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Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits.

The best way to get them is by eating fatty fish at least twice a week.

If you don’t eat fatty fish very often, you should consider taking a supplement.

Photo credit: Shutterstock
It’s important to make sure your supplement contains enough EPA and DHA. Photo credit: Shutterstock

However, it’s important to make sure your supplement contains enough EPA and DHA.

EPA and DHA are the most useful types of omega-3s and are found in fatty fish and algae.

This article reviews how much omega-3 (combined EPA and DHA) you need for optimal health.

Official Omega-3 Dosage Guidelines

There is no set standard for how much omega-3 you should get each day.

Various mainstream health organizations have released their own expert opinions, but they vary considerably.

Overall, most of these organizations recommend a minimum of 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults (1, 2, 3, 4).

However, higher amounts are often recommended for certain health conditions.

Bottom Line: To date, there is no official recommended daily allowance of omega-3s. However, most health organizations agree that 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA is enough for adults to maintain overall health.

Omega-3 for Specific Health Conditions

The following health conditions have been shown to respond to omega-3 supplements.

Here’s a quick rundown of the dosages used:

Heart Health

One trial followed 11,000 participants who took an 850-mg dose of combined EPA and DHA every day for 3.5 years. This caused a 25 percent reduction in heart attacks and a 45 percent reduction in sudden death (5).

Numerous organizations, including the AHA, recommend that patients with coronary heart disease take 1,000 mg. They recommend that patients with high triglycerides take 2,000–4,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA each day (6, 7, 8, 9).

However, several large review studies have not found any beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids on heart disease (10, 11).

Depression and Anxiety

Studies have shown that high doses of omega-3, from 200-2,200 mg per day, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (12, 13, 14, 15).

In the case of mood and mental disorders, a supplement with higher amounts of EPA than DHA may be optimal.

Cancer

High consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers (16, 17, 18, 19).

However, an optimal dosage to reduce the risk of cancer has not been established.

Others

Omega-3 fatty acids can help with numerous other health problems. The effective dosages depend on numerous factors.

Bottom Line: Omega-3 fatty acids can help with numerous health conditions. The dosages shown to be effective range from 200-4,000 mg.

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