EFSA Proposes Safe Omega-3 Consumption Levels

July 31, 2012

The EU science agency has suggestions for safe, daily consumption levels.

In EFSA's recent assessment of EPA, DHA, and DPA omega-3s, the EU science agency says it will not establish tolerable upper intake levels for these nutrients; instead, EFSA has offered suggestions for safe, daily consumption levels.

The EU is without tolerable upper intake levels for these nutrients, and so is the United States. The U.S. FDA instead recommends consumers stay under 3 g/day of total EPA and DHA consumption.

At the request of the European Commission, EFSA looked at a large number of human trials on omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (primarily from fish oil) and concluded that insufficient data was available to establish tolerable upper intake levels for the population. The request for assessment was sparked by concerns from some member states over potential adverse health effects with high omega-3 intake, including spontaneous bleeding, other bleeding complications, affect of glucose homeostasis, and lipid peroxidation.

But EFSA found no apparent safety concerns where strong enough data was available. Combined EPA and DHA intake at up 5 g/day and EPA consumption at up to 1.8 g/day turned up no adverse health concerns for adults. Limited data was available on prolonged consumption of DHA and DPA individually, and very little could be said of DPA in general. DPA registered at very low amounts in combination studies and DPA has yet to be commercialized as a stand-alone ingredient.

Supplemental intake of EPA and DHA between 2 to 6 g/day, and DH alone between 2 to 4 g/day, was linked to increases in LDL blood cholesterol (about 3%), but the increase appears to come with a decrease in triglycerides, thus holding off any potential concern from EFSA.

As for consumption of DHA and EPA in the diet, EFSA determined that European adults and children are falling well below these figures.

EFSA also recently published opinions on tolerable upper intake levels for vitamin D and calcium.