Understanding Fish Oil Dosages


Fish oil supplements are not regulated in the same way as medications. They come more under the “food” umbrella than medicine. Supplements don't require prescriptions either. All the same, that doesn't mean they're safe to take in any amounts as and when you feel like it. For example, some supplement might have a negative interaction with various prescription drugs. They might not too, but the point is to err on the side of caution. It's always a good idea to talk with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist before your start taking fish oil (FO) supplements.

Another question that comes up quite a lot is that of dosage. There seems to be contradictions on how much is too little and what is considered as too much. In the video below, Dr. Barry Sears explains dosage.

Dosage Vs Serving Size

Because FO supplements are classed as food, not medicine, the labels will often refer to “serving size” not “dose.” Still, most people tend to focus on the dosage. They may look at 1000mg or 12000mg per day, but it's better if you look at the omega-3s (EPA and DHA). These are the omega-3s found naturally in oily fish like salmon and halibut to name but two.

How Much EPA / DHA Do You Need

If you were to get your EPA and DHA from oily fish, the recommendation is two servings each week for healthy men and women. This roughly equates to a daily total of 500mg of EPA and DHA. The problem with eating fish is that it's become a polluted food source, no thanks to the filthy oceans man has created. Any contaminants the fish pick up get passed on to us when we consume the food. Aside from this, fish has declined in popularity a lot in recent years too. It's for these reasons that most people opt to get their omega-3 fats from a quality supplement source.

For Cardiovascular Health

Anyone who takes fish oil supplements for cardiovascular health, the suggestion is to take a single 1000mg soft gel supplement daily. That provides around 300mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA. This amount of EPA and DHA is the equivalent of omega-3s gained from two servings of oily fish each week.

Further Reading of Interest:

Fish oil: Friend or Foe?

Posted July 12, 2013, 12:50 pm , Updated November 13, 2015, 3:28 pm
Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications

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