Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

AbuGhazaleh, Amer


The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has increased over the past years for multiple reported health benefits. The omega-3 fatty acids of particular interest are eicosatetraenoic acid (C20:5n3; EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n3; DHA). High quality supplements are essential for safe intake. Studies from different countries including the United States and South Africa showed discrepancies between measured versus the claimed content of EPA and/or DHA in omega-3 supplements sold in Arab Gulf Countries. Therefore, the objective of this study was to analyze and compare the EPA and DHA content of omega-3 supplements with the contents claimed on the product label. Thirty-one commercial supplements purchased from stores in 3 different countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain) had their fatty acid composition and content were analyzed using Gas- Chromatograph with a 100-m SP-2560 fused silica capillary column. The range of measured EPA was 5.09 mg to 469.63 mg per capsule and for DHA was 10.47 to 357.26 mg per capsule. The percentage of the stated label amount for EPA and DHA ranged from 6.5 to 138.6% and 10.9 to 126.3%, respectively. Using the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements where a supplement must contain at least 80% of the stated label amount of each component listed, only 43.8% of the supplements were compliant for EPA and 40.6% were compliant for DHA. Additionally, only 21.9% of the measured EPA and DHA fall within the 10% of the stated label amount. These results demonstrate the wide variability between the stated label amounts of EPA and DHA in omega-3 supplements sold in Arab Gulf Countries and the need for governmental agencies to perform testing to ensure compliance.




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