Decades of clinical research have provided many reasons to add more fish-derived Omega-3 fatty acids to our diets—from better digestion and elimination to improved heart, joint and immune health—but are Americans consuming enough Omega-3s to reap the benefits? New research says no.
Results of a new study published last month in Nutrition Journal show a significant number of U.S. adults (age 19 and over) are falling short of the daily recommendations for Omega-3 consumption laid out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services—and that consuming more Omega-3s from food sources as well as fish oil supplements may be necessary to help reduce the risk of heart disease* and benefit overall public health.
Using data compiled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for a period of approximately five years, researchers analyzed how much fish U.S. adults were consuming and whether they were significant sources of fish-derived Omega-3s. As it turns out, although older adults and males typically consume more Omega-3s than younger adults and females, most are not meeting the daily recommendations for Omega-3 fatty acid intake—about 250 mg, according to the 2010 DGA (the next edition will be released in 2015).
Because there is extensive evidence that fish-derived Omega-3 EPA and DHA are good for the heart, the American Heart Association recommends consuming the equivalent of about 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA if you are healthy and want to maintain heart health. For those with documented coronary heart disease, they recommend 1 gram (1,000 mg) per day, and those with high triglycerides should aim for 2 to 4 grams (2,000 to 4,000 mg) per day. If oily fish is lacking from your diet, consider a high-concentration, purity-guaranteed fish oil supplement, and be sure to look at the label to see how much EPA and DHA you are getting.
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.