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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Short term effects of dietary medium-chain fatty acids and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on the fat metabolism of healthy volunteers

Christopher Beermann1*, J Jelinek1, T Reinecker2, A Hauenschild2, G Boehm1 and H-U Klör2

Author Affiliations

1 Numico Research, Friedrichsdorf, Germany

2 Medizinische Klinik III und Polyklinik, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Giessen, Germany

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2003, 2:10  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-2-10

Published: 17 November 2003

Abstract

Background

The amount and quality of dietary fatty acids can modulate the fat metabolism.

Objective

This dietary intervention is based on the different metabolic pathways of long-chain saturated fatty acids (LCFA), which are mostly stored in adipocytic triacylglycerols, medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) which are preferentially available for hepatic mitochondrial β-oxidation and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) suggested to modulate fat oxidation and storage by stimulating the peroxisomal β-oxidation. Combined dietary MCFA and n-3 LCPUFA without LCFA may synergistically stimulate fatty acid oxidation resulting in blood lipid clearance and LCFA release from adipocytes.

Design

In a short term, parallel, randomized, double-blind trial effects on the fatty acid metabolism of 10 healthy volunteers (Body Mass Index 25–30) of a formula containing 72% MCFA and 22% n-3 LCPUFA without LCFA (intake: 1.500 kcal/day; fat: 55.5% of energy) were measured in comparison to an isoenergetic formula with equal fat amount and LCFA dominated lipid profile.

Results

The plasma triacylglycerol (p < 0.1) and cholesterol (p < 0.05) content decreased in the test group. The n-3/n-6 LCPUFA (≥ C 20) ratio increased (p < 0.0001) after 4 days treatment. The LCFA content was similar in both groups despite missing LCFA in the test formula indicating LCFA release from adipocytes into the plasma. Both groups significantly reduced body weight considerably 4 kg (p < 0.01) and fat mass up to 50% of weight loss (p < 0.05).

Conclusion

Combined dietary 72% MCFA and 22% n-3 LCPUFA without LCFA stimulate the fatty acid oxidation and release from adipocytes without affecting any safety parameters measured.

Keywords:
metabolic syndrome; medium-chain fatty acids; long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids