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You know you need omega-3s. But how much should you be taking?

by Barlean's on August 08, 2017

How much Omega-3s should you be taking?.jpeg

It could be argued that omega-3s are  at least as important to your health and well-being as vitamins and minerals — especially when it comes to supporting the health of your heart.* You know you need them. The question is: How much do you need? 

 

Until now, there’s been no simple answer. The United States is one of the few countries that has not issued official recommendations for omega-3 intake. And opinions issued by expert scientific organizations and worldwide governmental agencies vary widely.  

 

The European Food Safety Authority, for example, recommends that adults consume 250 mg of EPA/DHA daily. The French government advises double that amount. And Russian authorities advocate a much higher intake: 1,300 mg. Who’s right? 

 

The matter is far from settled; however, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), a non-profit trade organization, recently reviewed the wide body of evidence on the subject and came up with some solid recommendations: 

 

Dosage 

Population Group 

500 mg per day 

The general healthy adult population, to support cardiovascular health 

700-1,000 mg per day 

Pregnant and nursing women (200 mg of additional DHA over the recommendation for healthy adults) 

More than 1,000 mg 

People looking to support a broader spectrum of  health and well-being)* 

 

Source: GOED (April 25, 2016). GOED publishes omega-3 dosage recommendations. [Press release].  

 

You can get 500 mg of EPA/DHA per day by eating about 16 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, or by taking two fish oil capsules or ½ tsp of fish oil liquid.  

 

If you are a vegetarian, your best bet is flax seed oil, which contains ALA — the mother compound of EPA and DHA. Research suggests that on average, between 8.5 and 29 percent of ALA can be converted into EPA/DHA.i However, that percentage appears to be greater for vegetarians and vegans.ii Since 1 tbsp of flax oil provides 7,640 mg of ALA, even at the low end of the conversion spectrum, vegetarians would still get more than the recommended 500 mg of EPA/DHA daily (649 mg, to be exact). 

 

* FDA disclaimer 

 

References 

[1] Stark AH, Crawford MA, Reifen R. Nutr Rev. 2008 Jun;66(6):326-332.

[2] Welch AA, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;95(5):1040-1051

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