Dietary intake of omega-3 in the United States is marginal at best. With over 90 percent of the U.S. population reported to be ‘deficient’ in omega-3 and this deficiency now recognized as a leading cause of death in the U.S., the need for increased omega-3 intake has never been more critical.
One of the most frequent questions health professionals get asked is, “How much omega-3 does one need to take?” This is an incredibly pertinent question for which no single answer exists. The complexity of ‘how much’ can be affected by many factors such as existing omega-6 intake — a known competitor of omega-3 — body size, physical activity level, and whether or not you are consuming omega-3 for normal health or trying to support a health condition.
While there are no federal recommendations for long chain omega-3 intake, a general recommendation by nutritional scientists exists that states people should consume around 600 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day. The American Heart Association recommends 1,000 milligrams per day for people at risk for cardiovascular disease and 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams per day to reduce triglycerides.
Testing for omega-3 in blood has also opened a window into the body to help define “how much” we should be consuming. One of America’s most influential biochemists, Dr. Bill Lands, has devoted years to defining ‘how much.’ Dr. Lands has studied blood levels of omega-3 for people all over the world and reported that as blood levels of omega-3 increase, death rates for heart disease go down.
People of Japan have about a two-fold increase in their blood levels of omega-3 and about a 50 percent reduction in death from heart related diseases when compared to Americans. Based on Dr. Lands’ research and metabolic equations, if American’s wish to achieve the same blood levels as the Japanese then Americans need to consume 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day.
Blood levels of omega-3 reflect how much of it has been consumed. Higher omega-3 levels in the blood correlate with reduced risk of having and dying from a heart attack, having depression, suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s’ disease and developing diabetes.
So to get healthy omega-3 levels, the task for many is to dramatically increase their intake of it either from food or supplements. The end result is balancing your omega-6 and omega-3 in your membranes for better heath. If you want to tackle the food approach, a normal serving of salmon will give you about 1,500 milligrams of EPA and DHA, and a can of sardines will give you about 1,200 milligrams. If you are striving for 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day you are pretty much consuming a marine-based diet every day. If daily fish does not fit into your lifestyle, dietary supplements are a great option.
So what are your options? Most fish oils contain about 30 percent of their oil weight as EPA and DHA. Technology exists today to increase omega-3 levels in oils.
Higher omega-3 levels result in better physical performance, healthier blood lipids and improved mood. So the more one consumes, the better each individual will look, perform and feel.
By Doug Bibus, PhD. For more information, visit coromega.com.