Lipids have multiple physiological roles that are biologically vital. Soybean oil lipid emulsions have been the mainstay of parenteral nutrition lipid formulations for decades in North America. Utilizing intravenous lipid emulsions in parenteral nutrition has minimized the dependence on dextrose as a major source of nonprotein calories and prevents the clinical consequences of essential fatty acid deficiency. Emerging literature has indicated that there are benefits to utilizing alternative lipids such as olive/soy-based formulations, and combination lipids such as soy/MCT/olive/fish oil, compared with soybean based lipids, as they have less inflammatory properties, are immune modulating, have higher antioxidant content, decrease risk of cholestasis, and improve clinical outcomes in certain subgroups of patients. The objective of this article is to review the history of IVLE, their composition, the different generations of widely available IVLE, the variables to consider when selecting lipids, and the complications of IVLE and how to minimize them.
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