The heart is the organ of life, it is a precious partner to allow blood circulation in the tissues. Nutrients and oxygen are also transported through the heart with the blood. To ensure the smooth functioning of this entire system, a good supply of omega 3 is essential.
This element is essential for humans as it is not produced by our body. It is easy to find supplements containing omega 3, and it occurs elsewhere in nature, particularly in oily fish (especially salmon) and certain plants (nuts, wheat, flaxseed). In this article you will learn, among other things, what the recommended daily amount of omega3 is, in which foods it is found and what the benefits of this element are.
the essentials in brief
- According to one study, the recommended daily intake of omega 3 is between 1.1 and 1.6 grams (indicators for alpha-linolenic acid) (1). The amount depends mainly on age and the presence of cardiovascular diseases.
- Salmon contains more Omega 3 than other foods when it comes to EPA and DHE levels. As for ALA, flaxseed oil contains the most of it.
- Consuming too much omega 3 is not useful for the human body and can even harm it. Make sure you stay under the daily limit of 3g unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
Omega 3 daily requirements: What you should know
To better understand this article, we will distinguish three types of saturated fatty acids that provide Omega3: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
- ALA, or short-chain omega3, is the base product found primarily in plants such as flax, hemp, and chia, and oils made from these products.
- EPA and DHA, also long-chain omega3, are only found in certain seaweed and fish that can accumulate this molecule.
For example, when you eat nuts, enzymes convert ADA into EPA and DHA. The conversion rate can vary by gender: 21% EPA, 9% DHA for women and 8% EPA, 0-4% DHA for men (1).
There are two types of foods that provide omega3: oily fish and certain seeds (and the oils made from them).
Ultimately, it is the molecules EPA and DHA that are essential for health. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancer and certain brain problems such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
What is Omega 3?
Omega-3 fatty acids , also known as n-3, are fatty acids found in large amounts in some oily fish, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, canola, and soy.
For vegetarians and vegans, hazelnuts, as well as flaxseed and chia seeds are good sources of Omega 3. (Image source: Mockup Graphics / Unsplash)
Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids because the body absolutely needs them and cannot produce them on its own; it is therefore dependent on ingesting them with food or dietary supplements.
Where is the most omega-3 in?
As already mentioned, omega 3 is found in nature mainly in oily fish and some plants. You can use this table to compare the omega3 content of these different foods.
|Groceries||ALA content in grams per 100g||Groceries||EPA/DHE content in grams per 100g|
What is omega 3 good for?
There are many articles out there about the benefits of Omega3 and they can sometimes be difficult to understand. So here are some of the benefits that regular consumption of omega3 can bring to your life, simply put. .
Some studies show that consuming a high-fat fish meal once a week (or the equivalent of 5.5g of omega3 per month) reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 50% (2). However, other studies have shown that the risk of cardiovascular disease (which can go as far as heart attack) was not related to people's omega-3 intake (3).
In short, the studies on this subject are unfortunately not unanimous enough to be able to give an accurate opinion on the subject.
According to one study, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, which has a positive effect on obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (4). This is because omega3 supplementation lowers fasting plasma glucose, plasma lipids, metalloproteinases, and parameters of inflammation.
Several studies show that a good intake of omega-3 reduces the chance of developing cancer over the course of a lifetime. Additionally, it appears to improve the efficacy and tolerability of chemotherapy treatments (1).
Nevertheless, it is possible to find a study that says the opposite, and then it is necessary to pay attention to the details of the patients studied. Factors that may influence the results are: the type of molecule studied (ALA, EPA, DHE), the ratio between omega 3 and 6 and independent genetic factors.
According to a study, the EPA molecule, which is mainly found in marine omega 3 (oily fish + seaweed), appears to have a positive effect on the depressive symptoms of study participants. (5).
These positive effects are due to several factors, including omega-3's ability to increase the rate of serotonin circulation and increase the concentration of dopamine in the brain (1).
How much omega 3 for whom/what purpose?
The daily intake of omega 3 for humans varies between 1.1 and 1.6 grams when it comes directly from a plant source (ie consists of ALA). This rate varies little by age. Rather, it is the absorption of EPA and DHE molecules that evolves based on the person's activity level and age. We have shown this in simplified form in the following table.
|group of people||Omega 3 daily requirement|
|children and young people||0.25g|
|Adult||0.25 - 0.3g|
|Pregnant and lactating women||0.45g|
|competitive athlete||1 - 2g|
What time of day to take omega-3?
There is no ideal time to take omega-3 fatty acids. Some people prefer to take it with meals, which can lead to better absorption. Nevertheless, there are too few studies on this topic to be able to give a clear answer to this question.
A serving of salmon (100g) contains approximately 2.5 grams of Omega 3, making it the most fatty fish. (Image Source: Caroline Attwood / Unsplash)
We therefore recommend consuming Omega 3 preferably with meals, as this seems to be the consensus.
Can Omega-3 be overdosed?
Omega-3 fatty acids are certainly important for the proper functioning of the human body, but can you take in too much? "Good" fat is still fat, and overdoing it is obviously not a good thing.
The excess of omega3 is not only useless for health, but also harms it. In fact, excessive consumption of ALA, EPA, or DHE can cause your cholesterol levels to rise (6).
The takeaway from this article is that everyone should watch their omega-3 intake because it is an essential element for the human body. In fact, a proper daily intake can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or even lessen the effects of depression. However, you should not consume too many omega-3-rich foods (oily fish, vegetable oils) as this can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels.
Because every body can function differently, down to the smallest detail, if you are unsure of what omega-3 intake you need, do not hesitate to consult a health professional.
- Shahidi F, Ambigaipalan P. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Their Health Benefits. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 25;9:345-381. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-111317-095850. PMID: 29350557. Source
- Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ; American Heart Association. Nutrition Committee. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. circulation 2002 Nov19;106(21):2747-57. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.0000038493.65177.94. Errata in: Circulation. 2003 Jan 28;107(3):512. PMID: 12438303. Source
- Rogers TS, Seehusen DA. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. Am Fam Physician. 2018 May 1;97(9):562-564. PMID: 29763262. Source
- Tortosa-Caparrós E, Navas-Carrillo D, Marín F, Orenes-Piñero E. Anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 2;57(16):3421-3429. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1126549. PMID: 26745681. Source
- Julian G Martins (2009) EPA but Not DHA Appears To Be Responsible for the Efficacy of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation in Depression: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 28 :5, 525-542, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2009.10719785 Source
- nu3.de: Omega-3 daily requirement & dosage, Leona Grenzow, October 25, 2019 Source