Omega-3 Dosage: How much EPA and DHA should I take?
- Unlike most vitamins and nutrients, a set standard or general consensus about how much omega-3s a person should consume every day has not been established
- A number of factors contribute to an individual’s omega-3 status, making it difficult to estimate the amount of EPA+DHA needed for optimal cellular health
- Omega-3 blood testing is the most efficient way to measure your omega-3 blood levels and determine your personal dietary requirements
- Research has historically tended to use smaller doses of EPA and DHA, despite evidence that higher doses are safe, well-tolerated, and better able to increase omega-3 levels
Omega-3 requirements vary from person to person
Despite decades of research illustrating the impressive benefits of EPA and DHA for heart, brain, immune, and cellular health, official recommendations for the amount of omega-3s a person should consume every day have yet to be established.1,2 Several health organizations have provided their own dosing recommendations, which typically suggest that adults consume a minimum of 500 mg of EPA and DHA each day.3,4 However, because these generalized recommendations do not account for variables affecting omega-3 metabolism (e.g., age, genetics, diet, exposure to toxins, etc.), it is unlikely that a dose this small can provide sufficient support for all individuals.5–7
Omega-3 blood testing: Important numbers to know
The fastest and most efficient way to determine your omega-3 requirements is by taking a blood test to evaluate your omega-3 index and working with a health professional to determine a dosing regimen that best suits your needs. Those interested in optimizing their health can work directly with their primary care physician to obtain testing services, establish a supplementation regimen, and retest their omega-3 blood levels after 3-6 months to gauge how their omega-3 levels are reacting to supplementation.
Omega-3 intake recommendations
All individuals, regardless of age or health status, are encouraged to undergo blood testing and work with a physician who can make personalized recommendations based on their unique dietary needs. However, in the absence of testing, the nutrition and scientific experts at Nordic Naturals have provided daily recommendations based on life stage and general health status.
- Healthy Infants and Toddlers (ages 0-4): 500 to 800 mg EPA+DHA per day
- Healthy Children (ages 4 -12): 2000 mg EPA+DHA per day
- Healthy Adolescents (ages 13-18): 2000-3000 mg EPA+DHA per day
- Healthy Adults (ages 18+): 3000-4000 mg EPA+DHA per day
These recommendations are informed by: 1) extensive review of the omega-3 and human physiology literatures, 2) consideration of the many factors impeding omega-3 synthesis and absorption, 3) clinical evidence demonstrating that higher doses of omega-3s result in higher omega-3 levels,5,8 and 4) research indicating that doses as large as 5g/day are safe for daily consumption by adults.9
Safety concerns: Is there such a thing as too much omega-3s?
Another frequently asked question concerning omega-3 dosage is the maximum amount of omega-3s a person can safely consume. Based on their assessment of the available research, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contends that supplemental intakes of up to 5000 mg a day are generally well-tolerated and do not increase the risks of adverse health complications, such as prolonged bleeding or cardiovascular disease (CVD).9
3000-4000 mg of EPA and DHA per day is supportive for most healthy adults
In summary, many factors contribute to an individual’s omega-3 status, and the amount of EPA and DHA they require for optimal cellular health. Supplementing with 3000 to 4000 mgs of EPA+DHA daily should provide sufficient support for most healthy adults, and buffer against the competitive effects of factors impeding omega-3 metabolism.