Dietary intakes of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids among US childbearing-age and pregnant women: An analysis of NHANES 2001–2014

Zhiying Zhang, Victor L. Fulgoni, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Susan Hazels Mitmesser

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49 Citations (SciVal)


Background: The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend that the general population should consume about 8 ounces (oz.) per week of a variety of seafood, providing approximately 250 mg per day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and that pregnant and lactating women should consume 8–12 oz. per week of seafood. Methods: We determined the usual intakes, percentage not meeting recommendations, and trends in EPA and DHA intakes among childbearing-age and pregnant women (15–44 years of age) using the NHANES cycles 2001–2002 through 2013–2014. Results: For the childbearing-age women, the mean usual intake of seafood was 0.44 ± 0.02 oz. equivalent per day and 100% of the population was below the DGA recommendation. Mean usual intakes of EPA, DHA, and combined EPA and DHA from foods and dietary supplements combined were 26.8 ± 1.4, 62.2 ± 1.9, and 88.1 ± 3.0 mg per day, respectively. Over 95% of the sample did not meet the daily intakes of 250 mg EPA and DHA. Similar results were observed for pregnant women. After controlling for covariates, there were slight but significant increases in EPA and DHA intakes from foods and dietary supplements over the 14-year span among childbearing-age (p = 0.005) and pregnant women (p = 0.002). Conclusions: It was estimated that a majority of U.S. childbearing-age and pregnant women consumed significantly lower amounts of seafood than what the DGA recommends, which subsequently leads to low intakes of EPA and DHA; in addition, dietary supplement use has not eliminated the nutrient shortfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number416
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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