Estimated Dietary Intakes of Arachidonic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid in Infants and Young Children Living in Developing Countries

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There are only few data on dietary arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake in infants from developing countries, and current global recommendations on intake during early life may not reflect the needs of the world's most vulnerable infants. The aim of the study was to provide estimates of intake of ARA and DHA in infants and young children aged 6-36 months who live in developing countries.


FAO Food Balance Sheets and fatty acid composition data from Australian food composition tables were utilized to generate mean per capita intake estimates for DHA and ARA in developing countries. The median daily intake of DHA and ARA in children age 6-36 months in each country was determined by combining the fatty acid composition of breast milk and complementary foods with the estimated intakes being weighted according to median duration of any breastfeeding.


The median daily dietary intake for ARA and DHA across 76 developing countries was 64.0 and 48.9 mg/day, respectively. The lowest complementary food intake of ARA and DHA was present in countries with the lowest gross national income and highest birth rates.


Global recommendations on ARA and DHA in early life need to reflect the specific needs of infants and families living in low income countries, and country-specific food policies should address gaps between recommended and achieved intakes.

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