How can we improve the population's omega-3 intake?
Although the latest data on lipid consumption for the French population show an average daily intake of total lipids close to the recommendations, the levels of intake of omega-3 fatty acids are two times lower than the recommended nutritional intake (data from the INCA 3 study). With regard more specifically to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the precursor of omega-3, the new recommendations of the PNNS recommend increasing its intake by favouring the consumption of vegetable oils that contain it naturally (identified under the term linolenic oils): rapeseed oil, walnut oil, linseed oil, ....
Another approach that can be considered is to improve the bioavailability of ALA, i.e. its absorption and incorporation into the body, without increasing the total lipid intake. In addition to the influence of certain physiological factors on the bioavailability of lipid nutrients such as omega-3s (age, sex, nutritional and physiological status of the subject, etc.), certain parameters intrinsic to the food (also known as the food matrix) can also modulate the fate of these nutrients in the body (structure, composition, interactions with other nutrients). This is one of the current challenges facing food manufacturers in terms of innovation and improvement of the food supply.
Since the early 2000s, ITERG has been conducting research with various partners[ 4] to identify the parameters of the food matrix that can be modulated to specifically optimise ALA bioavailability. This work has focused on the optimal quantity of ALA in the lipid ration, the impact of the nature of the fatty acids other than ALA present in the food matrix, the form of ALA intake, and its position within dietary triglycerides.
The results acquired in preclinical approaches allow us to conclude that it is worthwhile increasing the quantity of ALA in the lipidic ration, since a ration providing 10% ALA favours not only its bioavailability but also its bioconversion into EPA and DHA (other omega-3s of interest to the organism, which are also consumed below the recommendations). The consumption of linolenic oils in combination with oils rich in oleic acid improves theintestinal absorption of ALA, as well as its incorporation into various tissues of the body. The same parameters would also be improved in the case of emulsification of linolenic oils. Finally, some ALA-rich oils, such as rapeseed oil, have the particularity of containing triglycerides where ALA naturally occupies a position favourable to its bioavailability.
Taken together, these data provide new arguments on the choice of fats to be favoured to increase the bioavailability of ALA, as well as on the parameters of the food matrix not to be neglected when designing lipid formulas aiming at improving the bioavailability of omega-3.
 Laboratoire CarMeN, Inserm, INRAE, INSA Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 ׀ Laboratoire CBMN, CNRS UMR 5248, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux INP ׀ Laboratoire ISM, CNRS UMR 5255, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux INP ׀ IBMM, CNRS, UMR 5247, Université de Montpellier, ENSCM ׀ Laboratoire EIPL UPR 9025 CNRS, Université de Marseille With the financial support of Terres Univia, the Interprofession des huiles et protéines végétales, industrialists from the Corps gras sector, the Nouvelle Aquitaine Region, as well as the ERDF.
 Morise et al. 2004; doi: 10.1007/s11745-004-1236-0 ׀ Couëdelo et al. 2010; doi: 10.1017/S000711451000454X ׀ Couëdelo et al. 2012; doi: 10.3945/jn.111.146290 ׀ Couëdelo et al., 2015; doi: 10.1039/c5fo00070j ׀Sehl et al., 2019; doi: 10.1017/S0007114519001491 ׀ Robert et al., 2020; doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2019.11.017 ׀ Sehl et al., 2020; doi: 10.1039/c9fo02953b