What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning that they cannot be made within the body and can only be obtained from the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a variety of integral roles throughout the body. They are a component of cell membranes and ensure proper cellular function within these membranes. Omega-3s bind to cell receptors that regulate genetic functions, and they are frequently a precursor to common hormones involved in blood clotting, artery wall functions, inflammation, and immune response.12
There are three main Omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is the most common omega-3 found in Western diets and mainly comes from nuts, vegetable oils, flax seeds, and some animal fats. DHA and EPA come mostly from fish and other seafood. ALA is mainly used for energy, though it can be converted into DHA and EPA in limited amounts.12
Omega-3 Benefits and Recommended Omega-3 Daily Intake
There are no established guidelines on how much Omega 3 you should take daily. However, the recommended dose among health organizations is a minimum of 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults. For individuals with health conditions, higher amounts are frequently recommended.1-2
Heart Adults: While there are no established guidelines for a daily recommended dose, you should try to get at least 250-500 mg of Omega-3 per day to maintain your heart health and support general bodily functions.
Heart Diseases: Many research studies of Omega-3 fatty acids have focused on their benefits on cardiovascular health. These studies have found that a diet rich in Omega-3s can help to lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and lower triglycerides, all of which can help to maintain a steady heartbeat.13
The American Heart Association recommends that patients with coronary heart disease take at least 1,000 mg of omega-3 every day. Furthermore, patients with high triglycerides should take 200-4,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.3
Arthritis: A 2017 meta-review found that fish oil, taken in daily doses ranging from 0.2 to nearly 5 grams of EPA and 0.2 to 2.1 grams of DHA, significantly reduced joint pain, stiffness and swelling, and reduced or eliminated patients’ use of NSAID drugs.14
The same review study found that in 3 out of 4 studies, fish oil supplementation benefitted those with osteoarthritis in at least 1 parameter.
Psoriasis: One study found that between 3.6 and 14.0 grams of EPA taken every day for a period of six weeks to six months resulted in clinical improvements in patients with psoriasis with minimal side effects.15
However, lower doses of fish oil may have less significant outcomes. One study found that daily supplementation with 3.2 grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA for six to eight weeks resulted in no clinical improvements in patients with plaque psoriasis.16
Depression and Anxiety: Some research shows that high doses of Omega-3 (around 200-2,000 mg per day) may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.4-6
Cancer: Regular consumption of fish and Omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with decreased risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers.7-8
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: Studies have shown that Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are essential during and after pregnancy. Pregnant women are recommended to take an additional 200 mg of DHA in addition to the two servings of fish per week that are recommended.9-10
This is equivalent to 1,950-3,700 mg DHA and EPA per week which equates to 280-530 mg of DHA and EPA per day.
Children Ages 2-10: The recommended dose for infants and children is 50 mg EPA and 100 mg DHA per day.11
Children Ages 11-18: The recommended dose for children between ages 11-18 is 100 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per day.11
Further reading: a list of the benefits of fish oil
How to Choose the Best Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement
- If you are vegetarian, omega 3 can be sourced from algae instead of fish oil.
- Look for omega-3 oil high in DHA and EPA.
- If you are pregnant, look for a source wit DHA, EPA and/or ALA.
- Look for the appropriate amount based on the recommended dosages from above.
- Ensure that the fish oil you utilize is purified and molecularly distilled.
Omega-3 fatty acids are thankfully readily available in food. However, if you do not think you are getting enough Omega-3 or if want to increase your intake of fish oil, we recommend taking a purified and concentrated Omega-3 supplement. DrFormulas® Triple Strength Fish Oil supplement is concentrated and purified so it can be consumed worry free and with fewer pills.
Too Much Omega 3 Side Effects
Can you have too much omega 3? You can have too much omega 3 in certain situations:
- Bleeding disorders - People with bleeding disorders should stop taking omega 3 supplements 1-2 weeks before a surgery.
- Cod Liver Oil Overdose - While cod liver oil is high in omega-3, it is also high in vitamin A. Constantly taking high doses of cod liver oil can lead to vitamin A toxicity.
Best Sources of Omega 3
The best sources of omega-3 fish oil are summarized below:
Vegan Omega 3 Sources
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Canola Oil
- Navy Beans
- Brussels Sprouts