n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acid requirements of term infants

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The benchmarks for human nutrient requirements are the recommended dietary intakes (RDIs). However, the RDIs are set to prevent a clinical deficiency state in an otherwise healthy population and there are few nutrient recommendations set with the goal of achieving an optimal or maximal state of nutrition and health. This is becoming an increasing challenge with the introduction of many nutraceuticals and functional foods, a prime example being the debate surrounding the introduction of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) into infant formulas. Most expert nutrition committees have used the fatty acid composition of breast milk as a basis for recommendations for infant formulas, with little information on the minimum absolute requirement for essential PUFAs. It has been difficult to determine a minimum requirement for fatty acids because 1) LCPUFAs can be synthesized from precursor fatty acids, 2) plasma n-3 LCPUFA concentrations representing deficiency and sufficiency are not clearly defined, and 3) there are no recognized clinical tests for n-3 LCPUFA deficiency and sufficiency. Therefore, there is a clear need to associate a measure of LCPUFA status with a specific functional outcome before any recommendations can be made for achieving optimal or maximal LCPUFA status.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast milk
  • DHA
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Human milk
  • Infant formula
  • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Neural development
  • Neurologic development
  • Term infants
  • n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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