Study Finds Most US Adults and Children Have Low Blood Serum Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA, DPA and DHA

WEST HILLS, Calif. (May 24, 2021) – A research article published in BMJ Open found that over 2/3 of US adults and 95% of US Children do not currently consume enough omega-3s in their daily diet to meet their nutritional needs based on the US Dietary Guidelines.

This cross-sectional study conducted by Pharmavite, the makers of Nature Made vitamins and supplements, analyzed US population data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012 to determine serum (blood) biomarker reference ranges of circulating long chain (LC) omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DPA, and DHA). The 2011-2012 NHANES Survey was the most recent survey that made this information available. The study examined the proportion of the US population demonstrating an omega-3 nutrient gap, with serum omega-3 concentrations below US Dietary Guideline Recommendations and below levels associated with a decrease in cardiovascular risk.

“Low serum levels confirm that omega-3 fatty acid intakes fall short for most Americans, particularly young children, and it reveals that more work is needed in educating the public about the important role EPA, DPA, and DHA play in supporting human health,” said Dr. Susan Mitmesser, VP, Science & Technology, Pharmavite. “Healthy habits formed early in development inform and pave a healthy path later in life, so it’s critical that in addition to sleep and physical activity, young children have access to foods rich in essential nutrients including omega-3s.”

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • Despite the large body of research indicating the benefits of omega 3s, especially EPA and DHA, regular dietary intake of omega-3s remains low in the US population across all life stages. Low serum concentrations of EPA, DHA, and the sum of all omega-3 fatty acids were seen across all life stages.
  • Based on life stages, gender and demographic factors, the populations found to have particularly low EPA and/or DHA serum concentrations include children ages 2-5 years, adult males, and Mexican American/Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black individuals.

Supportive but not conclusive research indicates that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but there’s a growing body of research that suggests omega-3s may play an even greater role than previously thought in supporting other areas of human health and wellbeing, particularly in regards to supporting a healthy mood.

Earlier this year, a study conducted by Pharmavite and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, was the first to evaluate the relationship between depression and the levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in the circulatory system (based on analysis of NHANES 2011-2012). Analysis of the data revealed that adults with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels correlated with lower risk of depression and for adults with higher EPA there was correlation with lower risk of impact of depression on daily life.

Rachel A. Murphy, Prasad Devarshi, Shauna Ekimura, Keri Marshall and Dr. Susan Mitmesser. Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acid Serum Concentrations Across Life Stages in the United State: An Analysis of NHANES 2011-2012. BMJ Open. Volume 11, issue 5.

Rachel A. Murphy, Prasad Devarshi, Shauna Ekimura, Keri Marshall and Dr. Susan H. Mitmesser. Serum Long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression Among Adults in the United States: An Analysis of NHANES 2011-2012. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. Volume 4, April 2021, 100089.

About Pharmavite LLC

Pharmavite is a pioneer in the health and wellness industry, earning the trust of consumers, healthcare professionals and retailers by developing innovative vitamin and supplement solutions backed by science that adhere to strict manufacturing practices. Through its Nature Made®, EQUELLE®, and MegaFood® brands, Pharmavite is dedicated to helping people live healthier, more vital lives. Based in California, Pharmavite is a subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Visit and follow us on LinkedIn for the latest news and information about Pharmavite and its brands.


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