Eating fish has wonderful health benefits, but getting your fish intake can be a bit slippery…if you know what I mean. Experts say eating fish at least twice a week gives the body adequate levels of omega 3 fatty acids. The problem is many people do not like the taste of fish or cannot find fresh fish in land-locked areas, therefore, these individuals often take fish oil supplements. People have been taking cod liver oil for decades, however, there has been no particular dosage and barely anyone was reading nutrition labels…until recently! This new generation of consumers read labels while shopping for quality and safety.
Know What to Buy and What to Avoid
Where can you get your omega 3 fatty acids? Find them in natural foods like fish, oils (sunflower, canola), certain nuts and soy products. Fish that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, cod, halibut, swordfish, herring and mackerel. When people do not eat these foods in their diet, some people purchase a supplement…but which one is really the best when all of the products say “it’s the BEST?”
Although buying omega 3 fatty acid supplements can be tricky, make sure to buy your product from a reputable seller and read the label. What to look for on the label? The supplement must contain both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
How Much Omega 3 Fish Oil Should You Take Daily?
In addition, there is currently no official recommended daily dosage of omega 3s. Almost every medical organization and manufacturer have released what they consider the appropriate dose, but they all differ from one another. Most health organizations agree that 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA is enough for adults to maintain overall health. Although if you have a health issue, the treatment dosage may increase or decrease, ranging from 300 mg to 4,000 mg/day.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Recommendations: Specific Medical Conditions
- A dose of 1,000 mg/day is recommended to maintain a healthy heart.
- Individuals who tend to have elevated triglyceride levels may take 2,000-4,000 mg/day.
- For depression and anxiety, the dose of omega 3 fatty acid varies from 300-2,200 mg/day. The lower dose is for mild symptoms. The dose may have to be titrated slowly every 14 days until a response is seen.
- For cancer, one has to consume very high doses. Even though anecdotal reports claims that there is a reduction in the breast, colon, and prostate cancer after consuming omega 3 fatty acids, no optimal dose has been established.
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is an increased need for omega 3 fatty acids and all current guidelines state that one should add another 200 mg on top of the dose they are taking.
- In children under the age of 12, a dose of 50-100 mg/day is recommended.
- One can safely take omega 3 fatty acids up to 3-5 years if the dose does not exceed 2,000 mg/day.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids vs. Omega 6 Fatty Acids
It is now established that the western diet contains ten times more omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are obtained from vegetable oils. Experts believe in order to maintain optimal health, a ratio more like 2:1 (omega-6:omega-3) should be maintained between the two fatty acids. Both fatty acids compete for the same enzymes in the body, which can limit the effectiveness of omega 3 fatty acids. So if you consume a lot of omega 6 acids, then you need to increase the dose of omega 3 fatty acids.
Side Effects From Taking Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements?
Be aware, too many omega 3s in the diet can be harmful to the body. The FDA claims the use of omega-3s from supplements is safe if doses do not exceed 2,000 mg per day. If taking a higher amount for a health issue, one should not take any doses higher than 4,000 mg/day for extended periods of time. The chief reason is that omega 3 fatty acids can thin blood and increase the risk of bleeding. For this reason, any person who is planning to have elective surgery must stop the supplement for at least two weeks before the procedure. Of course, always consult with your medical professional.
Secondly, one should always read labels when buying an omega 3 fatty acid supplement because some of them can contain high doses of vitamin A, which can be toxic to the body.
CAUTION: Don’t Be “Schooled”
It is important to read the label of your omega-3 supplement to figure out how much EPA and DHA it contains. For example, if the label states that it contains 1,000 mg of fish oil, this is useless. You need to know the exact doses of EPA and DHA.
If you are on prescribed blood thinners, you need to take the lowest possible dose of omega 3 fatty acids. Otherwise, the risk of bleeding is increased.
Because omega 3 fatty acids can alter blood sugars, diabetics should frequently monitor their blood sugar levels to prevent excessive lowering or elevation.
Aim for a minimum of 250 mg and a maximum of 3000 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day, unless instructed otherwise by a health professional. You must always tell your healthcare provider if you plan to change dosages or discontinue any prescription medication.
How much omega 3 should I take daily while pregnant?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should be aware that some fish have been found to contain heavy metals and other contaminants. So always buy your fish from a reputable health food store.
Reader – Do you eat fish twice a week? Share how you get your omega 3 fatty acids in your diet!