Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake by Age, Gender, and Pregnancy Status in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003⁻2014

Thompson M, Hein N, Hanson C, Smith LM, Anderson-Berry A, Richter CK, Stessy Bisselou K, Kusi Appiah A, Kris-Etherton P, Skulas-Ray AC, Nordgren TM (2019) Nutrients.  2019 Jan;11(1).  pii: E177. doi: 10.3390/nu11010177. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Despite the importance of n-3 fatty acids for health, intakes remain below recommended levels.

The objective of this study was to provide an updated assessment of fish and n-3 
fatty acid intake (i.e., eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and EPA+DHA) in the United States using the 2003⁻2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data (n = 45,347)). Over this survey period, toddlers, children, and adolescents (aged 1⁻19) had significantly lower n-3 fatty acid intake (p < 0.001) compared to adults and seniors, which remained significant after adjusting for caloric intake.

Females demonstrated lower n-3 
fatty acid intake than males (p < 0.001), with adult and senior women having significantly lower intakes compared to men in the same age categories (p < 0.001) after adjustment for energy intake. Women also consumed less fish than men (5.8 versus 6.1 servings/month, p < 0.001). The estimated intakes of n-3 fatty acids in pregnant women did not differ from non-pregnant women (p = 0.6 for EPA+DHA), although pregnant women reported consuming less high n-3 fattyacid-containing fish than non-pregnant women (1.8 versus 2.6 servings/month, p < 0.001).

Our findings indicate that subgroups of the population may be at higher risk of n-3 
fatty acid intakes below recommended levels.


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