How Much Omega-3 Fish Oil Daily Will Produce Results?

How much fish oil should I take?

Most omega-3 consumers follow the instructions on their supplement label and take just one or two fish oil capsules a day, thinking that is enough.

But, in many cases, getting an effective dose of omega-3 – the kind of dose that provides the health benefits reported in thousands of research studies – requires significantly more capsules a day.

Consider the Amount of EPA/DHA

The labels of omega-3 brands often recommend a wide variety of dosages because different products contain different amounts of EPA and DHA.

“I was told to take 1000mg of fish oil every day,” we often hear customers say. What health care providers and customers alike need to understand is that 1000mg of natural fish oil only contains one-third of the powerful workhorses of the omega-3 family – the EPA and DHA.

Why is it necessary to look at the levels of EPA and DHA? Because in the 1970s, when two Danish researchers went to Greenland to find out why the Inuits had such low levels of cardiovascular disease (in spite of the fact that over 40% of their total caloric intake was made up of fat), they discovered that the two most abundant molecules behind this fat paradox were polyunsaturated fatty acids: EPA and DHA.

Therefore, the majority of the medical research has focused on EPA and DHA, even though they are not the sole members of the omega-3 family. Later research then found that these fatty acids were not only important for good cardiovascular health, but also for brain, eye, mood, and joint health.

The efficacy level from many of these studies is set between two and three grams (2000-3000mg) per day. Again, remember that we are talking about EPA and DHA, not just fish oil. In fact, the anti-inflammatory reaction of EPA doesn’t seem to kick in unless you consume at least 2000mg each day.

Salmon dinner

To get as much effective omega-3 as you would from eating a salmon fillet for dinner, you’d have to consume a minimum of 10 fish oil capsules!

The Standard EPA/DHA Equivalents

While you have to check the back of the label to figure out the exact values of EPA/DHA in your omega-3 supplement, we’ve done some the math for you by looking at common omega-3 products. Here’s what we found:

  • One regular fish oil capsule – Around 300mg of EPA/DHA
  • One capsules of krill oil  – Around 75mg of EPA/DHA
  • One teaspoon of liquid fish oil  – 1200 mg of EPA/DHA
  • One high concentrate fish oil capsule – Up to 600mg EPA/DHA.
  • A normal-size serving of salmon fillet – Up to 3000mg EPA/DHA (depending on the time of year,  how it is prepared and where it is coming from, etc)

If you look closely at this table, a few facts should jump out. First and foremost, one teaspoon of liquid fish oil contains about four times as much EPA/DHA as one fish oil capsule. And, more shockingly, to get as much omega-3 as you would from eating a salmon fillet for dinner, you’d have to consume a minimum of 10 fish oil capsules! In other words, taking one capsule doesn’t give you much more than a bite or two of salmon. That’s hardly enough!

Can I get too much?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that consuming up to 5000mg of omega-3 is safe. Taking more than 5000mg (about 5 teaspoons worth of fish oil) doesn’t give any added benefits, so why use more than that?

Consider the Quality of the Oil

While it is important to look at the amount of EPA and DHA on the back of your label, fixating on those fatty acids alone may be short sighted.

When manufacturers artificially pump up the EPA or DHA to make high concentrated capsules, they are unfortunately also creating trans fats and other unhealthy by-products in addition. A research study from Norway found that high-concentrated omega-3 fish oil products had statistically higher oxidation levels than omega-3 fish oils with normal concentration levels. These high-concentrated oils tended to have more of the unhealthy by-products that come with higher oxidation levels.

To learn more about the importance of low oxidation levels, freshness, and high-concentrate fish oils, check out our revealing whitepaper,  “The Rancid Truth About Fish Oil.”

Get the Facts on Freshness, Omega-3 and Your Health. Read the Rancid Truth about Omega-3 Fish Oil.

Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD

Dr. Chalmers is the co-founder and president of Omega3 Innovations, the fresh fish oil company. Born and raised in the United States, Dr. Chalmers graduated from Interlochen School for the Gifted and Brown University. She completed her medical training at the University of Oslo in Norway. Dr. Chalmers has practiced emergency, family, and preventive medicine for many years, serving both at high-tech hospitals and as a barefoot doctor in rural Norway. Her research and development work has included nutraceuticals (especially omega-3) and medical delivery device systems to facilitate ingestion of multiple medication combinations.

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16 Responses

  1. janeann1000@yahoo.com' Jane Tarbell says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to people like me who travel. I can’t wait for,the new travel vials to be introduced. How long is the shelf life? Am I right in assuming that they do not have to be refrigerated? Will the green tea be counterproductive to people who cannot ingest caffeine products?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jane, So happy to hear you are excited about Omega Cure Extra Strength! To answer your questions, we are still testing the shelf life of the vials, and will report back when we have more data. However, our goal is to have them be stable at room temperature for up to one month.

      As for the green tea, the vials will only contain very small amounts of caffeine, so it won’t be noticeable for most people. However, we will also be offering vials that feature just regular Omega Cure (without the green tea addition). This way, if there should be a problem, our customers have an alternative.

  2. tatumirage@charter.net' Earl PeQueen says:

    For treatment of dry eyes,how much omega-3? How long to see a beneficial change in dry eyes?

    • admin says:

      For treating dry eyes, if you take 15 ml of a fresh omega-3 fish oil consistently every day (that’s 3000 mg of EPA/DHA), you could see results within 4 to 6 weeks (and sometimes faster). If you are interested in learning more, check out our video blog on how soon you can expect to see results from taking Omega Cure: http://youtu.be/gxt7jr-iKsQ

  3. ddhall72@gmail.com' Donnie Hall says:

    I take Vitamin Shoppe Omega 3. 600 EPA/240 DHA. Total is 1200 mg per capsule. I take 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. Is this enough? My numbers have slightly increased but I was hoping for better results. I am 6’2 and weigh 250. My bp is perfect but my good cholesterol is lower and I need to raise it. Just started a better diet and been in the gym 5 out of 7 days starting a month ago. Should I take more?

    • admin says:

      Hi Donnie! How wonderful to hear that you are working out and improving your diet. Those two things alone will make an enormous difference for your lipid profile, so keep going!

      To answer your question, it sounds as though you are taking a high enough dose of EPA/DHA. If you have been taking this dosage for the last three months and your numbers aren’t changing, I would examine the quality of your omega-3 product. Since you are taking capsules, it’s highly likely that the oil inside the capsules is rancid. The rancidity factor could explain why you are not experiencing the full benefits of the omega-3. To see if the capsules are rancid or not, I would open them up and taste and smell the oil inside. If it’s foul, let it go. For more information about how to assess the quality of your omega-3 product, look here.

      Since your capsules contain 600 mg EPA/240 mg DHA, it also sounds like you are consuming a fish oil product that has artificially high levels of EPA/DHA. We recommend taking a full-spectrum fish oil because it contains all the nutrients of the omega-3 family in the proper ratios. If you are interested, you can read more about full-spectrum fish oil here.

      Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any more questions.

  4. drkhonee@gmail.com' Cindy says:

    Me and my 8yr old daughter are desperately trying to lose weight. Is it safe to give her fish oil..

    • admin says:

      Hi Cindy! Fish oil is indeed safe for both you and your daughter to consume. The FDA has labeled fish oil as a GRAS food (Generally Recognized as Safe), and in Norway, the government recommends infants consume one teaspoon of fish oil starting at the age of one. As long as you consume a fish oil that is fresh and that is purified (which most high quality fish oils are), then you should both benefit.

      Now, while fish oil is not a weight loss cure, it does play a powerful role in promoting weight management. However, the benefits will be greatly improved when coupled with exercise and other nutritious foods, such as whole oats. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions.

  5. Candynicole848@yahoo.com' Nicole says:

    Hi, I just brought Nature Made fish oil for the first time and mine is 1000mg-300mg Omega 3. I’m not really sure how to read the EPA or DHA amount on the back of the bottle b/c this is my first time buying them, but it says it has 600 mg total of Omega 3 fatty acid & 500mg of EPA and DHA. How any pills would I need to take per day to help out with depression & anxiety? And also to see for an improvement my skin and hair? Thanks

    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for writing! Determining the amount of EPA/DHA in your omega-3 supplement can be tricky, so we’re glad you asked. In a natural (not chemically modified fish oil), the EPA/DHA makes up between 20 to 30 percent of the oil. If you are taking 1000 mg of fish oil, you will get roughly 300 mg of EPA/DHA in that dose.

      If it’s a chemically modified omega-3 product, you might get a higher amount of EPA/DHA per capsule. But the EPA/DHA dose would come at the expense of the other types of omega-3 nutrients and co-factors, which are also important for achieving health benefits (check out this blog on full-spectrum fish oil for more information). Does your supplement specify the total amount of fish oil per capsule? We’d need a little more information to help you out with reading the label.

      To get clinical effects for mood and inflammation, people typically need more than 2000 mg EPA/DHA per day. It is very important that the oil is not oxidized (rancid) because if it is, it will contain toxic by-products in addition to having low potency. To check for rancidity, cut your capsule open, then smell and taste the oil. Fresh fish oil should have no fishy taste or smell.

      We hope that helps! Please let us know if you have more questions.

      All the best,
      The Omega3 Innovations Team

  6. lockerush@verizon.net' locke rush says:

    You don’t mention Krill oil which is what I am taking – How do you compare it with fish oil? Thanks – Locke

    • Hi Locke, thank you for your question! We wrote a piece on krill oil a few years ago that you might be interested in reading: http://www.omega3innovations.com/blog/krill-oil-new-superfood-or-expensive-hype/. We would like to write a follow up blog, however, since the krill oil industry has expanded and we know more about it today. We’ll keep you updated there.

      In brief, our main concern with krill oil is dose and rancidity. The average krill oil capsule contains under 100 mg of combined EPA/DHA – a far cry from the 3000 mg of EPA/DHA found in a salmon dinner and the amount used in research studies on omega-3 and inflammation. A recent study showed consumers achieved no benefits from krill oil when taking the label recommended dose. Other studies comparing fish oil to krill oil show both types of supplements achieve the same effect for the same dose – but krill oil still costs 5 to 10 times more.

      Besides having a low dose, krill oil is also notoriously rancid, which may compromise the effectiveness of the oil (please see our other blog on this subject).

      Omega Cure is the only fresh, full-spectrum fish oil in the world, and when you look at the cost per mg of EPA/DHA, it is a bargain compared to krill oil. We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any more questions!

  7. Lmartin1952@hotmail.co.uk' Lindsey says:

    Hi I have severe dry eyes and wanted to try out some omega 3 I also don’t eat a lot of fish because I don’t really like it. What would you recommend? Capsules or tea spoon of fish oil? Also what dose? And do you think it would help my dry eyes? And how long would it take to see results thank you

    • Hi Lindsey! If you have dry eyes, it’s good to hear you are looking to learn more about omega-3 fish oil. There are a number of research studies indicating that omega-3 can make a big difference towards relieving dry eyes (see for instance this study on the subject: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24190233).

      To answer your question, we recommend you take 3 teaspoons of Omega Cure every day. Three teaspoons of Omega Cure provides a safe and solid dose (equivalent to 12 regular capsules) of the only fresh, full-spectrum fish oil in the world. Freshness is crucial for obtaining good results, but unfortunately, encapsulating fish oil seems to make the oil rancid. A truly fresh liquid fish oil has no taste or smell and can easily be added to juices or yogurt. You should start seeing results over the course of about 8-12 weeks if you take the oil consistently.

      Let us know how you do and if you have more questions!

  8. cbaxter@dacbeachcroft.com' Carol says:

    Hi, I have high cholestorl and high blood pressure. Dont want to take statins. How much should I take to lower the cholestrol. I also take soy lecithin. thanks.

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