Newest Recommended Daily Intakes of Essential Fatty Acids

The recommended daily intakes of essential fatty acids vary from organization to organization. Even in a low fat diet sufficient essential fatty acids can be consumed by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. While the USDA has not established recommended daily intakes of essential fatty acids, they have established what they refer to as ?Adequate Intake? for adults and children. Here we look at different recommendations for different age groups and various conditions.

Essential fatty acids are defined as those that cannot be created within the body and must be obtained from food or through supplementation. They include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicospentaenoic acid (EPA). The body can use ALA, found in vegetable and nut oils, to create DHA and EPA, but the process is inefficient. In the human diet EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish oils.

The United States has not established recommended daily intakes of essential fatty acids. The amounts established as ?Adequate Intakes? (AI) are believed to be enough to meet the needs of most individuals in order to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, but a lack of data prevents high confidence in these figures. In other words, different individuals may have different needs.

For adult males, the AI of omega-3 fatty acids is believed to be around 1.6 grams per day. For adult women, the AI is 1.1 grams per day, but during pregnancy is increased to 1.4 grams per day and 1.3 g/day when breastfeeding. Children and infants need omega-3 fatty acids, as well. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the addition of DHA to infant formula. DHA is found in the brain in large quantities and is important for neurological development and growth.

For those adults who use a low fat diet sufficient essential fatty acids can be easily obtained by eating fish 3-5 times per week or with daily fish oil supplements. Most major health organizations and nutritionists recommend that no more than 30% of a person?s total caloric intake should come from fat, of any kind. So, don?t fry your fish. Baking or grilling generally does not add extra unneeded fat.

Regretfully most people consume trans fatty acids, which have no real function in the human body and only serve to clog the arteries and increase abdominal fat. Trans fatty acids are found in butter, shortening, lard and most processed foods. Label requirements have made it easier to plan a diet that eliminates trans fats, but includes omega-3s and other essential fatty acids.

Recommended Daily Intakes of Essential Fatty Acids for Arthritis Sufferers

Numerous clinical trials have shown that EPA and DHA fatty acids derived from fish oil reduce inflammation and other symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as osteoarthritis. Recommended consumption for arthritis sufferers is much greater than for the general population and many health care practitioners feel that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could reduce the risk of developing joint problems as we age.

The recommended daily intake for those with arthritis is 3-5 grams per day. It is nearly impossible to get this much without taking a daily fish oil supplement, but not all supplements are the same. Cod liver oil, for example, contains too much vitamin A and D. These vitamins are toxic at high levels. And, liver oils are higher in mercury content and other contaminants than oils derived from fleshy fish.

Recommended daily intakes of essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 EPA and DHA, is higher for those who have heart disease, or those who are at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Research has shown that fish oil supplements containing these fatty acids lowers cholesterol levels, reduces high blood pressure and helps regulate heart rhythm. 3-5 grams per day is the recommendation, once again.

High cholesterol levels lead to arthrosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and can eventually cause blockages leading to heart attacks or strokes. High blood pressure weakens the walls of arteries, and when left untreated can eventually lead to heart failure.

Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a health writer. Currently she is writing a series of articles about omega-3 fatty acids. Read more at Best Fish Oil Dietary Supplements - Best Fish Oil Dietary Supplements

Increased consumption of essential fatty acids has been recommended for several other conditions, including ADHD in children and adults. To learn more about recommended daily intakes of essential fatty acids and choosing the best fish oil supplements, please visit the Fish Oil Guide.


By: Patsy Hamilton