Omega 3: Can excessive consumption bring health risks? doctor explains


The importance of having good sources of Omega 3 in the food is already known, but a new consensus from the Brazilian Association of Nutrology (ABRAN) shows that, in addition to the diet of the Brazilian being deficient in this regard, exaggerating consumption is not a good option.


The main sources of Omega 3 for Brazilians are seaweed and marine fish, such as salmon and sardines. However, in addition to being little consumed in Brazil, the most common salmon here is raised in captivity and does not have the proper concentration of DHA – one of the components that are most good for health.

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In the case of sardines, an alternative source more accessible to Brazilians due to the price, consumption is also insufficient to ensure the intake of recommended amounts of DHA.

For doctor Jordanna Leão, who has more than 10 years of experience in fetal monitoring, not having a food option that reaches the ideal levels of Omega 3 is worrying, especially for pregnant and lactating women, since the substance is essential for the development of the baby and the general health of both the child and the mother.

“DHA is a fundamental nutrient for the health of children in their growth and development. Its main role is in the formation and functioning of the central nervous system and retina”, explains the specialist. “Studies point to the association of DHA, EPA and ARA with maternal health during pregnancy. This also reflects on duration of pregnancy, occurrence of preterm birth, birth weight of the baby, likelihood of postpartum depression, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, and postnatal growth patterns.”

The professional also highlights that the nutrient is so comprehensive that it also benefits neurological and cognitive development, related to learning. Adequate consumption can also reduce the presence of atopic dermatitis, allergies and respiratory diseases.

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Omega 3 without exaggeration

On the other hand, the concern about the lack of sufficient DHA in Omega 3 is parallel to the exacerbated consumption: whenever the importance of a substance for health becomes an agenda, it is common for the general population to seek to increase consumption. About this movement and the Omega 3, the doctor points out that adequate nutritional monitoring is important.

This is because, as he points out, the lack of regulation related to DHA in the creation of marine fish in captivity makes it difficult to define adequate and safe sources. In addition, with the increase in fish consumption, there is still the risk of a greater intake of heavy metals, representing a great danger to health.

“Regarding consumption, a serving of fish has approximately 120 g of DHA. With this, the recommended intake is three servings per week, that is, 360 g weekly. With regard to supplementation, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines at least 200 mg of DHA daily for pregnant women”, he guides.

Image: shutterstock/Tekkol

Although DHA is essential to achieve the best health conditions for pregnant and lactating women, Jordanna emphasizes that resorting to a change in diet or supplementation without guidance can also be harmful. The ideal is to look for information on reliable networks and, of course, be sure to consult the doctor for a more personalized assessment and guidance.

“It is worth noting that these days the FDA — [Food and Drug Administration] regulatory authority in the United States — does not provide very great security regarding the consumption of fish due to the risk of mercury poisoning. It is essential to know the origin of the fish. The pregnant woman should also not eat fish indiscriminately. The maximum weekly dose must be respected and there are still fish that cannot be consumed in any way, such as peacock bass, Chilean sea bass, striped bass, tuna and lobster, among others.”

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