Estimates of essential fatty acid intakes, including (n-3) PUFA, are available in pediatric populations based on limited indirect approaches. Furthermore, recommended intakes for short- and long-chain (LC) (n-3) PUFA have emerged for this population. This study provides direct quantification of fatty acid intakes in children aged 4-8 y. Identical portions of all food and natural health products consumed over 3 d were collected. Duplicate samples were analyzed for energy, macronutrients, and fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by high performance capillary GLC. The results for 41 children [25 females, 16 males; 5.8 +/- 0.2 y (mean age +/- SEM)] showed daily energy intakes of 5879 +/- 211 kJ (mean +/- SEM) and (n-3) PUFA intakes in mg/d as follows: ALA, 1161 +/- 108; EPA, 38.4 +/- 9.3; DPA, 26.3 +/- 3.9; and DHA, 54.1 +/- 11.4. Based on the Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine, 61% of the children met the adequate intake for ALA and 22% met the suggested adequate intake for DHA+EPA (10% of the adequate intake for ALA). These intakes were also compared with the recent Australia/New Zealand recommendations for children, where only 51% met the recommended intake for EPA+DPA+DHA.

These results demonstrate a moderate shortfall in ALA intake in Canadian children and a nutrient gap for the LC (n-3) PUFA, including DHA, when comparing intakes for this population to suggested and recommended intakes.

PMID: 19158221

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