Sources of EPA and DHA

Seafood is the primary source for EPA and DHA in human diets. Estimated amounts of EPA and DHA in the top seafood types consumed are shown in Table 2-8. The figures suggest that, other than salmon, the most frequently consumed types of fish are not particularly rich sources of these fatty acids.

The fatty acid concentration of farmed fish reflects the composition of the diets they are fed (Bell et al., 2003). Fish, like mammals, have a limited ability to deposit EPA and DHA in their tissues even when they are fed diets high in ALA (Tocher et al., 2003). Thus, farmed salmon need to be fed a source of EPA and DHA (e.g., fish oil) to have a fatty acid profile similar to that of wild salmon. Feeding diets that are high in fish oil for a period prior to harvest elevates levels of EPA and DHA in farmed salmon previously fed vegetable oils during part of their growing period (Bell et al., 2003).

TABLE 2-8 Mean Levels of EPA and DHA in the Top 10 Seafood Types Consumed in the United States

Seafood (type)a

# Data Points

Standard Error

EPA Content (g/100 g)

DHA Content (g/100 g)

Total n-3 Content (g/100 g)

Shrimp

11

N/Ab

0.17

0.14

0.31

Light tuna

5

N/A

0.05

0.22

0.27

Salmon

2

N/A

0.69

1.46

2.15

Pollock

0c

N/A

0.09

0.45

0.54

Catfish

3

N/A

0.05

0.13

0.18

Tilapia

2

N/A

0.00

0.11

0.11

Crab

12 (EPA)

10 (DHA)

0.021 (EPA)

0.008 (DHA)

0.30

0.12

0.42

Cod

0c

N/A

0.00

0.15

0.15

Clams

0c

N/A

0.14

0.15

0.29

Flatfish

11

32.5 (EPA)

22.3 (DHA)

0.24

0.26

0.50

aShrimp = Mixed, cooked, moist heat; Light tuna = light, canned in water, drained; Salmon = Atlantic, farmed, cooked; Pollock = Atlantic, cooked, dry heat; Catfish = Channel, farmed, cooked, dry heat; Tilapia = Cooked, dry heat; Crab = Alaska king, cooked, moist heat; Cod = Atlantic, cooked, dry heat; Clams = Mixed, cooked, moist heat; Flatfish = Flounder and sole species, cooked, dry heat.

bN/A means that the values are not available.

cAs reported in USDA Nutrient Database Release 18 (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR18/sr18.html). Zeroes indicate that value was not derived analytically but was either calculated by difference or imputed from the value for some other similar food(s).

SOURCES: National Fisheries Institute (http://www.aboutseafood.com/media/top_10.cfm) and USDA Nutrient Database Release 18 (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR18/sr18.html).



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