What is your opinion on DHA/EPA Omega-3 Supplements?
Almost all North Americans fall far short of the target daily intakes of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) plus EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) as recommended by expert organizations and groups for optimal health and the prevention/management of chronic health conditions. This so-called omega-3 ‘nutrition gaps’ exist mainly because of the very infrequent consumption of fish/seafood containing DHA/EPA. Thus, we at the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute encourage a much greater consumption of fish/seafood plus other foods enriched in DHA/EPA.
For those who do not markedly increase their intake of fish/seafood or other food sources of DHA/EPA for whatever reasons, selecting an omega-3 concentrate rich in DHA/EPA as a supplement is a very effective way to ensure proper intakes of DHA/EPA as needed. Also, for certain health applications needing 2000-3000 mg of EPA plus DHA daily, such as the lowering of blood fat levels as triglycerides or using omega-3 supplementation to complement the management of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, it is almost impossible to meet these target intakes by consuming numerous servings of fish/week. Such targets can be readily met by taking 2 or 3 'super omega-3' supplements providing approx. 1000 mg of EPA plus DHA per capsule whereas up to 10 or more of the much less concentrated omega-3 capsules would otherwise be needed.
It is noted that the US Food and Drug Administration has stated that it is safe to take up to 3000 mg daily of EPA plus DHA. Health Canada says that fish oil-derived supplements are safe for adults at a dose providing up to 3000 mg/day of EPA plus DHA.
What kind of supplement should I consider taking?
I personally take an omega-3 supplement which is highly enriched in EPA plus DHA so as to reduce the need to consume several capsules/day. Such a supplement is generally classified as an 'omega-3 concentrate'. Highly purified supplements known as 'omega-3 concentrates' (eg, containing up to 1000 mg of EPA plus DHA per capsule ) are essentially devoid of any and all contaminants as a result of the extensive purification steps. These are sometimes referred to also as 'pharmaceutical-grade' omega-3 supplements. In Canada, the Canadian government (Health Canada) grants a Natural Product Number (NPN) to such a high quality supplement. The NPN will appear only on supplements that have been tested for safety and quality.