How Much Omega-3 Should You Consume?

omega 3 fatty acids

We often think that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better. But be cautious: Too high a daily dose of omega-3 can negatively affect your immune system. Not only that, too much intake of omega-3 fatty acids can promote a risk of stroke by thinning the blood excessively. Bleeding time is also prolonged with an intake of omega-3 fatty acids exceeding three grams a day; in fact, studies show that Greenland Eskimos who consume an average 10.5 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids have an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Like with everything else, a sensible balance is needed. Here are some pointers…

If you are taking omega-3 supplements and eating whole foods containing omega-3 on a daily basis, you’re probably overdoing it.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the National Academies, recently revised the recommended daily intake of ALA (plant-derived omega-3) to 1.6 grams for adult men and 1.1 grams for adult women. They didn’t feel it was possible to set an acceptable range for all omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, DHA, EPA). Therefore, they recommended a target amount of EPA or DHA at 160 milligrams a day for men and 110 milligrams a day for women.

Eat healthfully and try to get your omega-3s in through whole foods. If you’re successful in doing that, there’s no need to take omega-3 supplements. Remember though, that plant-based forms of omega-3s, like flax, and walnuts, mostly contain ALA. Only about 10% of that ALA gets converted to EPA and DHA, so a supplement may be beneficial in strict vegans.

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