What is the average intake of omega-3 in different regions of the world?

A number of studies point out that the intake of the long-chained omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in big parts of the population is too low. These fatty acids are very interesting because they play a decisive role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the combined intake of 500 mg/day of both fatty acids. However, it is not necessary to eat fish on a daily basis, it is also possible to meet the needs with one or two servings of fish per week.

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To put this recommendation into perspective it is worth to take a look at the average intake of different regions of the world just to get an impression of the current situation.

Land or regionSpecificationIntake of EPA + DHA (mg/day)
Generallow consumption of fish<<100
AustraliaAdults143
North AmericaAdults200
UKAdults244
Central EuropeAdults250
FranceWomen, 45–63 years344
Northern EuropeAdults590
JapanAdults950


Countries with a high fish consumption naturally have the highest intakes of EPA and DHA. However, many regions fall below the recommendations. The mean values also disguise the fact that fish is not on the menu for a large proportion of the population. To give an example: 27 % of all British never eat fatty sea fish. People who don't eat fish are at the highest risk of a critical undersupply.

Source: D. Givens et al., Current intakes of EPA and DHA in European populations and the potential of animal-derived foods to increase them, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2008), 67, 273–280

Image: Larry Jacobsen,
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ljguitar/4613953552 (CC BY 2.0)

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