Is It Possible To Get Too Many Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
It’s important to first point out there’s no upper limit for the amount of omega-3s you consume, so keep packing your meals with these healthy fatty acids!
mbg’s own director of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, puts it this way: “Just like there aren’t ‘upper limits’ for carbs or protein, omega-3s are a healthy fat for which assigning a ceiling for the general population doesn’t make good sense. Per the science, there is no reason to tiptoe around omega-3 fats, just like you wouldn’t tiptoe around avocados or olive oil. These are healthy fats that deserve a prominent place in every dietary pattern.”
As far as supplements go, there is technically an upper ceiling for how much EPA and DHA we should get—but it’s much, much higher than you’d think (and not a concern at all at clinically efficacious doses).
Clinical research has revealed that it’s safe to take up to 10 grams (10,000 milligrams) of EPA and DHA a day—that’s over 20 times the recommended minimum intake (i.e., two servings of fish per week equals approximately 500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA daily). For context, most fish oil supplements offer 250 to 1,800 milligrams of EPA and DHA per daily serving, meaning you’d have to take 10 to 40 servings a day to reach potentially dangerous levels (i.e., a silly high amount).
Speaking of the alleged health concerns surrounding omega-3s, let’s address the concern that taking a fish oil supplement may result in blood thinning and reduce blood clotting. While evidence shows that omega-3s naturally have a positive biological effect on platelets, blood thinning is not a concern at the dosage that omega-3 supplements provide—or even the outrageously high (yet completely safe) intake of 10 grams per day, for that matter.
Eager to address this fish oil folklore, Ferira explains that the past 30 years of epidemiologic and clinical trial research demonstrates, from multiple systematic reviews and meta-analyses, that there’s no increased risk for bleeding.
“Even if you wanted to be incredibly conservative and apply a random safety factor of two, and make that daily max 5 grams (5,000 milligrams) of EPA plus DHA, those are not omega-3 levels that supplements provide. Period,” Ferira notes.
That being said, anyone with personalized bleeding considerations and/or on blood-thinning medication should talk to their health care provider before adding an omega-3 supplement to their daily routine (out of an abundance of caution).