The benefits of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been made apparent in many studies. Yet in most of the world blood levels of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA) are in the low to very low range. This is because sufficient quantities are not being consumed. However, the recommended EPA and DHA intakes established by various scientific and governmental organizations diverge.
World-renowned institutions such as The American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommend the consumption of at least two servings of fish per week, especially oily fish, rich in omega-3 EPA and DHA. This corresponds to at least 250 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Likewise, most western European countries recommend 250 mg per day. However, it is not clear whether this is enough to protect a large percentage of the population.
To simplify the message to consumers, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED) has, after years of deliberation, developed its own recommendations for omega-3 consumption:
- 500 mg per day for the general healthy population to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- 700 to 1000 mg per day for pregnant or lactating women and for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.
- At least 1 g per day for conditions such as high blood pressure and triglycerides.
Stark KD, Van Elswyk ME, Higgins MR et al. Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Prog Lipid Res. 2016 May 20;63:132-152. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2016.05.001. [Epub ahead of print]