Study supports bioavailability and tolerability of herring roe oil as an omega-3 source

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Herring roe is a by-product of the sustainable herring fishery industry. Image: iStockPhoto / Marika-
Herring roe is a by-product of the sustainable herring fishery industry. Image: iStockPhoto / Marika-

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid, Epa

Herring roe is an effective and highly tolerable way of boosting omega-3 levels in the body, according to results of a new randomized, single-blind, crossover trial.

Data published in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids​ indicates that there is a greater update of omega-3s EPA and DHA from phospholipid-rich herring roe oil after a single first dose, compared with fish oil.

However, chronic consumption over two weeks of the herring roe oil and fish oil revealed no significant differences between the oils for plasma EPA and DHA levels. Compared to baseline levels, both oils increased EPA + DHA levels by between 2.8 and 3.0-fold over two weeks.

“One potential explanation for this finding is that EPA and DHA were absorbed to a similar extent from the two sources, but it requires additional time for the fatty acids from the triacylglycerol-rich fish oil to equilibrate into the plasma phosphatidylcholine lipid pool measured,” ​wrote the authors from Biofortis Clinical Research, Arctic Nutrition AS, and the University of British Columbia.


The study used the Romega product by Norwegian firm Arctic Nutrition AS, which it launched in the US last year​ at the Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas. It is distributed in the US by Originates, an Aventura, FL-based ingredient supplier. The company, based in the fjords of western Norway, officially launched at the Vitafoods show in Geneva, Switzerland in 2012​.

Romega actually refers to one of three different concentrations of the ingredient, offered 28%, 30% and 50% phospholipid concentrations and varying amounts of EPA and DHA. The phospholipids taken from the roe are blended with fish oil triglycerides to adjust viscosity. While the ingredient is, like krill oil, rich in phospholipids, it offers more DHA than EPA, a flip of the coin from krill. Romega features as much as 300 mg of DHA per serving, depending on the ingredient type.

“Immature herring roe are currently an under-utilized, but potentially important, source of proteins and lipids for humans,” ​wrote the authors of the new paper. “The roe are available in high quantities (in the EU greater than 15,000 metric tons/year) as by-products from the sustainable herring fishery industry.”

Study details

Omega-3 softgels © Kagenmi
Image © iStockPhoto / Kagenmi

Led by Chad Cook from Biofortis Clinical Research, the researchers recruited 32 adults and randomly assigned them to receive either the Romega 30 herring roe product or fish oil for two weeks. This was followed by a four week washout period before crossing over to the other group. The daily doses of EPA, DHA and DPA in the Romega group were 628 mg, 1810 mg, and 137 mg, respectively. The daily EPA, DHA, and DPA doses in the fish oil group were 575 mg, 1843 mg DHA, and 259 mg, respectively.

Results showed that after a single dose of the oils, levels of EPA and DHA in plasma phosphatidylcholine increased more in the herring roe oil group, compared to the fish oil group.

However, after the two-week supplementation period, there were no significant differences between the herring roe oil and fish oil groups, said the researchers.

Commenting on the tolerability of the Romega 30 supplementats, Cook and his co-authors note that there were no adverse events experienced by subjects related to consuming the study product.

“This study demonstrated that phospholipid-rich herring roe is a bioavailable source of [long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids] (specifically EPA, DPA, and DHA) and was well-tolerated in men and women with mild hypertriglyceridemia (triacylglycerol 100–399 mg/dL),”​ they concluded.

Source: Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.01.007
“Bioavailability of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from phospholipid-rich herring roe oil in men and women with mildly elevated triacylglycerols”
Authors: C.M. Cook et al. 

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