Three Daily Grams of Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be Optimal Dose to Lower Blood Pressure

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Three Daily Grams of Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be Optimal Dose to Lower Blood Pressure
  • A meta-analysis of 71 clinical trials from around the world with over 5,000 participants finds that about 3 daily grams of omega-3 fatty acids (via food or supplements) appears to be the optimal dose to lower blood pressure. 

  • Compared to adults who did not consume EPA and DHA omega-3s, those who consumed 2-3 grams daily of combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in supplements, food or both) had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 2 mmHg.

  • At 3 grams a day of omega-3s, systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased by an average of 4.5 mmHg for those with elevated blood pressure, and about 2 mmHg on average for those without.

  • At 5 grams a day of omega-3s, SBP declined by an average of nearly 4 mmHg for those with elevated blood pressure and less than 1 mmHg on average for those without.

This article was posted on EurekAlert.org: 

DALLAS, June 1, 2022 — About 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids, consumed in foods or supplements, appears to be the optimal daily dose to help lower blood pressure, according to a research review published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.

Omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are typically found in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring and oysters. Some people also take combined DHA and EPA in supplements. While some studies suggest that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure, the optimal dosage needed to lower blood pressure has not been clear. The National Institutes of Health has established an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy people at 1.1- 1.6 grams daily, depending on age and sex.

“According to our research, the average adult may have a modest blood pressure reduction from consuming about 3 grams a day of these fatty acids,” said study author Xinzhi Li, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and program director of the School of Pharmacy at Macau University of Science and Technology in Macau, China.

Researchers analyzed the results of 71 clinical trials from around the world published from 1987 to 2020. The studies examined the relationship between blood pressure and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (either individually or combined) in people aged 18 and older with or without elevated blood pressure or cholesterol disorders. There were nearly 5,000 participants combined, ranging in age from 22 to 86 years. Participants took dietary and/or prescription supplement sources of fatty acids for an average of 10 weeks.

The analysis found:

  • Compared to adults who did not consume EPA and DHA, those who consumed between 2 and 3 grams daily of combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in supplements, food or both) had reduced systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by an average 2 mm Hg.
  • Consuming more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily may have added blood pressure-lowering benefit for adults with high blood pressure or high blood lipids:
  • At 3g a day of omega-3s, systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased an average of 4.5 mm Hg for those with elevated BP, and about 2 mm Hg on average for those without.
  • At 5g a day of omega-3s, SBP declined an average of nearly 4 mm Hg for those with elevated BP and less than 1 mm Hg on average for those without.
  • Similar differences were seen in people with high blood lipids and among those older than age 45. 

About 4-5 ounces of Atlantic salmon provide 3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. A typical fish oil supplement contains about 300 mg of omega-3s per pill, but doses vary widely.

“Most of the studies reported on fish oil supplements rather than on EPA and DHA omega-3’s consumed in food, which suggests supplements may be an alternative for those who cannot eat fatty fish such as salmon regularly,” Li said. “Algae supplements with EPA and DHA fatty acids are also an option for people who do not consume fish or other animal products.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in June 2019 that it did not object to the use of certain health claims that consuming EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in food or dietary supplements may reduce the risk of elevated BP or poor heart health. However, they noted that the evidence was inconclusive and highly inconsistent.

“However, while our study may add a layer of credible evidence, it does not meet the threshold to make an authorized health claim for omega-3 fatty acids in compliance with FDA regulations.”

Limitations of the review include differences in how blood pressure was measured, and whether the studies examined omega-3 intake from supplements or diet, which may affect the strength of the conclusions.

The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings (3-4 ounces cooked) of fish per week (particularly fatty fish such as salmon) as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Co-authors are Xin Zhang, Ph.D.; Jennifer A. Ritonja, Ph.D.; Na Zhou, Ph.D.; and Bingshu E. Chen, Ph.D. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.

The study was funded by the Macau Science and Technology Development Fund and Faculty Research Grants of Macau University of Science and Technology.

Additional Resources:

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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