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How Many mg of Omega 3 Are Needed Per Day?

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary component of our diets, and the amount that you need per day can vary based on gender and age. 
  • While you can usually get the omega-3 you need from the foods you eat, it is possible to have too much omega-3, which can lead to serious side effects.
  • Other fatty acids, like C15:0, which you can get through fatty15, also have many benefits like supporting cellular function, and are much harder to get through food.

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, and new studies about the efficacy of omega-3 in preventing heart disease have had differing results. We’ll cover those, as well as a surprising new fatty acid that is challenging the benefits of omega-3 with its own cardiometabolic benefits.

How Fat Became “Bad”

When dietary guidelines for Americans were issued in 1977, avoidance of dietary fats was hailed as 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 but good for our health.

Research picked up speed in the mid-1980s, with numerous papers being published in prestigious medical journals suggesting that omega-3 fatty acidshelped 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 regimens. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that you should consume more omega-3s than you need. In fact, consuming too much omega-3 could be detrimental to your health. Additionally, coronary heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans, even though the popularity of omega-3 supplements has skyrocketed. Following, we’ll attempt to understand why our fight against fat failed.

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. 




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 dietaryomega-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 and cognitive function.
  • 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.

Most omega-3 supplements found on the market today contain a combination of EPA and DHA, and according to established research, that presents a problem for our heart health. 

Two Conflicting Studies

Recently, two studies have looked directly at whether or not omega-3 can truly reduce the risk of cardiovascular health problems. The first study, known as the REDUCE-IT trial, found that supplementation of omega-3 did reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and supported lower triglyceride levels. 

The second study, the STRENGTH trial, also studied the effects of omega-3 supplementation on heart disease. That trial was terminated because there was found to be no difference in risk between the control group and the omega-3 group. 

A pillar difference in the studies is that the REDUCE-IT study gave participants higher amounts of pure EPA explicitly without DHA. The STRENGTH trial gave participants a type of omega-3 supplement that contained both EPA and DHA, suggesting that DHA may have a negative impact on the health benefits of EPA. 

It should also be noted that most Americans get the daily recommended amount of omega-3 they need from their dietary sources. 

How Should I Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

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

The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids are:

Plant oils like:

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Soybean oil

Nuts and seeds like:

  • Chia seeds
  • English walnuts
  • Whole flaxseeds

Oily fish like:

  • Atlantic salmon
  • Canola oil
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel

These sources of omega-3 fatty acids all contain between 1 and 7.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. As such, most people can get their daily recommended allowance of omega-3s simply by adding a serving of these foods to their diets.

Do I Need a Supplement?

You’re likely getting enough omega-3 from your diet, and omega-3 supplements can have some side effects. Here are the cold, hard, fishy facts you should know about omega-3 fish oil supplements. 

They’re …Fishy

Most fish oil supplements are made with fish oils like cod liver oil and krill oil. These are notorious for leaving you with a fishy aftertaste and giving you fish burps. In addition, fish oils usually contain a number of other fats and vitamins, which may not only negate any beneficial effects but could result in overconsumption of these nutrients. 

They Go Rancid

There’s another unfortunate caveat with omega-3 fish oil supplements. Because omega-3 fish oil supplements are unstable oils, they are prone to oxidation and rancidity. That means it can spoil just like cooking oil that has been in your pantry for too long. 

Independent researchers tested bottles of unsold fish oil supplements and found that more than one in 10 of them were already rancid. If the fish oil is bad in the bottle, it is also bad in your body. 

You probably won’t know the supplements are bad. The only indication is a foul, fishy odor, which is often masked by the flavorings and scent tabs used by many fish oil supplements. 

Preliminary studies have shown that the effects of omega-3 fish oil supplements that are rancid may have a negative impact on our health, including our cholesterol levels. This is concerning since taking a daily dose of omega-3 is intended to help support healthy cholesterol numbers. 

Given this information, it may be best to get your omega-3s from dietary sources rather than fish oil supplements. However, if you’re on a restricted diet (like vegan or vegetarian), you might find it harder without the presence of fatty fish. 

Thankfully, it’s unlikely for most Americans that you’ll have an omega-3 deficiency, even if you are on a restricted diet. That’s mostly due to the fact that the recommended amount of omega-3 fats to maintain our health is low. 

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 More Health Benefits Than Omega-3s?

In fact, there is. 

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), an essential odd-chain, saturated fatty acid found in trace amounts in whole dairy products, was also discovered by a husband and wife team

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 that is essential for maintaining our health. 

Appropriate levels of C15:0 in our bodies have been shown to result in:*†

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

C15:0 does this by improving the health of our cells, the building blocks of our overall health and wellness. Specifically, C15:0:

  • Strengthens our cell membranes. Unlike omega-3, C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes to keep them strong and protect them against breakdown. Studies support that C15:0 can help strengthen cells by 80%. 
  • Activates AMPK. AMPK is an important molecule in our bodies. It helps clear damaged cells and also regulates processes like glucose uptake and immune response. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps restore homeostasis to these functions and ensures damaged cells are cleared. 
  • Regulates inflammatory response. An unhealthy immune response can underlie chronic illness. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers levels of proinflammatory cytokines, molecules that are associated with aging. 
  • Improves mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the batteries inside our cells. When we get older, they begin to slow down. C15:0 repairs mitochondrial function, increasing our cells’ ability to function and decreasing reactive oxygen species by 45%. C15:0 also has a significant impact on ATP production. ATP is the energy molecule your cells need to generate power. In one study, C15:0 increased ATP levels in the cells by 350%.
  • Activates PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. These receptors are involved with processes like immunity, metabolic health, heart and liver function, and even mood and sleep. By activating these receptors, C15:0 helps improve our metabolic health and helps us feel better. 

How Does C15:0 Compare to Omega-3?

When compared with omega-3, C15:0 was found to be better for cellular health than the purest, highest-performing form of omega-3 (EPA). Comparison studies support that C15:0 is:

  • Better. C15:0 has 26 more clinically relevant benefits than omega-3. The benefits include stopping “bad” cells from proliferating, and helping restore and balance immunity. 
  • Broader. C15:0 is able to repair more types of cells than omega-3. These cells include those involved with the immune system, gut, heart, joints, skin, and lungs. 
  • Safer. C15:0 was found to be safer for our cells than omega-3s. While C15:0 was safe for all cell types studied at all doses, omega-3 was found to be toxic to 33% of them at higher doses, including lung and blood vessel cells. 

Science supports that C15:0 has 3 times more cellular benefits than omega-3. 

Getting C15:0 Into Your Diet

C15:0 is found in full-fat dairy products; however, increasing your intake of full-fat milk and butter also increases your intake of other proinflammatory fatty acids and sugars and can lead to ingesting excess calories.

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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There’s good news. Fatty15 is a pure-powder, vegan-friendly supplement that has a full day’s serving of C15:0. No even-chain saturated fats, no additives, no fillers, and no cows -- just pure award-winning FA15™ (the pure powder form of C15:0). Fatty15 offers C15:0 in a pure and bioavailable form. 

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Compared to 3 to 4 grams of oily omega-3 fatty acid supplements, people only need to take one small fatty15 capsule per day to get the health benefits of C15:0. The best part? Zero fishy aftertaste or chance of oxidation in your medicine cabinet. It’s also safe for pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding.

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. In addition to a healthy diet, a balanced exercise program, and avoiding certain lifestyle habits (like smoking), it’s one of the best things you can do to support your overall health and wellness.*†


Omega-3 fatty acids and the heart: New evidence, more questions - Harvard Health







Revealed: many common omega-3 fish oil supplements are ‘rancid’

Effect of omega-3dietary supplements with different oxidation levels in the lipidic profile of women: a randomized controlled trial

Effect of the glyceride of pentadecanoic acid on energy metabolism in hair follicles - ADACHI - 1993 - International Journal of Cosmetic Science - Wiley Online Library

Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE

Cardiovascular Risk Reduction with Icosapent Ethyl for Hypertriglyceridemia | New England Journal of Medicine

Effect of High-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids vs Corn Oil on Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Patients at High Cardiovascular Risk: The STRENGTH Randomized Clinical Trial

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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