Omega 3 oil from yeast similar to fish oil in safety and nutritional effect

By Stephen Daniells, 16-Sep-2010

The safety of an EPA-rich oil from genetically modified yeast is “comparable to that of GRAS fish oil”, says a new study from DuPont.

Results of a 90-day rat study with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-rich oil produced from GM Yarrowia lipolytica yeast produced no adverse effects at doses up to 976 mg EPA per kilogram of body weight per day, according to findings published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.

“Exposure to EPA oil produced no test substance-related effects on body weight or nutritional parameters, neurobehavioral parameters, clinical or ophthalmological observations, hematology or urinalysis parameters or microscopic pathology at any tested dose,” wrote researchers from DuPont, led by Susan MacKenzie.

“The safety profile of EPA oil was comparable to that of GRAS fish oil. These results support the use of EPA oil produced from yeast as a safe source for use in dietary supplements,” they added.

More at  Nutra ingredients

Scientific report
Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 6. [Epub ahead of print]
Safety assessment of EPA-rich oil produced from yeast: Results of a 90-day subchronic toxicity study.
Mackenzie SA, Belcher LA, Sykes GP, Frame SR, Mukerji P, Gillies PJ.

DuPont Haskell Global Centers for Health and Environmental Sciences, E. I. duPont de Nemours & Company, 1090 Elkton Road, Newark, DE 19711-3507, USA.

The safety of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) oil produced from genetically modified Yarrowia lipolytica yeast was evaluated following 90days of exposure. Groups of rats received 0 (olive oil), 98, 488, or 976mg EPA/kg/day, or GRAS fish oil or deionized water by oral gavage. Rats were evaluated for in-life, neurobehavioral, anatomic and clinical pathology parameters. Lower serum cholesterol (total and non-HDL) was observed in Medium and High EPA and fish oil groups. Lower HDL was observed in High EPA and fish oil males, only at early time points. Liver weights were increased in High EPA and Medium EPA (female only) groups with no associated clinical or microscopic pathology findings. Nasal lesions, attributed to oil in the nasal cavity, were observed in High and Medium EPA and fish oil groups. No other effects were attributed to test oil exposure. Exposure to EPA oil for 90days produced no effects at 98mg EPA/kg/day and no adverse effects at doses up to 976mg EPA/kg/day. The safety profile of EPA oil was comparable to that of GRAS fish oil. These results support the use of EPA oil produced from yeast as a safe source for use in dietary supplements.

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David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.


  1. This is really interesting. I don’t eat fish, but there’s a lot of research showing Omega 3s to be oh-so-important for brain health. I would really like to see Omega3s from yeast in my supermarket soon!

  2. Anything that allows people to get Omega-3s without having to resort to flax seed oil or fishy burp pills is a step ahead. I have recently come to accept walnuts after I (re)discovered that they can be embedded in a matrix of sugar or banana-flour-egg-and-sugar.

  3. I agree with this post although I do love fish. I feel like if you can get your omegas from other sources it’s just another way of diversifying the ways to get the benefits. And when we talk about kids getting their omegas, we really need to find other options.
    T. Black

  4. Agreed! I just listened to an NPR interview with a nutritionist that studies the effects of Omega 3s consumed by a pregnant woman on her infant-to-be. In Iowa (where I and the researcher happen to be located) fish consumption is low. An alternative source would be welcomed.

  5. Interesting point. Even though I write about Omega 3 and it’s health benefits I have to say I hadn’t even come across anything about the Omega 3 content of genetically modified yeast.
    Must research that. It would be interesting to know if this transferred to a higher Omega 3 content in bread made with this yeast.

  6. It is nice to know that there is another option of getting the omega 3 requirement from the yeast aside from fish oil. I hope that it will be available on supermarket and grocery to give healthy benefits to the consumers. It seems great that the researchers are supporting the use of EPA oil produced from yeast as a safe source for use in dietary supplements.

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