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How much Omega-3s do we need?

Nutrition experts disagree both on how much we need, and the optimal ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Some recommend consuming equal quantities (a 1:1 ratio), while others recommend no more than 10 omega-6s to each omega-3. The diet of our Paleolithic ancestors probably ranged from equal quantities to a 5:1 ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. In Japan, the traditional soy-and-seafood-based diet shows a ratio of 2.8 to 1. However, the current American diet contains roughly ten to twenty times as much omega-6 as omega-3 fatty acids.

According to Paul Thomas, RD and editor of The Dietary Supplement newsletter, "Most Americans eat diets that provide less than 100 mg/day of EPA and DHA. The national Food and Nutrition Board has established an 'adequate intake' level of 110 mg for adult women and 160 mg for adult men. Other nutrition experts advise a more generous intake of 500-1,000 mg/day from food if possible but from supplements if needed. People with heart disease, various mental illnesses, and rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from higher amounts but should discuss the matter with their healthcare providers first."

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade organization, points out that the American Heart Association recommends consuming two fish dinners a week?which is roughly 3 to 4 times more than the Food and Nutrition Board has characterized as "adequate". The World Health Organization and various countries around the world recommend daily intakes averaging 300-500 mg/day of EPA plus DHA. Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, an expert on omega-3s, recommends getting an average of 1,000 mg/day.



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