DHA Recommendations Updated (A Bit)

A reader was questioning whether the amount of DHA I recommend is adequate. He sent me a list of studies on DHA supplementation in vegetarians, all of which I had previously read and were cited in my article, Omega-3 Fatty Acid Recommendations for Vegetarians. However, I had never actually taken the data from those studies to try to mathematically come up with an amount of DHA supplementation that would provide the same level of DHA in vegetarians as in omnivores. Instead, I had been taking more of an educated guess as to what might be a good supplementation level.

After doing the math, which you can see under the new section, DHA Supplementation in Vegetarians, it appears that supplementing with 300 mg per day will provide enough DHA to give your average vegetarian the same DHA levels as the average omnivore. A lot of vegans were included in that average, so I consider it a good approximation for both vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians.

In the past I have recommended 200-300 mg every 2-3 days for vegetarians under 60, and 200-300 mg every day for vegetarians 60 and over. Due to the fact that we don’t really know if vegetarians need higher DHA levels, and given the expense of DHA supplements, I still consider this amount to be a viable option as a bit of insurance.

I have modified my recommendations to provide both of these options so that people will know what it might take to have DHA levels the same as your average omnivore, but also what might provide some insurance without necessarily having levels as high as omnivores. Here is a link to the recommendations which have 3 steps (DHA supplements being only one of them): link.

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6 Responses to “DHA Recommendations Updated (A Bit)”

  1. dimqua Says:

    I usually use whole food sources of fats (basically nuts & seeds) instead of vegetable oils (though I don’t think that oils are harmful). Could this have a negative effect on my ability to convert omega-3s?

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I don’t know, but I doubt moderate amounts of nuts and seeds are going to significantly effect conversion rates. In any case, the benefits of nuts (especially) and seeds probably outweigh any harm caused by a (likely small) reduction in conversion.

  3. unethical_vegan Says:

    I think you confuse correlation with causation when it comes to DHA. There are plenty of metabolites that are lower in the serum of vegans that have nothing to do with human health. Can you please point me to any evidence that low serum levels of DHA causes an actual “deficiency”?

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:


    I don’t suspect this will satisfy you, but here you go: http://jacknorrisrd.com/dha-recommendations-follow-up/

  5. dimqua Says:

    Thanks for the reply, I am of the same view point. But why you think that nuts are more beneficial than seeds?

  6. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > But why you think that nuts are more beneficial than seeds?

    I don’t recall seeing any research that tested seeds.

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