a placebo (mixture of habitual dietary fatty acids) on the plasma fatty acid (FA) composition in two groups of twenty non-pregnant women using a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel design. FA were quantified in plasma total lipids, phospholipids, cholesterol esters, and TAG at weeks 0, 4, 6 and 8. After 8 weeks of intervention, percentage changes from baseline values of plasma total lipid FA were significantly different between FSO/EPO and placebo for GLA (+49.9 % v. +2.1 %, means), DGLA (+13.8 % v. +0.7 %) and DHA (+59.6 % v. +5.5 %), while there was no significant difference for ARA ( - 2.2 % v. - 5.9 %).

FA changes were largely comparable between plasma lipid fractions. In both groups three subjects reported mild adverse effects. As compared with placebo, FSO/EPO supplementation did not result in any physiologically relevant changes of safety parameters (blood cell count, liver enzymes). In women of childbearing age the tested FSO/EPO blend was well tolerated and appears safe. It increases plasma GLA, DGLA, and DHA levels without impairing ARA status.

These data provide a basis for testing this FSO/EPO blend in pregnant women for its effects on maternal and neonatal FA status and infant development.