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You Ask, I Answer: How Many Grams of Fish Oils A Day?

andrew-lessman-essential-omega-3-no-fishy-taste-mint-360-capsules~660045Saw this tweet from you the other day: “Ideal Omega 3 supplementation: 3 g total/day; DHA:EPA ratio of 2:3. Don’t bother with supplements that offer ALA.”

My basic approach has been to consume at least 1,000mg (or 1 gram) per day; that seems to be the standard recommendation. I’m wondering if the 3 gram recommendation is meant for the greater population or just those with very high cholesterol or other conditions.

– Guy Betterbid
New York, NY

One gram a day is not bad.  Here is what I base my “3 grams per day” recommendation on:

1) Most Americans consume excessive amounts of omega 6 fatty acids.  Boosting omega 3 intake by a few grams helps even out that ratio a little bit.

2) The average Japanese adult consumes 7.5 grams of DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids a day, and there is no reason to believe this is causing adverse health effects.  (FYI/Reminder: DHA and EPA are commonly known as “fish oils”, although they are also present in sea vegetables). Conversely, the average American takes in 1.5 grams of omega 3 fatty acids a day.  The bulk of that intake is in the ALA form, found in flaxseed, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and some plant oils.  ALA offers its share of health benefits and is certainly necessary, but we also need DHA and EPA.  Unfortunately, ALA to DHA & EPA conversion in most humans does not occur efficiently (especially when omega 6 intake is high, as it interferes with that process).

3) Three grams a day is considered the highest non-therapeutic dosage.  Given the low intake of fish and sea vegetables in this country and the absurd amount of omega 6 consumed on a daily basis, I lean more towards the higher end.

4) I have yet to see any health problems arising from people supplementing three grams a day.  In fact, dietitians whom I’ve worked with in the diabetes outpatients setting recommend three grams to their patients.  The proof is blood lipid levels — you see higher HDL cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride levels in those who supplement three grams, as opposed to one.

FYI: 6 ounces of salmon (the average size of a salmon fillet at a restaurant) provides three grams total of DHA and EPA.  I say this to demonstrate that three grams is not an absurd amount that is impossible to get from food alone.

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3 Comments

  1. Lauren Slayton said on October 29th, 2010

    This is so interesting. I generally suggest 1 gram of fish oil supplemented to clients but also really bump up their fish intake. Do you worry at all about blood thinning properties of omega 3′s especially if people drink copious amounts of green tea? I think 3 grams would work for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of fish.

  2. Andy Bellatti said on April 13th, 2011

    I don’t worry about blood thinning because I do let people know that if they are taking 3 grams of fish oils, they should not be taking supplements like garlic extract, or drinking eight cups of green tea each day. I know many people whose sole fish consumption is farm-raised salmon once or twice a month; I don’t hesitate to recommend 3 grams of Omega 3s for them.

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