How Much Omega-3 Per Day Should I Take for Optimum Bodybuilding?
In recent years, the impacts of omega-3 supplementation have become a popular topic in preventative health and performance optimization. Many bodybuilders know the reported positive effects of omega-3 fats such as increasing energy, improving brain function, and reducing inflammation, just to name a few. However, the question often remains, “how much omega-3 per day to necessary obtain maximum benefit?”
What Are Omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids exist in three different forms: EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), DHA (docosohexanoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Many supplements you will find on the shelves contain EPA and DHA. These two omega-3 fatty acids are used most efficiently by the human body. Though ALAs are commonly found in daily diets from plant sources such as seeds and nuts, they must be converted to DHA or EPA to be used by the body. Therefore, this makes them a less efficient source of omega-3 fats.
Where Can I Get Omega-3s?
The American Heart Association recommends eating a clean, cold-water fish source at least twice a week to maintain adequate levels of omega-3 fats. It is best to prioritize clean fish sources like salmon, herring, or trout, rather than those that may contain high amounts of mercury such as shark, swordfish or king mackerel. If you are training, it should not be difficult to incorporate a variety of these essential fats into your diet. However, you may also consider supplementing these sources as there is still very little uptake of omega-3 from our food.
What Is the Science Saying?
FDA recommendations suggest no more than 3g of total omega-3 per day with up to 2g/day coming from dietary supplements. The European Food Safety Authority claims that long-term amounts of up to 5g/day are shown to be safe. Some trainers and coaches will tell you that even 6 grams per day (in 2-3g amounts at one time) have shown significant results. The problem is that there is not significant research to confirm the correlation between higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and greater results. More studies will be needed to confirm the successful outcome of higher dosages.
As always, it is best to take heed of the facts when it comes to supplementation. If you plan to take a higher dosage of omega-3 supplements it is best to consult your nutritionist or doctor first. Extremely high amounts of EPA and DHA can keep the blood from coagulating, or clotting, thus leading to excessive bleeding if not monitored.
Which Omega 3 Supplement to take?
If you are looking for an omega-3 supplement, here are a couple tips to keep in mind:
EPA & DHA are the priority
Fish oil supplements normally contain adequate amounts of EPA & DHA. It is not a priority to supplement ALA as it is already more common in our food sources and not as efficient for the body to use anyways. You will most likely find that supplements give you between 2000 to 3000mg (2-3g) total omega-3s per serving size.
The supplement you choose should be free of mercury. The National Institutes of Health claim that most supplements do not contain mercury as it is removed during processing and purification, but it is still worth checking to ensure you are choosing a quality source.
Focus on omega-3s
There are supplements that offer a combination of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. While these supplements are formulated based on a proper ratio between the three variations, we often get more omega-6 and omega-9 from our food sources [olive oil, vegetable oil, nuts, grain-fed meats, etc.]. Therefore, if we are supplementing these sources while getting less omega-3s but more of the other two from our diets, we could harmfully throw off the effective ratio of these three fatty acids. This ratio imbalance could lead to less than optimal results in training and effective health benefits.
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Mandy Wray, MS February 28, 2018 • 4 min read. (2018, February 28). Your Expert Guide To Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/your-expert-guide-to-omega-3-fatty-acids.html
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