Dosage of Omega-3 Fats Required to Reduce High Blood Pressure Identified in JAMA Review
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA June 2022)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 7, 2022)
Over the years we have heard that omega-3 fats are good for the heart and cardiovascular system. Omega-3 fats are converted by the body into prostaglandin-series-3 hormones, which reduce the stickiness of our blood, helping to prevent the formation of abnormal blood clots. These mini hormones also help to relax blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily to our tissue and to our brain cells, and they reduce inflammation, which may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies over the years have also suggested that omega-3 fats may also help to reduce high blood pressure, but clinical trials have produced mixed findings. In June of 2022, after evaluating all available studies, researchers published a review paper in the journal of the American Medical Association indicating that a daily dosage of 3 gm per day of omega-3 fats is the dosage required to help reduce high blood pressure. Researchers analyzed the results of 71 clinical trials from around the world published from 1987 to 2020. The studies examined the relationship between blood pressure and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish and fish oil supplements in people aged 18 and older with or without high blood pressure or cholesterol disorders. There were nearly 5,000 participants in total, ranging in age from 22 to 86 years. Participants took dietary and/or prescription supplement sources of fatty acids for an average of 10 weeks.
The results showed the following:
- Compared to adults who did not consume EPA and DHA omega-3 fats those who consumed between 2 and 3 grams daily of combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in supplements, food, or both) had reduced systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by an average 2 mm Hg.
- Consuming more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily may have added blood pressure-lowering benefits for adults with high blood pressure or high blood lipid levels (cholesterol and/or triglycerides)
- At 3g a day of omega-3 fat intake, systolic blood pressure decreased by an average of 4.5 mm Hg for those with high blood pressure, and about 2 mm Hg on average for those who did not have high blood pressure.
- Ingesting more than 3 gm per day of omega-3 fats did not produce a blood pressure-lowering effect that was significantly better than ingesting 3 gm per day.
So, roughly 3 gm per day of omega-3 fats appears to be a good target dosage for those with high blood pressure, whereas for people with relatively normal blood pressure a daily dosage of 2-3 gm per day still appears to be beneficial to help prevent a rise in blood pressure as one ages. Although you can obtain 3 gm of omega-3 fats from consuming 4-5 gm of Atlantic salmon, in most of the studies participants ingested omega-3 fats from supplements. Common omega-3 fat supplements include fish oil, flaxseed oil, and certain algae supplements. Fish oil supplements contain the EPA and DHA omega-3 fats highlighted in this study, but other studies have shown that omega-3 fat ingested from flaxseed oil (ALA or alpha-linolenic acid) can also reduce high blood pressure. The same may be true for algae oil containing the ALA omega-3 fat. I personally take 2-3 capsules per day of a supplement that contains Fish, Flaxseed, and Borage seed oil, which provides the omega-3 benefits we are speaking about here as well as other anti-inflammatory effects from Borage seed oil.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
Main Reference: RefeXin Zhang, Jennifer A. Ritonja, Na Zhou, Bingshu E. Chen, Xinzhi Li. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Intake and Blood Pressure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2022; https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.121.025071
Flaxseed Oil References:
Hypertension Journal (2005) https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.HYP.0000154679.41568.e6
European Journal of Hypertension (2007) https://www.nature.com/articles/1602631.pdf
Ander BP, Weber AR, Rampersad PP, Gilchrist JS, Pierce GN, Lukas A. Dietary flaxseed protects against ventricular fibrillation induced by ischemiare perfusion in normal and hypercholesterolemic rabbits. J Nutr. 2004;134:3250–4. 3256. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
2010 Study – Nutrition and Cancer: Colon Cancer Study https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327914nc5101_8
2015 review of flaxseed in J 6. Food Sci and Technology highlighted the following (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375225/ )
Omega-3 Fat Index and Blood Pressure (J Hypertension 2018)
Borage Seed Oil References:
Fan Y-Y, Chapkin RS. Importance of dietary γ-linolenic acid in human health and nutrition. Journal of Nutrition. 1998;128(9):1411–1414. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9732298/
Zurier RB, Kremer JM, Basel BV. Switzerland. Gammalinolenic acid treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In: Kremer JM, editor. Medicinal Fatty Acids in Inflammation. 1998. pp. 29–43.
Belch JJF, Hill A. Evening primrose oil and borage oil in rheumatologic conditions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000;71(supplement 1):352S–356S. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10617996/
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.