The Short Answer: There isn’t enough research on omega-3s to determine the specific amount people should get every day. That’s why you won’t find a %DV* for omega-3 fatty acids on a nutrition facts label. (*the recommended daily value of a nutrient based on a 2,000-calorie diet).
Current Recommendations: When The Institute of Medicine isn’t comfortable setting a DV, they set an adequate intake level (AI). AIs are not particularly precise–they basically look at how much omega-3 seemingly healthy people get in their diet and set the AI there. It’s like if you walked up to a random person on the street who looked normal and said, ‘what do you eat?’ and assume that if you eat the same things, you’ll be healthy. It’s not an ideal strategy.
For men, the AI for omega-3s is 1.6 grams per day, and for women, it’s 1.1 grams per day. You can easily exceed these adequate numbers with just one 6-ounce serving of wild salmon (1.7 grams) or farmed salmon (4.5 grams).
Do omega-3 (fish oil) supplements work as well as food?
Not likely. Studies haven’t found the same health benefits in fish oil or algal DHA supplements.
How to Get Enough Omega-3: Instead of worrying about grams or percentages, eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes foods naturally rich in omega-3s like organic, cold-pressed canola oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and fatty fish (think: salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna).
Note: A version of this post originally appeared on HealthWarrior.com (I write nutrition content for their website/e-mail list)