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Essential Fats (EFA’s)

By Hanan Saleh

Paediatric Dietician


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Written By Hanan Saleh

The human brain is nearly 60% fat and neurological development is especially rapid in the first 2 years of life. Fat intake during this critical time is essential to optimise energy intake and ultimately increase the supply of essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3. Omega-3 fats are important for eye function, learning, memory, vision and behaviour. As our bodies are unable to make omega-3 fatty acids (with the exception of breast milk), it is vital to the development of our brain that we consume these fatty acids in our diet. Omega 3 is a fat and has both long & short chain fatty acids:

  1. Long Chain fatty acids: EPA & DHA which are marine sourced
  2. Short chain fatty acids: ALA which are plant/seed sourced

How much do they need?

NHMRC Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends to “Aim for about 2 serves of fish a week, preferable oily fish”. If you can’t get fish into your child’s diet, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. A fish oil supplement is also recommended. A note of advice, watch for high sugar content of some of the children’s fish oils. Look out for a brand that includes high levels of EPA and DHA and that’s mercury free.

Age RDI mg/day
1 to 3 years old 40
4 to 8 years old 55
Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand[v]

Highest Sources of Omega 3 Per Serve

The best sources of long chain omega-3 fats are fish and seafood, foods enriched with omega-3s and red meat.

 

FOOD SERVE SIZE DHA & EPA per SERVE (mg)
Atlantic Salmon 150g 2346
Canned Salmon, pink 150g 2100
Tuna, fresh, cooked 150g 3150
Barramundi 150g 550
Mackerel 150g 575
Gem fish 150g 640
Anchovies 75g 1125
Canned Sardines 150g 3753
Canned tuna 100g 600
Prawns 150g 180
Fish Roe (Caviar Black) 1 tablespoon 1085
Flaxseeds 1 tablespoon 2300
Walnuts 30g 1100
Pumpkin Seeds 1 tablespoon 50
Chia Seeds 1 tablespoon 1500
Canola Oil 1 tablespoon 1300
Omega 3 enriched eggs 1 egg 180-200
Grass Fed Cattle Variable
Omega 3 enriched bread 2 slices 113
Vegetables Not a good source
Soy beans (edamame) ½ cup 300
Fish oil Supplements 1 tablet 1000
Breast milk Dependant on mothers intake

Source:

2015 Food Standards Australia New Zealand food nutrient data base last accessed 18/7/15[vi] http://www.foodstandards.gov.au
By Hanan Saleh 1 August 2015 references

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor for underlying illness. Before beginning dietary investigation, consult a dietician with an interest in food intolerance. Parents should exercise caution with vitamins and supplements and monitor their children’s intake of these and other foods to ensure that kids do not get too much of these nutrients. This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner. The development of this document is not influenced by commercial organisations.

  • current version

    Hanan Saleh
  • PEER REVIEWER

    Hanan Saleh
  • document id

  • next review

    27.08.2015

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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Essential Fats (EFA’s)

nutrition

Essential Fats (EFA’s) are one of the Top 10 Nutrients required for Kids Health and development. They are critical for healthy brain development. The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the diet. However, two essential fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic acid, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialised fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

By Evelyn Lewin 01.08.2015
references
  • current version

    Hanan Saleh
  • PEER REVIEWER

    Hanan Saleh
  • document id

    1203450
  • next review

    27.08.2015

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

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essential-fats-efas   rich Recipes

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top 10 nutrients

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nutrition protocols for kids

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MEET THE EXPERTS

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