Halifax, Nova Scotia/PRNewswire - A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that most Canadian children are deficient in Omega-3 EPA/DHA.
The study found that 78% of the children trialed were not receiving adequate amounts of Omega-3 EPA and DHA in their diets.
Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario found that the median daily consumption of Omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) was only 31.5mg, in a sample group of four to eight year olds. In this study researchers used the suggested daily intake recommended by the Institute of Medicine which is only 90 mg of Omega-3 EPA/DHA per day. Even using this low recommendation level, the study shows that 78% of the sampled Canadian children were well below the recommended level. The study also notes that the recommendation by the American Dietician Association and the Dieticians of Canada is 351 mg of EPA/DHA per day. Based on this recommendation 90% of the children in the study were deficient in Omega-3 EPA/DHA. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that in the United States the average consumption of Omega-3 EPA/DHA for children four to eight years of age is only 50 mg/day. Therefore, although the study only involved Canadian children, we know that American children are also well below the recommended levels.
Omega-3 EPA/DHA is essential at all stages of life. For infants up to the age of three, DHA is essential for the development of the brain and eyes. After the age of three, both EPA and DHA are important for cognitive function, and research suggests that it may improve behavior and learning disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Additionally research indicates that Omega-3 EPA/DHA may reduce inflammatory conditions such as asthma, childhood depression, and reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.
The researchers from Guelph University concluded "There is an apparent need to create greater awareness of the importance of the long-chain (LC) omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) among both health professionals and the general public as well as the existing gap between actual and recommended intakes from various sources. This gap can be readily filled with an increased consumption of fish/seafood containing (Omega-3) DHA/EPA, the increased availability of foods that have been nutritionally enriched with various delivery forms of LC PUFA (Omega-3) (DHA/EPA), and the use of supplementation where necessary."
Lori Covert, vice president of Marketing & Communications for Ocean Nutrition Canada explained "This new study is really important because although research shows that awareness of the health benefits of Omega-3 EPA/DHA is high most people still do not consume enough fish. In fact, more than 80% of Americans do not consume at least two 4 oz servings of oily fish per week resulting in an Omega-3 EPA/DHA deficiency." Covert continued "That is why we have partnered with major food manufacturers to fortify every day foods with our tasteless, odorless Omega-3 EPA/DHA fish oil ingredient."
"For many years now infant formula has been supplemented with DHA so many parents are already aware of the health benefits associated with Omega-3 for their children. However, it's critical for parents to understand that children, and everyone for that matter, need both Omega-3 EPA and DHA from fish oil in their diet." Dr. Sears, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine continued, "We need parents to understand that fish oil is the only source of both EPA and DHA. DHA has benefits for infant's brain and eye development. However, as infants grow they need both Omega-3 EPA and DHA for long-term cognitive development and to improve symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), and to reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes."
From the September 14, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition