How much fish should you eat to meet your daily Omega-3 needs?To reduce your risk of chronic disease, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends that you consume 430mg of Omega-3 fats per day if you’re a woman, or 610mg if you’re a man. Fish is the predominant source of Omega-3s in the Australian diet, so to meet those recommendations you need to include fish in your diet multiple times per week, and to actively choose oily fish (which are naturally richest in omega-3s) when you do.
What is the formula for eating enough fish?For example, a 150g serving of salmon or gemfish supplies 500mg or more of Omega-3s, covering all or most of your Omega-3 requirements on a given day. However, a serving of barramundi, snapper or John Dory of the same size would provide only around half of that amount (200-300mg). Similarly, the levels of Omega-3s in tinned fish vary widely, with sardines being a particularly rich source (1500mg per 150g). Tinned salmon is also a good choice (500-1000mg), followed by tinned tuna with lower (but still quite high) levels (300-500mg). Bear in mind though that we tend to eat tinned fish in relatively small serving sizes in comparison to the portions we consume when eating fresh fish. A salmon steak is typically around 150-200g in weight, whereas a small tin of salmon like many people eat for lunch is usually only around 100g. That means that when you’re assessing your dietary intake of Omega-3s, you need to consider three questions:
- Am I eating enough fish often enough to meet my Omega-3 needs?
- Do I eat fish in sufficient portion sizes to meet my Omega-3 needs?
- Am I choosing oily fish that are naturally rich in Omega-3s, like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel?
80% of Australians don’t eat enough fishRecently published data indicates that for almost all Australians, the answer to each of those three vital questions is ‘No’. In fact, four out of five of us don’t consume the recommended amounts of Omega-3s, either from our diets or from a combination of diet and supplements. Deeper analysis of the data reveals that for most Australians, it’s virtually impossible to consume optimal levels of Omega-3s from dietary sources alone. Currently only around one in 10 of us is eating enough fish to do that, making supplementation particularly important for the vast majority of us who are less consistent in selecting oily fish over other food choices.
Choosing a fish oil supplementTaking a fish oil supplement can help to top up your dietary intake of Omega-3s, and may help to maintain your heart, blood vessel, brain, skin and eye health, while also having important anti-inflammatory benefits for joint problems like mild arthritis. However, there are some key issues to consider when it comes to choosing the best fish oil supplement for your personal needs:
- Taste:Many people are put off taking fish oil supplements due to the reflux, fishy aftertaste and burps that often occur afterwards. To overcome this issue, choose an odourless, enteric-coated supplement.
- Purity:Omega-3s are highly susceptible to oxidation (free radical damage), which may compromise the freshness and flavour of your supplement, while also limiting its efficacy. Therefore, it’s important to look for a supplement made with an exceptionally pure source of Omega-3s, like VivoMega® TG90, ideally enriched with astaxanthin, a potent natural antioxidant.
- Potency:As we’ve discussed above, fish oils need to be taken in fairly large quantities in order to consume the recommended quantities for optimal long-term health. Even larger amounts are needed if you’re looking to harness the Omega-3s’ anti-inflammatory properties to help manage conditions like mild arthritis and joint pain. Yet research shows that around half of all Australians who take Omega-3 supplements still fall short of their optimal intake targets. To ensure you’re not one of them, choose a concentrated supplement that allows you to take high doses Omega-3s without the inconvenience of swallowing large numbers of capsules each day.