What dose of omega-3s is too much?

There hasn’t been established an official maximum safe dosage of omega-3 fatty acids. However, healthy people better limit the daily intake of ALA (plant-based omega-3s) to 2,700 mg, and EPA/DHA (animal-based omega-3s) to 2,000 mg.

Actually, there are 3 main types of omega-3s: ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is naturally present mainly in plant-based foods. Seeds, nuts, avocado, and certain vegetable oils are rich in ALA.

On the other hand, animal-based foods, such as fish, and seafood, are particularly rich in DHA and EPA. Eggs contain decent amounts of omega-3s as well. These types of omega-3s have many health benefits. For instance, they’re important for brain and eye health.

The richest dietary sources of DHA and EPA are dietary supplements made of fish oil.

Algae supplements are also rich in DHA and EPA. Most noteworthy, algae supplements are the only great plant-based sources of DHA and EPA.

You can find a wide variety of omega-3 supplements made of fish oil or algae on iHerb.

How much ALA do we need per day?

In fact, ALA is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is essential. We have to get it from food. ALA can be converted into EPA and then to DHA in the liver. But, this conversion is very limited. Less than 15% of ALA is converted into other forms of omega-3s. Hence, we should get DHA and EPA from food or dietary supplements.

The recommended daily intake of ALA is 1,600 mg for adult men and 1,100 mg for adult women. Teenagers have similar omega-3 needs as adults. Kids require lower dosages. Pregnant and lactating women require 1,400 and 1,300 mg of ALA per day, respectively.[1]

What’s the daily value of DHA & EPA?

As only a small percentage of omage-3s in plant-based foods (ALA) is converted into DHA and EPA, we have to get them from dietary sources. There hasn’t been established an official daily intake for DHA and EPA, though.

However, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy people should consume at least 250 mg of EPA and 250 mg of DHA a day. This dose is the equivalent of eating seafood twice a week.[2]

The American Heart Association also recommends eating 2 servings of fish per week. A serving is 3 ounces of cooked fish.[3]

But, most people don’t consume the recommended daily intake of DHA and EPA. It’s estimated that more than 90% of Americans consume less DHA and EPA than the recommended daily intake from food. Furthermore, only 6.2% of the population take omega-3 supplements.[4]

Health benefits of high doses of DHA & EPA

According to studies, consuming at least 8 ounces of seafood per week may reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death. Especially when the seafood replaces less healthy food!

Moreover, patients with existing coronary heart disease would probably benefit from taking approximately 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.

Furthermore, much higher dosages of DHA and EPA of 4,000 mg per day may lower high triglyceride levels! They can be used alone or with lipid-lowering medications.

Always consult your health care provider before changing your diet or taking dietary supplements!

What’s the maximum safe dosage of omega-3s from plant-based food?

According to the Institute of Medicine, the maximum safe dosage of ALA is 1.2% of the energy intake. Hence, we should consume up to 2,700 mg of ALA (omega-3s in plants) a day per 2,000 calories.

This amount is found in a handful of walnuts, 2 tbsp of walnut oil, or a tsp of flaxseed oil. Canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts, chia, hemp, and flax seeds are the richest plant-based foods in omega-3s.

Can I get too much DHA & EPA from eating fish or seafood?

Actually, there hasn’t been established a maximum safe dosage of DHA and EPA.

However, according to the Institute of Medicine, taking high doses of DHA and/or EPA (900 mg/day of EPA & 600 mg/day DHA or more) for several weeks might be bad for your health. For instance, long-term high dosages of DHA/EPA may reduce the immune function.

Much higher EPA/DHA dosages of 2,000–15,000 mg might also cause bleeding problems!

On the contrary, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the long-term consumption of EPA and DHA supplements at combined doses of up to about 5,000 mg per day appears to be safe.

Also, the FDA recommends consuming up to 5,000 mg of EPA and DHA a day. This maximum dosage of EPA/DHA is considered pretty safe when used as recommended. Healthy people require much lower dosages, though. Hence, the FDA specifies that the labels of dietary supplements shouldn’t recommend a daily intake of EPA and DHA higher than 2,000 mg.

Is an omega-3 dose of 1,000 mg from supplements too much?

Most omega-3 supplements of fish oil or algae have up to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA. So, they’re considered pretty safe. They don’t exceed the maximum safe intake.

You can find a wide variety of omega-3 supplements with DHA and EPA on iHerb.

Side effects of high amounts of omega-3s from supplements

Extremely high doses of omega-3s from supplements for a long time may cause mild side effects,

Commonly reported side effects include unpleasant taste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, headache, bleeding, vomiting, rash, fatigue, or constipation.[5,6]

In addition, omega-3 dietary supplements may interact with medications, such as anticoagulants. Still, most research indicates that omega-3 doses of 3,000 mg a day are safe. In each case, you should consult your physician before taking omega-3 supplements.

Can I get high doses of omega-3s from supplements once a week?

Actually, there is no need to eat fish or take omega-3 supplements daily. According to a study by Deakin University, a large dose of omega-3s once a week is more effective in increasing whole body omega-3 content compared with a smaller dose delivered daily.[7]

Thus, consuming fish or taking high doses of omega-3s from supplements once or twice per week is more than enough to increase the omega-3 status of the body.

Certainly, the regular consumption of plant-based foods high in omega-3s is also important for maintaining normal concentrations of omega-3s.

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