Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid found in foods that, when consumed in moderation, helps to keep a person in good health. It is also essential for the brain development of fetuses and young children. The types of omega-3 acids are alpha linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eiosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are the most common acids. Although these acids are found in many foods, supplementation may be required in certain individuals. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower blood pressure, prevent cardiac problems and lower triglyceride levels.
According to Omega-3 FAQ, adults and children who are considered healthy should opt for 220 mg of Omega-3s per day. Pregnant and nursing women should opt for 300 mg per day. Usually, a doctor will recommend a DHA supplement, such as Expecta DHA, in order for a pregnant woman to meet the requirements because it is a vital acid for fetal brain development. Infants that are not breastfed should be given formula that contains DHA, such as Similac Advanced Infant Formula.
Additional doses of omega-3 acids may be recommended by a doctor to individuals with certain health conditions. According to Omega-3 FAQ, individuals who have high levels of triglycerides should take a DHA and EPA supplement of 2 to 4 grams per day. Individuals with coronary heart disease should consume 1 gram per day of DHA and EPA.
There are a variety of sources of DHA and EPA in foods, primarily fish. There are several types of fish servings that are equivalent to 1 gram of DHA and EPA. These include: 15 ounces of wild catfish or 20 ounces of farmed catfish; 7 ounces of flounder; 15 ounces of haddock; 3 to 7 ounces of halibut; 2 ounces of herring; 2 to 9 ounces of mackerel; 2 to 4 ounces of wild Atlantic salmon or 2 to 3 ounces of farmed Atlantic salmon; 2 to 3 ounces of sardines; 3 to 12 ounces of fresh tuna or 4 ounces of white canned tuna. For shellfish, 11 ounces of shrimp and 9 ounces of crab are also equivalent to 1 gram of DHA and EPA.
Oils are also a good source of ALA. Incorporate soybean, canola, walnut, fish and flaxseed oils in your diet. ALA can also be found in nuts, beans and green leafy vegetables.