The Omega-3 Supplement Calculator is a simple tool to help you find out what you getting out of your omega-3 supplements, and how to tailor your supplement regimen to reach your target Omega-3 Index.
Why do I need to use the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator? Many people may think they are getting enough omega-3s because they eat fish occasionally and take something that looks like a fish oil supplement. That’s likely not going to be enough to have an Omega-3 Index in the desirable range, especially if they don’t know the amount of EPA+DHA in their supplement. Our research shows that individuals may need to eat fish more than twice per week and take a supplement containing EPA+DHA to reach and maintain an Omega-3 Index of 8%. That may seem daunting, but you can easily tailor your supplement regimen to reach a desirable Omega-3 Index using the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator. (Note: We are working on a Fish Calculator, but in the mean time, check out a useful one here).
Meet Frank. For example, let’s say a guy named Frank got his Omega-3 Index tested and found out his level was 5.7%. This is a pretty typical level for Americans, but it is not in the desirable range (>8%). He’s been taking a generic fish oil supplement for a while and taking maybe 1-2 pills every other day. He also eats fish once every other week, usually tuna salad or sushi. What we know from his test results is that his diet and supplement regimen is not rich enough in EPA and DHA to achieve a desirable Omega-3 Index… but what should he be doing? We rolled out the Omega-3 Index Calculator to help people like Frank better estimate how much EPA and DHA they would need to take to reach their goals, but now we have taken that one step further with the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator.
Using the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator is easy and free. Let’s get back to our example above: Frank enters his information into the Omega-3 Index Calculator and finds out he needs an additional 618 mg of EPA+DHA per day. With this information and the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator, he can figure out how many (additional) capsules of his omega-3 supplement he’ll need to take to meet that goal. Frank could also use the Omega-3 Supplement Calculator to comparison shop before he buys a new supplement. If he had trouble taking a lot of capsules, then he can find one that is highly concentrated so he takes fewer capsules.
Please Please PLEASE check the back of your supplement bottle before you start taking it. Maybe you haven’t checked out the Supplement Facts panel on your omega-3 supplement and you discover that your supplement with “1000 mg” of fish oil really only has 300 mg EPA+DHA in 2 pills. Or the supplement you are taking doesn’t specifically list the amount of “EPA” and “DHA” separately so you can’t actually figure out what you are taking (and probably should find a different supplement). The Omega-3 Supplement Calculator helps you cut through the often misleading front-of-pack labeling by requiring that you enter the information from the Supplement Facts panel.
The Omega-3 Supplement Calculator can also be used to help optimize Mother’s Milk DHA levels. The Omega-3 Supplement Calculator can also be used to determine the best pre- or post-natal DHA or omega-3 supplement for you, when used in combination with the Mother’s Milk DHA Calculator.
Consistency is key. Once you figure out the right supplement for you, the next most important step is to be consistent. You can have the most potent and pure EPA+DHA supplement money can buy, but if you are inconsistent in taking the supplement, then you will not reach your target Omega-3 Index very quickly.
Can the calculator be used with ALA supplements like flaxseed and chia seed oils? No. The Omega-3 Index is not affected by taking supplements or eating foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the parent omega-3 fatty acid of EPA and DHA. Other “plant-based” omega-3 supplements, such as algal DHA, will affect your Omega-3 Index because they contain DHA.
If you have more questions about changing your Omega-3 Index, check out our blogs on food and supplements.