How Much Omega-3 You Need for Cardiovascular Health
- For overall health, we need a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s.
- But the typical Western diet is not balanced and contains up to 30 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat.
- Learn how much you should get and the best sources.
Your cells are surrounded by a double layer of fat that determine how they are—how they communicate with each other, the types of molecules they produce and how flexible they are to squeeze through the tiniest blood vessels to deliver their nutrients and eliminate waste. There are two major classes of fats, saturated and unsaturated. But as you’ll see, the most important ones most people aren’t getting enough of are the omega-3 fatty acids.
How do you know which type of fat you’re eating? Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in high amounts in animal products like beef and dairy products. Unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and are found in fish, nuts, seeds and plant oils.
Importantly, not all unsaturated fats are the same. There are two major types—omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in high amounts in plant oils and cold-water fish. In addition to containing saturated fats, beef contains relatively high amounts of omega-6 fatty.1-3
For overall health, we need a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s. Unfortunately, most people eat too much omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s. In fact, the typical Western diet contains up to 30 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat.4,5
How Omega-3s Help Your Heart and More
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively investigated in large-scale epidemiological studies, clinical trials, and meta-analyses. The results show statistically significant benefits for cardiovascular health. Over the past 30 years, a large and growing body of research shows that omega-3 fatty acids support:6,7
- healthy inflammation balance
- healthy heart rhythm
- healthy blood clotting
- healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- healthy blood vessel elasticity, which is important to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are different types of omega-3s, with the most-researched ones for health being:
- Alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Seeds and nuts are good sources of ALA, including flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, walnuts and pine nuts.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is found in high amounts in fatty fish such as mackerel, anchovies, sardines and salmon.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is also in high amounts in fatty fish.
The health effects from these fats come primarily from EPA and DHA. When you consume ALA, you can convert some it to EPA and DHA, but only small amounts. And people’s ability to do so varies tremendously, from as low as 0.2% to 21% for creating EPA and 0.13% to 9% for creating DHA.11,12 For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough EPA and DHA directly from diet and dietary supplements.
There are a couple of ways to determine if you’re getting enough. You can look at the total amount of EPA + DHA and their ratio. Or you can run an omega-3 index test.
To promote healthy triglycerides, a healthy heart rhythm and support artery health, the American Heart Association recommends people with heart disease take a fish oil supplement that provides 1 g/day of EPA + DHA.13 Elsewhere, it’s been recommended that to enhance physical performance, athletes should get 1-2 g/day of combined EPA and DHA at a ratio of 2:1.14
The omega-3 index text gives you a percentage of the amount of EPA+DHA in your blood. In randomized, controlled clinical trials, increasing the omega-3 index promoted cardiovascular health, including supporting healthy blood pressure, healthy heart rate variability and healthy cholesterol and inflammation balance. An omega-3 index of >8% has been proposed as the optimal level to support cardiovascular health. The average omega-3 index in the United States is about 4%, meaning most people need more EPA+DHA.15,16 We guarantee that supplementing with Best Catch Omegas will increase your omega-3 index.
Are You Getting Enough
Vegans consume negligible amounts of EPA and DHA, while vegetarians get less than 5 mg/day of EPA and varying amounts of DHA depending on whether they eat eggs.16 In fact, the amount consumed by vegetarians is still so small that researchers have observed they get “virtually no DHA and EPA” in their diet.17
While omnivores do a better job, they still fall short. Their consumption of EPA and DHA varies according to how much fish and eggs they eat. On average, they’re only getting 100–150-mg/d.18
The amount of EPA and DHA in the diet depends on the food they eat. Below is a list of common foods and the how much combined EPA+DHA are in each one.19 Unless otherwise noted, a serving of fish is 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards in the palm of your hand.
- Atlantic farmed salmon: 1,670 mg
- Atlantic wild salmon: 1,220 mg
- Canned sardines, 1 can (3.75 oz): 910 mg
- Rainbow trout: 500 mg
- Atlantic cod: 150 mg
- Yellowfin tuna: 80 mg
- Canned tuna in water: 740 mg
- Plant oils (eg, canola, flaxseed, corn, olive): 0 mg
- Seeds (eg, almonds, chia, walnuts, flax): 0 mg
Caution with Fish
While fish is an excellent source of EPA and DHA, eating it creates a critical dilemma. Eating fish has many health benefits, but it also exposes people to environmental contaminants. Mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bisphenol A and phthalates bioaccumulate in fish and are then passed on to us when we eat them.20
The type of mercury found in fish is methylmercury. This form is a neurotoxin and particularly dangerous to brain development in babies during the nine months of pregnancy and the first year of life. In fact, there appears to be no safe level of methylmercury.21 PCBs are associated with a wide range of adverse effects, including cancer, and damage to the liver, immune, reproductive, cardiometabolic, endocrine and nervous systems.22-26 Bisphenol A and phthalates are endocrine disruptors—chemicals that can mimic, block or alter the actions of normal hormones.
While eating fish can be part of a healthy diet, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published guidelines to help reduce the risk for consuming excessive contamination. It includes the recommendation that pregnant women and women who may get pregnant eat no more than twelve ounces of fish per week from a variety of low-mercury seafood. Less mercury is found in cold water fish like salmon and cod than in warm water like tuna and swordfish. For children 1-11 years old, the FDA recommends consuming no more than 8 ounces of lower-mercury fish.27
Best Catch Omegas™
For all these reasons, supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 product is important. When looking for an omega-3 formula, it’s important to ensure it provides enough EPA + DHA, has been tested for contaminants and is the most bioavailable form. Best Catch Omegas has been specially formulated to provide 1500 mg of EPA + DHA per serving in a 2:1 ratio that we guarantee will increase your omega-3 index. Every step of the way, we’ve gone the extra mile to ensure we’re creating only the highest quality product. Our raw material is wild caught and molecularly distilled. The EPA and DHA are in their triglyceride forms, which is 25-50% more absorbable than other types of EPA and DHA and less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset.8,28,29 We’ve also added an enteric coating to the softgels to help eliminate fishy aftertaste, a pleasant lemon flavor, and vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol) and rosemary extract antioxidants to protect its potency and freshness.
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21Grandjean P, Weihe P, White RF, et al. 1997;19(6):417-428.
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