Answer– I’ve received several similar questions this week and it actually took a bit of digging to find an accurate answer. Unlike nutrients like vitamin C or minerals like iron, there are no universal standards to support a recommended daily allowance ( RDA). Rather boards of scientists have looked at different nutritional studies to come up with a number where they can say offers health benefits. In most cases, doctors examined heart disease trials to see how much omega 3 is needed to protect against cardiac problems. Most of the experts established that the daily minimum for health benefits of omega 3 is about 400mg/day. At the other end, they recommended a maximum of 3000mg og daily omega 3, with no more then 2ooomg coming from supplements.
In terms of real food, 3 ounces of mussels provides 700mg of omega 3, about two days worth– which is the number behind recommendations of 2-3 servings of fish a week. I also have new respect for salmon which has 1,800 mg of omega 3 in a modest 3 ounce portion. Since most servings of salmon are more like 6-8 ounces, a single weekly serving of salmon more than meets your omega 3 needs for a week. Done!
Omega 3 supplements provide 500- 1000mg per capsule and certainly get the job done, but I am concerned about their potential contaminents. Some studies have shown presence of mercury and PCB’s ( two known cancer causing agents) in popular brands of fish oil capsules. Omega 3 capsules made from cod and shark livers seem to have the highest levels. This has led some people to focus on the benefits of omega 3 from tiny fish like Krill. Another approach has been to try to establish manufacturing guidelines such as Certificate of Analysis or International Fish Oil Standards, but it gets pretty confusing pretty fast.
For now I’m going to get the health and beauty benefits of omega 3 from a couple of servings of fish a week. Its safe and delicious and I don’t need a degree in chemistry to make the right choice.