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Omega-3 Dose of 250 mg Needed to Protect Your Heart


To help protect your heart, a minimum dose of 250 mg daily of omega-3 fatty acids may be the ticket. That’s the finding reported by researchers in a recent issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

Omega-3s are good for cardiovascular health

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found mainly in certain fish such as tuna, salmon, anchovies, and herring, as well as walnuts and some fruits and vegetables, have demonstrated a range of health benefits. Studies have shown that omega-3s can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce symptoms of depression, joint pain, hypertension, and some skin conditions.

Finding the most effective dose is always a factor when dealing with any supplement. Based on a new review and meta-analysis, a research team has identified 250 milligrams as the minimum effective dose of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)--to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death by 35 percent.

This dose is also associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of “total fatal coronary events.” Thus the study’s authors explained that 250 mg “may, indeed, be a minimum target to be achieved by the general population for the promotion of cardiovascular health.”

This dose is in line with several others from around the world. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends people eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week, “which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA.” In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority stated that 250 mg should be the reference intake value for EPA and DHA.

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In the new review and meta-analysis, which was led by Kathy Musa-Veloso from Cantox Health Sciences International, the reviewers evaluated 8 prospective studies. These studies indicated that intake of at least 250 mg was associated with a significant reduction in sudden cardiac death, as well as near-significant reductions in total fatal coronary event risk.

The minimum effective dose, however, is not the optimum, as co-author of the study, Harry Rice, PhD, VP of regulatory and scientific affairs for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s noted. He said their results “suggest that 250 mg/day EPA + DHA should be considered a minimum, not an optimum, level of consumption.”

Rice emphasized that the novelty of this meta-analysis was that the data came from individuals “previously free of known coronary heart disease.” Therefore, their findings provide evidence that a dietary reference intake for EPA and DHA should be established.

Other authors of the study were affiliated with the University of Toronto, Denomega Nutritional Oils AS, Ocean Nutrition Canada, and Monsanto.

This latest study of omega-3 fatty acids and their impact on heart health supports previous research. Rice recommended that “in the interest of public health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) should assess the current data on health outcomes associated with the long-chain omega-3s.”

Musa-Veloso K et al. British Journal of Nutrition 2011; doi: 10.1017/S0007114511001644