Omega-3 fatty acid intake by age, gender, and pregnancy status in the United States: National health and nutrition examination survey 2003–2014

Maranda Thompson, Nicholas Hein, Corrine Hanson, Lynette M. Smith, Ann Anderson-Berry, Chesney K. Richter, Karl Stessy Bisselou, Adams Kusi Appiah, Penny Kris-Etherton, Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Tara M. Nordgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Despite the importance of n-3 fatty acids for health, intakes remain below recommended levels. The objective of this study was to provide an updated assessment of fish and n-3 fatty acid intake (i.e., eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and EPA+DHA) in the United States using the 2003–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data (n = 45,347)). Over this survey period, toddlers, children, and adolescents (aged 1–19) had significantly lower n-3 fatty acid intake (p < 0.001) compared to adults and seniors, which remained significant after adjusting for caloric intake. Females demonstrated lower n-3 fatty acid intake than males (p < 0.001), with adult and senior women having significantly lower intakes compared to men in the same age categories (p < 0.001) after adjustment for energy intake. Women also consumed less fish than men (5.8 versus 6.1 servings/month, p < 0.001). The estimated intakes of n-3 fatty acids in pregnant women did not differ from non-pregnant women (p = 0.6 for EPA+DHA), although pregnant women reported consuming less high n-3 fatty acid-containing fish than non-pregnant women (1.8 versus 2.6 servings/month, p < 0.001). Our findings indicate that subgroups of the population may be at higher risk of n-3 fatty acid intakes below recommended levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number177
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Fish oil supplements
  • Lifespan
  • Oily fish
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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