American Adults Are Majorly Underconsuming These Types Of Omega-3 Fats, Study Finds
When you're looking at a healthy and balanced meal plan, you'll find there are an array of vitamins and minerals that are essential to the proper functioning of your body. While carbs, protein, and healthy fats are the macronutrients we often hear the most about, there are other subcategories such as fiber, B vitamins, and polyunsaturated fats (like omega-3s) that are all just as important to feeling great and maintaining good health.
However, a new study1 in Current Developments in Nutrition examining the latest, nationally representative research data found that most American adults are not sufficiently meeting certain omega-3 fat needs (by a long shot), which can have widespread implications on health (think heart, brain, joints, and more).*
What the study found.
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 (i.e., 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."*
How you can increase your omega-3 fat intake.
Fortunately, by making intentional changes to your diet and supplement routine you can bridge this nutritional gap for the sake of your health and longevity. The American Heart Association "recommends consuming oily fish at least twice per week2, which equals approximately 500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA," as Ferira previously alluded to. To help reach this baseline benchmark, some fish that are good sources of EPA and DHA are:
Along with incorporating more fish into your diet, a high-quality omega-3 supplement can also be useful for reaching your needs on a daily basis. That's exactly why mbg created omega-3 potency+, to ensure omega-3 nutritional adequacy each day while also supporting brain, heart, and overall health with 1.5 grams of pure and sustainably sourced marine omega-3s EPA and DHA in just two gelcaps.*
An added bonus? While many omega-3 supplements may not leave the most pleasant taste in your mouth, omega-3 potency+ is formulated with organic lemon oil and rosemary for freshness and zero aftertaste.
All omega-3 fatty acids are vital in supporting heart and brain health, among many other functions, thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in the body.* Therefore, bridging the existing gaps many Americans have for EPA and DHA has "massive, positive potential for the health of our nation," concludes Ferira.
Staying mindful of the food you're regularly consuming and integrating a pure and sustainable omega-3 supplement into your daily routine are two easy ways to support your long-term health.* Even if you aren't a fan of fish, mbg's omega-3 potency+ can give your body the nourishment it needs (sans fishy burps!).
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.