You know you need Omega-3s. But how much should you be taking?
August 3, 2017 at 17:00 by Barlean's
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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 worldwidegovernmental 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 authoritiesadvocate 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:
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.iHowever, 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 mgof EPA/DHA daily (649 mg, to be exact).
* FDA disclaimer
 Stark AH, Crawford MA, Reifen R. Nutr Rev. 2008 Jun;66(6):326-332.
 Welch AA, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;95(5):1040-1051