These advertisements usually feature the benefits of this fatty acid but do not really offer one of the basic information to consumers – how much Omega 3 should a person take in a day? The answer to this question is very important since it is a fact that anything taken excessively could pose danger to a person’s health.
Omega 3: The Basics
Before Omega 3 dosage is delved into, it is critical that the basic information about Omega 3 is known. There are two types of essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6. They are termed essential because, basically, the body needs them in order to achieve optimum health so they are also called the “good fats”. While Omega 6 is derived from plant and animal oils, Omega 3 is mostly found in oil-rich fish.
Omega 3 comes in three forms which are ALA or Alpha Linolenic Acid, DLA or Docosahexaenoic Acid and EPA or Eicosapentaenoic Acid. ALA, the parent fatty acid, can be converted to EPA or DLA which are actually long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids or, in short, LC omega 3 PUFAs. EPA or DLA are the more potent forms of these essential fatty acids.
To some extent, the body can convert ALA to EPA or DLA but the process could take long and is not enough to sustain the needs of the body. Thus, it is not enough that people eat plant sources of Omega 3 as these only have the essential fatty acid in ALA form. As such, eating fish like trout, sardines, mackerel, salmon and herring which are rich in Omega 3 in EPA or DLA form is advisable. It does not matter whether these fishes are eaten fresh, tinned or frozen because they still contain fish oils in any of these conditions. Fresh or frozen tuna, on the other hand, can be counted on more than the canned ones because most of the oils are lost in the process of canning.
The Good Thing about Omega 3
Omega 3 is good for all people in whatever age group. In a study conducted on pregnant women numbering to 9,000, it was found out that those who eat fish once a week while in their first trimester has a 27% lesser risk of premature birth and low birth weight than those who did not eat fish at all. This goes to show that a child benefits from the intake of Omega 3 by his mother even while in her womb.
The importance of Omega 3 is even made apparent by the fact that it is one of the nutrients found in infant milk. Even at this early stage, it is already being emphasized that there is a need to take in Omega 3 because it helps in proper brain and eye development which begins at this stage. As such, it can also be especially helpful for babies who are born prematurely.
Omega 3 has even been found helpful to children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD as it is shown to manage symptoms related to this disorder.
When a person grows older, he will be eventually faced with some of the downsides of aging like high blood pressure or rheumatoid arthritis and begin facing the risk of heart strokes or even Alzheimer’s disease. By making sure that he takes a regular dose of Omega 3 needed not only for normal growth and development but also in the maintenance of cardiovascular health and brain function, his body is sure to be equipped to fight off these conditions.
Omega 3 is also helpful in preventing other health conditions like inflammatory skin diseases, inflammatory bowel disorders and even depression. Thus, this good fatty acid offers a long range of health benefits, thus, it is rightfully tagged as one of the essential fatty acids.
Omega 3: How Much is Safe?
As earlier noted, anything taken excessively could give you side effects and this applies to the intake of Omega 3. Basically, the recommended intake of Omega 3 in its three forms – ALA, DHA and EPA varies depending on your age or health condition. Pregnant and nursing women should take 300 mg of DHA per day. Children and healthy adults, on the other hand, should take 250 mg of DHA per day. This was affirmed by the National Institute of Health and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids (NIH/ISSFAL). Usually, Omega 3 supplements combine DHA and EPA. So the ideal ratio of DHA to EPA in these supplements should be 2:1. People who are not suffering from any health conditions should make sure that the supplement should have at least 250 mg of DHA.
According to the American Heart Association, patients who have coronary heart disease should have a daily dose of 1 gram of DHA and EPA. Those patients, who are advised to lower their triglycerides, should take Omega 3 in 2-4 grams daily. People who no coronary heart disease or have normal health condition are advised to include a variety of fatty fish in their diet at least twice a week and top it with foods that are rich in ALA like flaxseed and walnuts.
Although getting your daily Omega 3 dosage from fish is advised, there are times when some people just do not have the luxury of time to buy fresh fish from the market or canned ones from the grocery. Thus, some people turn to supplements to get their daily supply of Omega 3. In this case, the quality of the supplement should be taken into consideration.