What Is the Daily Serving Size of EPA & DHA?

Fish oil capsules are loaded with DHA and EPA.

Fish oil capsules are loaded with DHA and EPA.

Getting your daily dose of the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, may provide you with some heart-healthy benefits and is a must for women who may become pregnant. However, the American Pregnancy Association reports that Western diets are often deficient in omega-3s. Eating a variety of omega-3-rich foods can help boost your levels.

EPA Recommendations

Meeting your daily EPA needs may help reduce depression and boost your mood, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, which reports that adequate EPA intake for women is 220 milligrams per day. The center also notes a higher EPA intake is beneficial for a healthy heart.

DHA Recommendations

Although your body can make small amounts of DHA, obtaining this fatty acid from your diet is a must when it comes to getting the amount you need on a daily basis. Women should aim for at least 220 milligrams of DHA daily; if you are trying to get pregnant, shoot for 300 milligrams each day, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Higher doses of DHA in fish oil supplements have been used to treat high triglyceride levels and prevent heart disease in research studies.

EPA plus DHA

Getting the right combination of EPA plus DHA is important when it comes to reaping maximum health benefits. The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids encourages adults to get at least 500 milligrams daily of a combination of DHA plus EPA. According to MedlinePlus, DHA- and EPA-rich fish oils in amounts of 1,000 to 4,000 milligrams daily have been used to treat high triglycerides, which can lead to heart disease, while a daily dose of 4,000 milligrams of fish oil may help treat high blood pressure. However, always chat with your doctor before using high doses of fish oil.

Sources of DHA and EPA

Fatty fish and or supplements are loaded with DHA and EPA. Examples include salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines and fish oil supplements. Algae is a plant-based form of DHA, but does not contain EPA, reports University of Maryland Medical Center. MedlinePlus notes that 3.5 ounces of fatty fish provide you with about 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which means eating these omega-3-rich fish a few times per week can help you meet your DHA and EPA needs without using supplements.

Concerns

More isn’t always better when it comes to fish and fish oil supplements. Foods and supplements rich in DHA and EPA may also contain contaminants, like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Therefore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends women who may become pregnant eat no more than 12 ounces of low-mercury fish -- like salmon, shrimp, catfish and pollock -- weekly. Consuming more than 3,000 milligrams of fish oil daily may also increase your risk for bleeding, according to MedlinePlus.

 

About the Author

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.

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