Numerous organizations and national health agencies have begun to recommend consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (FAs) eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA), respectively, in pill or fish form for general cardiovascular health.

The purpose of this article is to present a rationale for an official target intake of 400 to 500 mg/d of EPA + DHA in the United States.

Six epidemiologic studies reporting EPA + DHA intake and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) death have been conducted in the United States, and five studies reported statistically significant inverse trends. Meta-analysis of these data showed a significant dose-response relationship between risk for CHD death and intake (P = 0.03), with relative risk reductions of 37% at an average EPA + DHA intake of 566 mg/d.

Coincidentally, two servings per week of oily fish (the current American Heart Association recommendation) would provide 400 to 500 mg/d.

We conclude, therefore, that an intake of 400 to 500 mg/d of EPA + DHA is achievable by diet alone and would be expected to significantly reduce risk for death from CHD in healthy adults.