Fact: The human body needs to get EPA or DHA omega-3s from foods or supplements

The body can't rely on ALA omega-3s to create EPA and DHA. In order to increase your body's EPA and DHA levels, you need to eat foods containing these nutrients or take supplements. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet includes too little EPA and DHA. Take the quiz to see if you're getting enough.

The amount you need

Although omega-3s are considered vital, recommendations on how much you need vary quite a bit from country to country. Most often the recommendations are around 250mg, 500mg or even 1,000 mg per day. 

You can get EPA and DHA omega-3s by eating fish, taking a supplement or eating foods made with added EPA and DHA.

A standard serving of fish is about 4 ounces (113 grams) by weight. Fatty fish – for example, salmon, mackerel, herring or tuna – tend to have higher omega-3 content. Eating two servings of fatty fish per week should help you meet the minimum guidelines for EPA and DHA to support an overall healthy diet.

Omega-3 Content of Fish

If you do not regularly eat fish, or if you’re looking to raise your omega-3 levels in the body, a supplement can help. There are many options to choose from: supplements made from fish, krill and vegetarian marine algae; smaller-sized supplements for easier swallowing; enteric-coated supplements designed to reduce “fish burps;” flavored liquid formulas; and so much more. The key is to find a supplement that you like, and that you’ll stick with.

Remember when you’re looking for a supplement, look at the Supplement Facts panel on the bottle or box, and add up the amounts of EPA and DHA provided in each serving (be sure to check the serving size, too!). 

More About Supplements

Foods and beverages with added EPA and DHA can help boost your omega-3s a little bit, but you shouldn't depend on these functional foods for all of your daily EPA and DHA needs. Most foods and drinks have between 30-100 mg added EPA and/or DHA, and your goal should be at least 250-500 mg.

More About Functional Foods