Many children have low levels of omega-3: NIN

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The study found that although the majority of the children (96%) were non-vegetarians, their consumption of marine fish was low

Hyderabad: A study by the city-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) that sought to collect nutritional information on the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in children from Hyderabad concluded that the intake food sources of these essential fatty acids were few among the children of Hyderabad.

The study selected around 625 children between the ages of 7 and 13 from five different schools in Hyderabad. The study found a low intake of omega-3 PUFA in school children. About 80 percent of the children consumed fish, however their frequency of consumption was quite low (only 100 g once a month) and most of them consumed freshwater fish, while less than 4 percent consumed marine fish, which is a rich source of PUFA.

The marine fish, especially in salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in small quantities in meat, poultry and eggs, are rich in PUFA. In vegetarian foods, items such as flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts such as walnuts, and selected vegetable seed oils such as soybeans and mustard are also rich in PUFA.

“The study found that although the majority of the children (96%) were non-vegetarians, their consumption of marine fish was low. The consumption of walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds was also very low, ”said Dr. P. Devraj, the lead author of the study.

“There are hardly any such studies in the Indian context. Based on these results, efforts must be made to increase the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 PUFA such as nuts, oilseeds, fish and seafood to improve children’s cognition, focus and behavior ” said Dr ICMR-NIN, who directed and oversaw the study.

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