Omega-3 fatty acids, essential polyunsaturated fats the body cannot produce, play an important role in the prevention of heart disease and other chronic conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids help regulate blood clotting and inflammation and may help prevent heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, macular degeneration and some cancers. Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and plant and nut oils such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil and walnut oil.
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Because of insufficient evidence, the Institute of Medicine has not developed Recommended Dietary Allowances for omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, it has established Adequate Intake values at the level believed to ensure nutritional adequacy for healthy people. Children ages 1 to 3 should get at least 0.7 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day and children ages 4 to 8 should get at least 0.9 g per day. Males ages 9 to 13 should get 1.2 g per day, females ages 9 to 13 should get 1.0 g per day, males ages 14 and over should get 1.6 g per day and females ages 14 and over should get 1.1 g per day. Pregnant women should get.4 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day and lactating women should get 1.3 g per day.
Percentage of Calories
Calories from fat should account for only 25 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake. Calories from polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, should account for 10 percent or less of your daily caloric intake, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Fats contain 9 calories per gram.
Weekly Fish Intake
The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3-rich fatty fish at least twice per week, in servings of 3.5 oz. cooked or ¾ cups flaked. Fatty fish with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. However, albacore tuna can also contain mercury, a neurotoxin, so you're better off getting your omega-3s from other types of fish.
Fish oil supplements provide varying amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Do not take a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids greater than 3 g without doctor supervision, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center. The American Heart Association recommends daily fish oil supplements with 1 g of omega-3 fatty acids for adults with coronary heart disease, and daily fish oil supplements with 2 to 4 g of omega-3 fatty acids for adults with high cholesterol, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Children ages 18 and under should not take fish oil supplements without doctor supervision.
Consuming vegetarian-friendly sources of omega-3 fatty acids also supplements regular fish intake. These foods contain a form of omega-3 fatty acid not as easily utilized by your body, but you can convert some of the omega-3s in plant-based foods into their more useful form.