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How Many Grams of Omega-3 Are Needed Per Day?

by Seraphina Therapeutics
Highlights

For years we’ve been concerned with getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved heart health and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.  However, omega-3 wasn’t always the unsung hero of heart health that it is today. 

When dietary guidelines for Americans were issued during 1977, avoidance of dietary fats was hailed an important way to stop heart disease, an epidemic that had become the number one cause of death for adults. Around the same time that we were imposing restrictions on fat, however, researchers in Greenland were studying groups of Inuit Eskimos whose diets were extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids and did not have heart disease. This led them to publish a paper suggesting that some fats were not only okay for us, they were good for our health.

Research picked up speed in the mid-1980’s, with numerous papers being published in prestigious medical journals suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids helped improve cardiovascular health.  More and more evidence through the late 80’s and 90’s came pouring in, and thus, omega-3 fatty acids earned their place in our diets and daily supplement regimen. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that you should consume more omega-3s than you need.  In fact, consuming too much omega-3s could be detrimental to your health.  It’s important to know how much omega-3s to consume, and how you should be getting it (i.e. from a supplement or from your food).

How Many Grams of Omega-3 Do I Need Per Day?

You may be surprised to learn that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you need in your diet each day is actually pretty low. 

Age

Male

Female

Birth to 6 months

0.5 g

0.5 g

7 to 12 months

0.5 g

0.5 g

1 to 3 years

0.7 g

0.7 g

4 to 8 years

0.9 g

0.9 g

9 to 13 years

1.2 g

1.0 g

14 to 18 years

1.6 g

1.1 g

19 to 50 years

1.6 g

1.1 g

51+ years

1.6 g

1.1 g

 

Another fun fact?  There are actually three core types of dietary omega-3 fatty acids, and only one of them is considered “essential.” 

The three primary forms of omega-3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA, and DHA.  Your body cannot make ALA on its own, which makes it essential.  The body can convert ALA into EPA, and then DHA through a process that occurs in the liver, but this conversion process is fairly limited, so obtaining EPA and DHA through foods and supplements is typically a good option. 

  • EPA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has been demonstrated to support healthy heart function.
  • DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can support brain health, cognitive function, and heart health.
  • ALA. Mostly used by the body as a source of energy, the body can also use alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and convert it to EPA, which can then be converted into DHA.

How Should I Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

You can get all the omega-3 fatty acids you need simply by eating a balanced diet that includes a daily serving of a food containing this fatty acid. 

The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Chia seeds
  • English walnuts
  • Whole flaxseeds
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Canola oil

These sources all contain between 1 and 7.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving.  As such, it can be extremely easy to get your daily recommended allowance of omega-3s simply by adding a serving of these foods to your plate. There are additional sources of omega-3 fatty acids like canned fish, soybean oil, mayonnaise, black walnuts, trout and herring, beans, eggs, and even whole milk, although these sources contain much less of omega-3 overall.

Not convinced you’re going to get enough omega-3 from your dietary choices?  You can always opt for a fish oil supplement. 

Fish oil supplements contain your daily dosage of omega-3 fatty acids, however, it comes with a pretty unpleasant fishy aftertaste.  Even “burpless” formulas still leave users with a bad fish taste, and sometimes unpleasant gastrointestinal issues like indigestion. 

What Happens If I Get Too Much Omega-3?

Getting too much omega-3 in your diet would probably be pretty difficult, but if you’re taking a fish oil supplement, you could potentially get too much omega-3. Side effects are usually related to gastrointestinal distress like bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. 

However, there could be some long-term side effects, including:

  • Increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Omega-3s stimulate the production of glucose, so patients with type 2 diabetes could be at risk of an unhealthy increase in blood sugar levels if supplementing with fish oil. Further, some studies have shown that DHA can increase your LDL-cholesterol levels.
  • Bleeding. Taking too much fish oil could cause you to have nosebleeds and bleeding gums.
  • Low blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, this is good news, but individuals who already have low blood pressure may not want to take a fish oil supplement. Speak to your healthcare professional about whether fish oil is a good fit for you.

Are There Other Fatty Acids That Can Provide Health Benefits Like Omega-3s?

The essentiality of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, was first discovered 90 years ago by a husband and wife scientist team, George and Mildred Burr.

Incidentally, C15:0 (also called pentadecanoic acid), a trace fatty acid present in butter and whole fat milk, has increasing scientific support that it is an essential fatty acid and was also discovered by a husband and wife team

C15:0 may seem surprising as a healthy nutrient because it is a trace saturated fat.  For decades, we’ve considered dietary fats as unhealthy (especially saturated fats), so to consider a saturated fat as “healthy” seems controversial to say the least. 

As it turns out, not all saturated fats are bad -- it depends on the type of saturated fat you consume.  C15:0, for instance, is an odd-chain saturated fat. 

Having this odd-chain saturated fat in your diet has been linked to positive health markers like:*

  • Balanced immunity
  • Red blood cell health
  • Healthy metabolism
  • Liver health

C15:0 supports healthy cellular function -- it integrates into your cells to help give your body the support it needs on its most basic level.*  Unlike even-chain saturated fats (like C16:0), which are associated with increased inflammation, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, C15:0 can help protect and fortify your cells, supporting them so they have a fighting chance, especially with the stressors of aging.*   

If you want to get enough C15:0 in your diet, you might find it a bit difficult.  C15:0 is found in whole dairy products like whole fat milk, butter, and cheese, as well as some fish and plants.  The problem with attempting to get C15:0 in a whole fat dairy product, however, is that you’d also be consuming much higher levels of even-chain saturated fatty acids. 

Fatty15 is the first and only pure, powder supplement that has a full day’s serving of C15:0, and nothing else.  No even-chain saturated fats, no fillers, and no animal or dairy byproducts -- just pure FA15™ (the pure powder form of C15:0).  Fatty15 is the only way to get C15:0 in its purest form. 

Compared to 3 to 4 grams of oily omega-3 fatty acid supplements, people only need to take one, small (aka easy to swallow) 100 milligram fatty15 pure powder-filled capsule per day.

We all want to live as long as possible and age as healthfully as possible.  To do so, we take care of ourselves by eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise, and we are selective about the supplements we take, such as doing our best to incorporate essential fatty acids like omega-3s. 

Adding fatty15 to your health stack is a great way to ensure you get the essential C15:0 fatty acid you need to take care of your body at a cellular level, enabling you to stay healthier longer and  age on your own terms.*

 

 

 

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/78322/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3990713/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3990714/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/#h2

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2707115/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002234760581666X

 

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