Background/Aims: Adequate intakes of Long Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs) are required for foetal growth, brain development and to support a healthy pregnancy. This study aimed to investigate dietary intakes and food sources of n-3 LC-PUFAs (DHA and EPA) in a cohort of New Zealand pregnant women.
Method: Pregnant women (n=596) in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy from throughout NZ completed an online validated FFQ to assess PUFA intakes over the past three months. PUFA intakes were compared with dietary recommendations using frequency summary statistics and one-sampled t-tests.
Results: Estimated mean±SD daily intakes were: 360±510mg total n-3 LC-PUFA (recommended 500mg/d; P˂0.001), 160±260mg EPA (recommended 220mg/d; P˂0.001), and 200±250mg/d DHA (recommended 200mg/d; P=0.87), with 30.9% of participants consuming more than 200mg/d DHA. Participants taking PUFA supplements (19.6%) had mean intakes of 430±310mg/d DHA, with 79.5% meeting DHA recommendations. For participants not taking PUFA supplements (80.4%), DHA intakes were 140±200mg/d and only 19% met the recommendations. Across all women fish/seafood were the main contributors of DHA (84.8%) and EPA (82.1%) intakes, yet only 9.5% and 12.2% of women consumed canned fish or fresh/frozen fish at least twice per week.
Conclusion: The majority of women did not meet the recommended intakes for DHA, which may be in part due to low fish/seafood intakes. These findings highlight the need for improved nutrition advice on the benefits of consuming n-3 LC-PUFA rich foods such as fish/seafood during pregnancy.
Funding Source: School of Food and Nutrition, Massey University