Study Reviews

EPA metabolism changes with age

  • 10/11/2017

The human body undergoes metabolic and biological changes related specifically to ageing and such changes should be borne in mind to maintain an adequate healthy diet. A recently published study investigated the metabolism of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, a fundamental structural component of the brain, retina and skin) and arachidonic acid (AA) in 6 young men (aged 18-30) and 6 men over 70. All participants took a single 35mg dose of EPA or 50mg of AA at the start of each of the two intervention periods, with an intervening washout period (28 days in total). The authors discovered that AA metabolism did not differ significantly between both groups (with regard to parameters such as peak plasma levels, half-life and oxidation). However, EPA metabolism was significantly different: in older men, the level of EPA after consumption was twice that of young men and conversion to DHA was also higher.

In other words, given that the metabolism of EPA (and, consequently, DHA) seems to alter with age, this is a factor to bear in mind in diets.

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