Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN
One of the most common questions I get when talking to people about the benefits of omega-3s is how much do I need. My reply is always the same: It depends on who’s asking!
Here is the bottom line: Omega-3s are essential nutrients that everybody needs to consume because our bodies can’t produce them, and consuming any amount is better than none. At the same time, because omega-3s are the most studied nutrients on the planet, there’s lots of useful information that can help us understand what works best. Let’s consider your health goals.
What are your health goals?
- The bare minimum: From the more than 4,000 human research trials on omega-3s, we know with confidence that for general heart health and wellness, everyone needs at least 250 mg of EPA and DHA per day but 500 mg per day is really best.
- Health promotion: 1,000 mg EPA and DHA per day is recommended for adults who know from their family history that their hearts and minds could use nutritional support. It’s also recommended for children and teens who could use help at school or mental and emotional support.
- Optimal nutrition: 2,000 mg EPA and DHA or more is what we need to reach optimal nutrition status, to carry us well over our lifetime. Research shows that this amount per day keeps our hearts and circulation strong, our brains more functional, our moods up, and our joints more flexible. It’s also the amount recommended for endurance athletes.
- Special targeted support: 2,000 to 4,000 mg EPA and DHA, and more in some cases, will serve the needs of performance athletes and people who need targeted nutritional support for their bones and joints, heart, or mental health. 2,000 to 4,000 mg EPA and DHA will help lower triglycerides. Always work with your healthcare professional for your targeted health needs.
If 2,000 mg EPA and DHA sounds like a lot, it’s not; it’s a serving of sardines or salmon. If you were an Eskimo, who traditionally have very healthy hearts, this would just be lunch!
Gretchen Vannice is the Director of Nutrition Education and Research for Wiley Companies. She is a nationally recognized expert, author, and speaker in omega-3 research and education.