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Very long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the UK and the potential of animal-derived foods to increase intake

Givens, D. I. and Gibbs, R. A. ORCID: (2006) Very long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the UK and the potential of animal-derived foods to increase intake. Nutrition Bulletin, 31. pp. 104-110. ISSN 0141-9684

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2006.00554.x


The very long chain (VLC) n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are widely recognised to have beneficial effects on human health. However, recommended intakes of VLC n-3 PUFA (450 mg/day) are not being met by the diet in the majority of the population mainly because of low consumption of oil-rich fish. Current mean intake of VLC n-3 PUFA by adults is estimated to be about 282 mg/day with EPA and DHA contributing about 244 mg/day. Furthermore, the fact that only about 27% of adults eat any oil-rich fish (excluding canned tuna) and knowledge of the poor conversion of α-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA in vivo, particularly in men, leads to the need to review current dietary sources of these fatty acids. Animal-derived foods are likely to have an important function in increasing intake and studies have shown that feeding fish oils to animals can increase the EPA and DHA content of the resulting food products. This paper highlights the importance of examining current and projected consumption trends of meat and other animal products when exploring the potential impact of enriched foods by means of altering animal diets. When related to current food consumption data, potential dietary intakes of EPA+DHA from foods derived from animals fed enriched diets are calculated to be about 231 mg/day. If widely consumed, such foods could have a significant impact on progression of conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Consideration is also given to the sources of VLC n-3 PUFA in animal diets, with the sustainability of fish oil being questioned and the need to investigate the use of alternative dietary sources such as those of algal origin.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Food Security
ID Code:8569
Uncontrolled Keywords:animal-derived foods, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, intakes, national food surveys

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