Omega 3 study: volunteers needed

When it comes to Omega 3 fatty acids, have you ever wondered which is better - marine or plant-based? Volunteer for a new university study which aims to investigate exactly that. 

According to study leader Prof Spinnler Benade, of the Functional Foods Research Unit at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), controversy currently exists whether plant derived Omega-3 fatty acids have the same health benefits as those reported for marine derived fatty acids. 

"Our clinical trial 'Plant versus marine derived omega-3 fatty acids' is designed to answer some of these questions. It is a spin-out study of the successfully completed clinical trials during 2009 and 2010 where a model was developed and tested to determine the daily needs of omega-3 fatty acids in humans. The aim of this clinical trial is to investigate whether plant derived omega-3 fatty acids are sufficiently converted to longer chain omega-3 fatty acids needed for optimum health."

To continue with the proposed clinical trial, a number of participants are needed. Apart from assisting in some important research, participants will also learn more about their own health and the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids at no cost.

Here's more information

Participation requirements:

  • Volunteers
  • Age between 20 and 60 years
  • No use of any oral medication known to affect glucose/insulin levels or cholesterol levels
  • Normal blood pressure (120-139 / 80-89 mm Hg)
  • Body Mass Index between 22-29 kg/m2: calculation: {weight ÷ (height x height)}
  • Non smoker
  • Normal blood lipid profile (cholesterol 3.87 to 5.5 mmol/L)
  • Normal blood glucose levels (fasting < 7 mmol/L)
  • Waist circumference: Men <102 cm; Women <88 cm
  • In addition to the above requirements, volunteers should be medically stable with no clinical significant abnormalities of the liver, kidneys or blood.

All volunteers interested in this study will be screened beforehand at no cost to determine if they meet the requirements to partake in the study. Please feel free to contact us even if you do not know or are uncertain about your health status requirements for this study.


Participants will learn more about their own health and the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Results of all tests conducted during this study will be made available without any costs involved. This research is conducted at no cost to participants. All omega-3 supplements will be provided at no cost to the participant.

In this randomised controlled trial participants will be required to participate in a run-in period for two (2) weeks where they will be requested to follow their habitual diet and maintain their usual exercise habits. After this stabilisation period (baseline data), blood samples will be drawn and participants will commence with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. After the baseline data have been collected a loading period (6 weeks) with 4 x1000 mg omega-3 supplement capsules will follow. Blood samples will be collected every two weeks. During the re-supplementation/washout phase (6 weeks) blood samples will be collected weekly to monitor omega-3 fatty acid contents in the blood. During this phase participants will be divided into groups either receiving fish oil supplements (2 x 1000 mg), flaxseed supplements (4 x 1000 mg) or no supplements. Participants will receive no monetary compensation, but will benefit by receiving their blood test results at the end of the study. Refreshments will be provided on the day of blood sampling.

Study Investigator

Helene Coffee (Masters Student, Consumer Science and Nutrition), Dr Maretha Opperman (Supervisor and Researcher – Functional Foods Research Unit) and Prof Spinnie Benade (Co-Supervisor and Head - Functional Foods Research Unit), Faculty of Applied Sciences, Sciences Building Room 3.25 D, Cape Town Campus, CPUT. Blood samples will be drawn at the BELLVILLE CAMPUS AS WELL AS CAPE TOWN CAMPUSSES

Study dates and contact information

All interested participants please submit your contact details telephonically or via email to us before 20 January 2012 to set up an appointment.

Telephone: 021 953 8677 / 021 460 4213 or 083 227 7578


This study has been approved by the Applied Sciences Research Ethics Committee of CPUT

(CPUT press release)

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