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Essential fatty acids

  1. May 30, 2009 #1
    For a program I'm writing (which is supposed to create a balanced meal), I'm using two pieces of information: USDA's dietary reference intakes and a database (also from them) of nutrients each food product contains. There is a problem, though: the nutrients listed by the DRIs don't have a 1 to 1 correspondence with the nutrients in the database. The biggest problem is fatty acids. While the DRI says you need some omega-3 and some omega-6, no saturated or trans, the DB has no entries for Omega 3 or 6, or linoleic acid, or alpha-linoleic acid. It just lists each chemical in each group separately, leaving it to me to figure out what is what. And the way the constituent chemicals are named does not make it easy for someone who doesn't know biochemistry.

    I am confused regarding whether the two linoleic acids can be replaced by the other fats in their groups.

    Below, I list the chemicals available in the database, ordered by the column named "SR_Order" (sort order). You may note the annoying absence of iodine and vitamin B-7 (biotin).

    [Water, Energy, Protein, Adjusted Protein, Total lipid (fat), Ash, Carbohydrate, by difference, Fiber, total dietary, Sugars, total, Sucrose, Glucose (dextrose), Fructose, Lactose, Maltose, Galactose, Starch, Calcium, Ca, Iron, Fe, Magnesium, Mg, Phosphorus, P, Potassium, K, Sodium, Na, Zinc, Zn, Copper, Cu, Manganese, Mn, Selenium, Se, Fluoride, F, Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B-6, Folate, total, Folic acid, Folate, food, Folate, DFE, Choline, total, Betaine, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-12, added, Vitamin A, RAE, Retinol, Carotene, beta, Carotene, alpha, Cryptoxanthin, beta, Vitamin A, IU, Lycopene, Lutein + zeaxanthin, Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), Vitamin E, added, Tocopherol, beta, Tocopherol, gamma, Tocopherol, delta, Vitamin D, Vitamin K (phylloquinone), Fatty acids, total saturated, 4:0, 6:0, 8:0, 10:0, 12:0, 13:0, 14:0, 15:0, 16:0, 17:0, 18:0, 20:0, 22:0, 24:0, Fatty acids, total monounsaturated, 14:1, 15:1, 16:1 undifferentiated, 16:1 c, 16:1 t, 17:1, 18:1 undifferentiated, 18:1 c, 18:1 t, 20:1, 22:1 undifferentiated, 22:1 c, 22:1 t, 24:1 c, Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated, 18:2 undifferentiated, 18:2 n-6 c,c, 18:2 CLAs, 18:2 t,t, 18:2 i, 18:2 t not further defined, 18:3 undifferentiated, 18:3 n-3 c,c,c, 18:3 n-6 c,c,c, 18:3i, 18:4, 20:2 n-6 c,c, 20:3 undifferentiated, 20:3 n-3, 20:3 n-6, 20:4 undifferentiated, 20:4 n-6, 20:5 n-3, 21:5, 22:4, 22:5 n-3, 22:6 n-3, Fatty acids, total trans, Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic, Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic, Cholesterol, Phytosterols, Stigmasterol, Campesterol, Beta-sitosterol, Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cystine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Alanine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Hydroxyproline, Alcohol, ethyl, Caffeine, Theobromine]
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2009 #2


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    There seem to be a lot of fatty acids listed. :confused:
    But you've hit on one of the problems that consumers encounter when trying to create a sensible diet...the nutrient information on most products is insufficient to do it. Most labels have a handful of vitamins, and then some things like total fats, total protein, and a few of the bad things. But, just using protein as an example, it's not enough to get some number of grams of protein a day, it needs to be complete protein. If you're missing an essential amino acid, no matter how much protein you eat in a day, you're still going to be malnourished. There's no easy way for a consumer to get ahold of this information.
  4. May 31, 2009 #3
    That's the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference is all about.
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