There is controversy whether children should have a dietary supply of preformed long-chain polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. The aims of the workshop were to review evidence for a possible benefit of a preformed EPA and/or DHA supply, of data required to set desirable intakes for children aged 2–12 years, and of research priorities. The authors concluded that EPA and DHA intakes per kg body weight may often be low in 2- to 12-year-old children, relative to intakes per kg body weight of breast-fed infants and adult intakes, but reliable data are scarce. Little information is available that increasing dietary intakes of EPA or DHA in children has benefits to physical or mental function or other health endpoints. Studies addressing EPA and DHA intakes and tissue status among groups of children with different dietary habits, and measures of relevant development and health endpoints, are needed for developing potential advice on desirable intakes of EPA and/or DHA in children. At this time it appears prudent to advise that dietary intakes in childhood are consistent with future eating patterns supporting adult health, such as prevention of metabolic disorders and CVD, supporting immune function, and reproductive health. In conclusion, the available information relating dietary EPA and DHA intakes in children aged 2–12 years to growth, development and health is insufficient to derive dietary intake recommendations for EPA and DHA. Adequately designed studies addressing dietary intakes, measures of status and relevant functional or health effects across this age group are needed.
(Received June 10 2009)
(Revised August 04 2009)
(Accepted August 05 2009)
(Online publication February 26 2010)