The three omega-3 fats that your body needs to thrive are ALA, EPA, and DHA, and while they can be obtained through your diet and supplementation routine, new information gathered from analyzing the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) research data has shown that many people are not getting what they need. After analyzing the data, the study found that although people are generally meeting their daily ALA needs, intake of EPA and DHA is well below what is recommended for adults.
More specifically, the study revealed that most people are only consuming around 111 milligrams of both EPA and DHA on average per day (ie, only 35 milligrams of EPA and 76 milligrams of DHA), demonstrating a significant dietary gap in nutritional adequacy and also whole -body health implications.
Although the research shows Americans are generally meeting their plant-derived omega-3 ALA needs (1.1 grams/day for females and 1.6 grams/day for males), this was definitely not the case for marine omega-3s EPA and DHA.
If you were wondering why that might be, nutrition scientist Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, shares this intel: “One of the main reasons for the ALA sufficiency in our nation is the widespread consumption of ALA-containing oils like canola oil and soybean oil, in cooking but also in processed foods we should try to consume less of.”
So American adults are consuming enough ALA but failing on the EPA and DHA omega-3 front. But how bad is our “failing score”? Ferira puts things in perspective, sharing this: “Given that minimum baseline recommendations for EPA plus DHA consumption hover around 250 to 500 milligrams daily and that, in fact, 1 gram and higher of this omega-3 duo is recommended for people with cardiovascular health considerations—our nation’s underconsumption (111 milligrams on average) of these two healthy fats is truly concerning.”*
Omega-3 nutrient gaps are not discussed as often as other nutrients (like vitamin D), but we think they should be.