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The Maximum Amount of Omega-3 a Day

By Graham Ulmer

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that assist with neurological development and growth. According to the National Institute of Health, omega-3 fatty acids help prevent cardiovascular problems, improve heart and cognitive functions and reduce swelling and osteoarthritic conditions. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine provides both adequate intake values and acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges for omega-3 fatty acids. While there is no upper limit at which potential adverse health risks occur with omega-3 intake, omega-3 is a fat and the IOM bases the higher end of its AMDR value on maintaining an appropriate balance with other dietary fats. Regardless of age, omega-3 fatty acid intake should not exceed 1.2 percent of total caloric intake.

Infants

The AI value for infants ages 0 to 12 months is 0.5 g of omega-3 fatty acids each day. The AMDR for omega-3 fatty acids for infants is considered not determinable by the IOM because of a lack of data and an inability for this age group to handle large amounts of omega-3 for research purposes. The IOM advises infants obtain omega-3 fatty acids strictly from food sources to avoid excess intake.

Children

Omega-3 fatty acid requirements are presented as a percentage of total caloric intake, and as children grow and their caloric needs increase, their omega-3 fatty acid needs increase as well. The AI for children ages 1 to 3 for omega-3 fatty acids is 0.7 grams per day, while children ages 4 to 8 should consume 0.9 grams per day, according to the IOM. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that moderately active male and female children ages 4 to 8 require about 2,000 and 1,500 calories each day, respectively. Male children should then avoid consuming more than 24 calories from omega-3 fatty acids a day, while female children should consume no more than 18 calories.

Males

According to the IOM, the AI for omega-3 fatty acids for males ages 9 to 13 is 1.2 grams per day. Men of older ages should then aim to consume 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids each day. The USDA estimates that moderately active adult men generally require about 2,600 calories a day, so most men should avoid consuming more than 31 calories from omega-3 fatty acids each day.

Females

The AI for females ages 9 to 13 is 1.0 gram of omega-3 fatty acids a day, while older females require slightly more with 1.1 grams a day. As with most nutrients, pregnant and lactating mothers have greater omega-3 fatty acid needs with 1.4 grams and 1.3 grams per day, respectively. The USDA estimates that moderately active female adults require about 2,000 calories a day, so most women should avoid consuming more than 24 calories from omega-3 fatty acids each day.

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