Both n−6 and n−3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are recognized as essential nutrients in the human diet, yet reliable data on population intakes are limited. The aim of the present study was to ascertain the dietary intakes and food sources of individual n−6 and n−3 PUFA in the Australian population. An existing database with fatty acid composition data on 1690 foods was updated with newly validated data on 150 foods to estimate the fatty acid content of foods recorded as eaten by 10,851 adults in the 1995 Australian National Nutrition Survey. Average daily intakes of linoleic (LA), arachidonic (AA), α-linolenic (LNA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosapentaenoic (DPA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids were 10.8, 0.052, 1.17, 0.056, 0.026, and 0.106 g, respectively, with longchain (LC) n−3 PUFA (addition of FPA, DPA, and DHA) totaling 0.189 g; median intakes were considerably lower (9.0 g LA, 0.024 g AA, 0.95 g LNA, 0.008 g EPA, 0.006 g DPA, 0.015 g DHA, and 0.029 g LC n−3 PUFA). Fats and oils, meat and poultry, cereal-based products and cereals, vegetables, and nuts and seeds were important sources of n−6 PUFA, while cereal-based products, fats and oils, meat and poultry, cereals, milk products, and vegetable products were sources of LNA. As expected, seafood was the main source of LC n−3 PUFA, contributing 71%, while meat and eggs contributed 20 and 6%, respectively. The results indicate that the majority of Australians are failing to meet intake recommendations for LC n−3 PUFA (>0.2 g per day) and emphasize the need for strategies, to increase the availability and consumption of n−3-containing foods.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Similar content being viewed by others
- (α-1 NA, 18∶3n−3):
- (AA 20∶4n−6):
- (DHA, 22∶6n−3):
- (DPA, 22∶5n−3):
- (EPA, 20∶5n−3):
European Academy of Nutritional Sciences
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids
- (LA, 18∶2n−6):
long-chain n−3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- (LC n−3 PUFA, 20∶5n−3, 22∶5n−3, and 22∶6n−3):
National Health and Medical Research Council
National Heart Foundation
National Nutrition Survey
monounsaturated fatty acids
n−3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- (n−3 PUFA):
n−6 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- (n−6 PUFA):
saturated fatty acids (SAF)
National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC] (1992) Report of the NHMRC Working Party: The Role of Polyunsaturated Fats in the Australian Diet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
British Nutrition Foundation Task Force (1992) Unsaturated Fatty Acids—Nutritional and Physiological Significance, Chapman & Hall, London.
Sugano, M. (1996) Characteristics of Fats in Japanese Diets and Current Recommendations, Lipids 31 (Suppl.), S283-S286.
de Deckere, E.A., Korver, O., Verschuren, P.M., and Katan, M.B. (1998) Health Aspects of Fish and n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids from Plant and Marine Origin, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 52, 749–753.
Simopoulos, A.P., Leaf, A., and Salem, N., Jr. (1999) Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Food Aust. 51, 332–333.
National Heart Foundation of Australia (1999) A Review of the Relationship Between Dietary Fat and Cardiovascular Disease, Aust. J. Nutr. Diet 56 (4S), S5-S22.
Bahri, D., Gusko, A., Hamm, M., Kasper, H., Klor, H.U., Neuberger, D., and Singer, P. (2002) Significance and Recommended Dietary Intake of Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids—A Consensus Statement of the Omega-3 Working Group [German], Ernahrungs-Umschau 49(3) (Abstr.).
Food and Nutrition Board (2002) Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Taken from the web site: http:// www4.nationalacademies.org/IOM/IOMHome.nsf/Pages/FNB+ Reports (accessed September 2002).
Sinclair, A., O'Dea, K., and Johnson, L. (1994) Estimation of the n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Status in a Group of Urban Australians by the Analysis of Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids, Aust. J. Nutr. Diet. 51, 53–56.
Mann, N., Johnson, L.G., Warrick, G.E., and Sinclair, A.J. (1995) The Arachidonic Acid Content of the Australian Diet Is Lower than Previously Estimated, J. Nutr. 125, 1–8.
Ollis, T.E., Meyer, B.J., and Howe, P.R.C. (1999) Australian Food Sources and Intakes of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Ann. Nutr. Metab. 43, 346–355.
Mann, N.J., Sinclair, A.J., Percival, P., Lewis, J.L., Meyer, B.J., and Howe, P.R.C. (2003) Development of a Database of Fatty Acids of Australian Foods, Nutr. Diet. 60(1), 34–37.
Australia New Zealand Food Authority (1999) AUSNUT—Australian Food and Nutrient Database, Australia New Zealand Food Authority, Canberra.
Australia New Zealand Food Authority. (2000) AUSNUT—Australian Food and Nutrient Database: Supplement on Fatty Acids (unpublished), Australia New Zealand Food Authority, Canberra.
McLennan, W., and Podger, A. (1997) National Nutrition Survey, Selected Highlights, Australia, Australian Government Publishing Services, Canberra.
Harel, Z., Riggs, S., Vaz, R., White, L., and Menzies, G. (2001) Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Adolescents: Knowledge and Consumption, J. Adolesc. Health 28, 10–15.
Meade, J.F. (1971) The Metabolism of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, in Progress in the Chemistry of Fats and Other Lipids (Holman, R.T., ed.), Vol. 9, pp. 161–189, Pergamon Press, Oxford.
Lands, W.E., Libelt, B., Morris, A., Kramer, N.C., Prewitt, T.E., Bowen, P., Schmeisser, D., Davidson, M.H., and Burns, J.H. (1992) Maintenance of Lower Proportion of (n−6) Eicosanoid Precursors in Phospholipids of Human Plasma in Response to Added Dietary (n−3) Fatty Acids, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1180, 147–162.
Ridges, L., Grigonis-Deane, E., Meyer, B.J., Astheimer, L.B., McLennan, P., and Howe, P.R.C. (2001) Influence of Dietary Omega-6 Fatty Acid Intake on Uptake and Utilisation of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Ann. Nutr. Metab. 45 (Suppl. 1), 94 (Abstr.).
Mantzioris, E., James, M.J., Gibson, R.A., and Cleland, L.G. (1994) Dietary Substitution with an (α)-Linolenic Acid-Rich Vegetable Oil Increases Eicosapentaneoic Acid Concentrations in Tissues, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59, 1304–1309.
Fischer, S., and Weber, P.C. (1983) Thromboxane A3 Is Formed in Human Platelets After, Dietary Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 116, 1091–1099.
Fischer, S., and Weber, P.C. (1984) Prostaglandin I3 Is Formed in vivo in Man After Dietary Eicosapentaenoic, Acid, Nature 307, 165–168.
Eaton, S.B., Eaton, S., Sinclair, A.J., Cordain, L., and Mann, N.J. (1998) The Return of n−3 Fatty Acids into the Food Supply. 1. Land-Based Animal Food Products and Their Effects, in World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics (Simopoulos, A.P., ed.), Vol. 88, pp. 12–23, Karger, Basel.
Bang, H.O., Dyerberg, J., and Sinclair, H.M. (1980) The Composition of the Eskimo Food in Northwestern Greenland, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 42, 560–563.
Nettleton, J. (1995) Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health, Chapman & Hall, New York.
GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators (1999) Dietary Supplementation with n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Vitamin E After Myocardial Infarction: Results of the GISSI- Prevenzione Trial, Lancet 354, 447–455.
Okuyama, H., Kobayashi, T., and Watanabe, S. (1997) Dietary Fatty Acids—The n−6/n−3 Balance and Chronic Elderly Diseases. Excess Linoleic Acid and Relative n−3 Deficiency Syndrome seen in Japan, Prog. Lipid Res. 35, 409–457.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (2000) Claims in Relation to Omega Fatty Acid Content of Foods, pp. 68–69, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. P30, Canberra.
About this article
Cite this article
Meyer, B.J., Mann, N.J., Lewis, J.L. et al. Dietary intakes and food sources of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lipids 38, 391–398 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-003-1074-0