Canadian kids are omega-3 deficient
A study published in this month's edition of the Journal of Nutrition reveals that most Canadian children are deficient in the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon and tuna.
Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found that 78 percent of the Canadian children they tested do not consume enough EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
The median daily EPA and DHA intake of the 4- to 8-year-olds they sampled was only 31.5 milligrams. The Institute of Medicine's recommended daily EPA and DHA intake is 90 milligrams, while the American Dietician Association and the Dieticians of Canada call for 351 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily.
American children aren't consuming enough omega-3s, either. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the average daily EPA and DHA intake of 4- to 8-year-olds is 50 milligrams.
"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," the researchers said. "This gap can be readily filled with an increased consumption of seafood containing DHA and EPA, the increased availability of foods that have been nutritionally enriched with various delivery forms of LC PUFA, and the use of supplementation where necessary."
DHA helps aid the development of children's brains and eyes, while both DHA and EPA are vital to cognitive function and may curtail behavior and learning disorders. Research also indicates that DHA and EPA reduces inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, and the risk of type 1 diabetes.
"It's critical for parents to understand that children, and everyone for that matter, need both EPA and DHA from fish oil in their diet," said Dr. William Sears, the study's co-author and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California-Irvine's School of Medicine.