Every year on March 3, we celebrate Global Omega-3 Day™. Omega-3s (O-3s) are beneficial fatty acid nutrients found in every cell.
EPA and DHA omega-3s, found in marine sources, play a vital role in heart, brain, and eye health and in supporting a healthy pregnancy. 80% of people worldwide receive less than enough EPA and DHA omega-3s, so Global Omega-3 Day was created to highlight these health benefits. Global Omega-3 Day was established by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), a member organization of companies all along the EPA and DHA omega-3 supply chain, from fisheries to finished product brands.
History of Global Omega-3 Day™
Nutrition science and interest in nutrients for disease prevention is a relatively recent area of study originating in the early- to mid-1900s. Interest in omega-3s skyrocketed after researchers Hans Olaf Bang and Jørn Dyerberg published their landmark papers in the 1970s on the high-fat diet (mainly fish and whale blubber) of Indigenous Greenlanders and their remarkably low rates of heart attack.
Since then, more than 50,000 published research papers have discussed the topic of EPA and DHA omega-3s – the longer-chain omega-3 fats found in fatty fish most closely associated with numerous health benefits – and more than 4,500 human clinical trials have been conducted. Yet, most people are still not getting enough of these nutrients.
That’s why GOED created Global Omega-3 Day – to highlight these vital nutrients and help people worldwide understand why they need more EPA and DHA omega-3s. Companies, health professionals, and people worldwide are encouraged to discuss the importance of omega-3s and share how to get more EPA and DHA omega-3s.
Global Omega-3 Day™ timeline
The first paper on omega-3s as a component of mammalian brains is published.
The Lancet publish a landmark study on the lower levels of heart disease among Indigenous Peoples of Greenland, who eat a very fish-centric diet.
The first study on fish oil/omega-3 supplementation and cardiovascular-related death outcomes is published.
Dr. Bill Harris and Dr. Clemens von Schacky develop the Omega-3 Index — a range of concentrations of EPA+DHA omega-3 levels in red blood cells. Omega-3 Index levels of 8% or greater are considered “desirable” for supporting heart health.
A team of doctors and researchers, led by Dr. Carol Locke, the founder of OmegaBrite, establish International Omega-3 Awareness Day, a day of symposia and science-sharing, and the campaign lasts three years.
The Global Organization for EPA+DHA Omega-3s, a trade organization of companies and organizations along the omega-3 supply chain, including supplement maker OmegaBrite, relaunches Global Omega-3 Day as a way for the industry to come together and educate people about the importance of EPA+DHA omega-3s.
5 Ways to Get More EPA+DHA Omega-3s
1. Think S.M.A.S.H. Fish
Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, and Herring are the richest fish sources of omega-3s. (Tilapia, shrimp, and clams are not).
2. Venture Beyond the Fish Counter
Fresh fish isn’t the only way to get your omega-3 fix. Canned salmon, frozen fish sticks, and tins of sardines are great options, too.
3. Pair Pills with Food
If you are plagued by “fish burps,” take your omega-3 supplements with food, preferably something fatty.
4. Veg Out
Are you not a fish lover? Don’t despair! There are vegetarian/vegan supplements made from marine microalgae. Fun fact —algae is what the fish in the ocean feast on to build up their omega-3 levels.
5. Link Your Habits
If you forget to take your daily omega-3 supplement, put it in a place you can’t miss, like next to your coffee pot or on your nightstand.
Global Omega-3 Day™ FAQs
What’s the difference between ALA, EPA, and DHA omega-3s?
There are three main omega-3s: EPA, DHA, and ALA. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) comes from plants. ALA is an “essential” omega-3 because we need to get this fat from the diet — our bodies can’t make it on their own. It’s found in seeds (flax, chia), nuts (walnuts), and oils (soybean, canola), to name a few. ALA may convert to EPA and DHA in the body, but the rate at which that happens is low.
EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively) are omega-3s from marine (sea) sources. EPA and DHA are the omega-3s that are the most protective of the heart. Scientific evidence also supports the role of EPA and DHA for brain, eye, and prenatal health.
Is there a recommended intake for EPA and DHA omega-3s?
Although omega-3s are considered vital, there is no established Adequate Intake (AI) or Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) in the United States for EPA and DHA omega-3s. Governments in other countries and a variety of expert scientific bodies around the world have set recommendations between 250 and 1000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. GOED recommends at least 500 mg EPA+DHA per day for overall health — more if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a history of heart disease.
Is it possible to take too much omega-3s? In other words, is there an upper limit or potential to overdose?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recognize that long-term intake of 5g/day of EPA+DHA is safe. The human body tends to self-regulate if you receive more than you need. You might feel gastrointestinal discomfort, have diarrhea, or your sweat could smell odd.
My fish oil pill smells fishy… has it gone bad?
Fish oils are like cooking oils — they should not be near heat and light and don’t last forever. Too much heat and light can lead to oxidation, which is why many supplement pills come in dark or opaque bottles. The human body can deal with some oxidation, but if your pills smell bad or are past their expiration date, you should probably toss them out.
How do I know if my omega-3 supplement is good quality?
A quality supplement is one that not only takes manufacturing seriously but also has ethical marketing around its product. All omega-3 supplement companies are members of GOED and have voluntarily pledged to uphold standards of quality and ethics. You can find a list of these companies at GOEDQuality.com.
How to Observe Global Omega-3 Day™
Get your omega-3 levels measured
You can get a simple at-home test kit or ask your doctor or dietitian to measure your omega-3 blood levels. Such a test will help determine what changes you need to make to your diet.
Commit to eating more fish
EPA+DHA omega-3s come from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. Fish is an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, too. Your goal should be to eat fish at least twice per week. Even if you regularly eat fish, you may want an omega-3 supplement to get those levels where they need to be. Find the type that works for you: fish oil pills, omega-3 chews, liquid oil, vegan algal oil — whatever will give you at least 500 mg EPA+DHA daily.
Tell everyone you know
Get the word out about the importance of EPA+DHA omega-3s. Use the hashtag #omega3day and tag @alwaysomega3s.
Why Global Omega-3 Day™ is Important
Omega-3 fats are healthy fats
EPA and DHA omega-3 fats are long-chain, highly unsaturated fats that support healthy heart, brain, and eye function and development. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, they are also critical for the developing baby and for preventing early preterm birth.
They help save healthcare $$
Nearly $4 billion in healthcare costs in the United States could be saved if adults with a history of coronary heart disease took 1,000 mg of omega-3 supplements per day as recommended by the American Heart Association (and at an average daily cost of 25 cents).
Most people aren’t getting enough
80% of people worldwide, and 95% of Americans, are not getting enough EPA+DHA omega-3s. Many health organizations worldwide recommend getting 250-500 mg EPA+DHA omega-3s daily. The average American is getting only 90-100 mg per day.
Global Omega-3 Day™ dates