special edition: omega-3s

GOED on doubling EFSA’s omega-3 recommendation

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid

In April this year the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) published its first recommendation for EPA and DHA, as an attempt to wade in and bring unity to divergent nutrition advice.

Its conclusion? That a 500 mg daily dose is enough to meet the basic nutritional needs of the general population.

But how did it come to this figure, which is double that suggested by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)​ and most EU member state authorities?

GOED executive director Adam Ismail said this was not a matter of a trade group cherry picking from data but balancing the best evidence available.

The final figure was based largely on a 2004 review​ from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL).

Recommendations-Worldwide (1)

“These are the scientists that are experts in fatty acids in nutrition and we felt like their review was really robust and used randomised controlled trials that supported the level of 500 mg,” ​Ismail told us at the industry event Vitafoods this month.

“And in addition to that it looked at more conditions than just cardiovascular disease, which is really what the EFSA recommendation is based on.”

He said 500 mg was also in line with advice from nutritionists.

There isn’t much agreement out there when it comes to omega-3 recommendations though, with regional advice differing widely.

Recommendation spectrum: 0-1300 mg

While GOED’s 500 mg was in line with French recommendations, it fell well below the 1300 mg advised by Russia and well above the 250 mg recommended by most European countries and China.

Ismail said GOED published its own recommendations after repeated requests for a clear stance from the trade group.

“We are an industry association and we work to grow consumption of omega-3s to adequate levels, and so one of the questions we always got was well: ‘What’s an adequate level?’

“And we didn’t have a formal position but we deferred to a lot of the other expert scientific groups out there and government’s that had established recommended intakes.”

goed omega 3 intakes

500 mg covers base nutritional needs, he said, with more needed for other specific groups and conditions.

GOED recommends 700 – 1000 mg for pregnant and lactating women and more than that for people with health conditions such as high blood pressure. 

High, but safe 

Back in 2012, EFSA concluded daily supplemental intakes of 5 g​ of EPA and DHA combined, up to 1.8 g/day of EPA alone and 1 g/day of DHA alone did not raise safety concerns for adults.

The conclusion was the result of a review of possible adverse health effects caused by excessive intakes requested by the European Commission.  

EFSA said actual intakes of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from food and food supplements in Europe were generally below these amounts.

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