By now just about everyone is aware that consuming essential fatty acids like DHA is vital to your cardiovascular health, weight management, and general inflammation reduction. In general, the more health problems you have relating to cardiovascular health, blood sugar, weight, and inflammation, the higher the level of intake should be. A new study with Eskimos suggests that more is better as the study authors concluded, “Increasing EPA and DHA intakes to amounts well above those consumed by the general US population may have strong beneficial effects on chronic disease risk.”
Studying the Eskimo population is interesting because you have the group that has been westernized to eat a diet of junk fat and refined carbohydrates and you have the more traditional eaters of very high essential fatty acid intake in the form of fish. The study clearly showed that those with the highest intake of essential fatty acids EPA and DHA had the lowest levels of triglycerides, the highest levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and the lowest levels of inflammation. Higher DHA levels predicted lower LDL cholesterol.
You are what you eat in terms of fat. In the study, red blood cell membranes were analyzed for their percentage of EPA and DHA. The highest levels averaged 6.8%, which translates to approximately 6.8% of fat intake as EPA and DHA (9% was the high end). Lets say you eat 2000 calories per day and 30% of that is in the form of fat (a fairly typical dietary pattern for generally health conscious Americans). This means you are eating 600 calories of fat per day, or 66 grams of fat. To hit the 6.8% mark in the study you would need 4.5 grams of EPA/DHA (4500 milligrams). To hit the 9% mark you would need 6 grams of EPA/DHA (6000 milligrams).
I have previously explained in my article, DHA, Krill Oil & Green-Lipped Mussel – Which is Best? why doses ranging from 1000 mg to 4000 mg of EPA/DHA are so valuable to your health. This new study indicates that some should choose even higher levels of intake, up to 6000 mg, especially if difficult metabolic problems are occurring. Of course, the people at the high end of intake in this study were not doing so to fix a metabolic problem – they were just eating this much as a way of life – and their classic biomarkers of cardiovascular disease were better than those with lower intake.