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.
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.