Confused about the correct fish oil dosage? Lets talk about that.

One of the most common questions we see is about the correct fish oil dosage. Constantly we see the question “how much fish oil should I take”?

Good question. How much do you take? What about the recommended dosage for fish oil capsules for someone with preexisting heart disease, do they take more Omega 3 supplements?

The first place to look is the website of the American Heart Association. The recognize the heart benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids, and they deal with the question of what is the proper dosage of fish oil for both people with no preexisting heart problems, and for those who do have preexisting heart conditions.

Lets look at what they recommend.

Firstly though, lets consider the source of the fish oil. Now of course you could get your fish oil from eating fish. That’s fine, but be aware that there are some problems associated with this, (apart from the fact that fish is very expensive and it’s cheaper to buy fish oil supplements).

The first problem is that fish are generally contaminated with various toxins, and the FDA recommend limiting your intake of fish for this reason.

This doesn’t apply to the best fish oil supplements, they go through a rigorous process to ensure that they are free from contaminants. Note that not all fish oil supplements are free from contaminants.

The next problem is how much Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats you get from different types of fish. The level varies from one type of fish to another, and it’s hard to know what you need to eat to get enough. Generally speaking oily fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout, albacore tuna and salmon is better than non oily fish.

The AHA recommendations for people with no known heart health problems is for a minimum of 2 fish meals a week (of the right types of fish). Now of course as stated that doesn’t make it easy. What if you want to take quality fish oil capsules because fish is too expensive?
Fish Oil Dosage

The AHA recommendation also includes the statement that “evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that taking EPA+DHA ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 grams per day (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces deaths from heart disease and all causes.”

So as a general rule, for healthy people, around .5 to 1.8 grams of EPA and DHA a day from fish or fish oil supplements.

For those with existing heart problems the recommendation is as follows:

For those with documented Coronary Heart Disease: 1 gram of EPA and DHA a day. (Note that those with known heart health problems should consult a doctor before starting any supplements, in fact anyone should).

And for those seeking to lower triglycerides: 2 to 4 grams per day. Again, consult your doctor.

So there’s some more specific recommendations.  Now lets look at another source.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on 11th August 2009 the recommendations are at least 500 mg per day for those with no known cardio vascular issues, and 800 to 1000 mg per day for those with known pre existing heart disease problems, of EPA and DHA.

The next question is, what ratio of EPA to DHA? There isn’t yet sufficient science to tell us, it’s still being studied.

So what can we deduce from all that? We can deduce that, firstly, the fish oil dosage for heart disease patients is higher than for people with no known heart disease.

And we can conclude that the science is still out on the exact dosage of fish oil that everyone should be taking. But it’s getting there. The dosage recommendations above are relatively clear.

Around 500 mg (1/2 gram) minimum of EPA and DHA a day for healthy people, and around 1000 mg (1 gram) a day for known heart disease patients, perhaps double for lowering triglycerides.

The best fish oil supplements contain 280 mg of DHA and 120 mg of EPA per capsule.  (That’s more than double the normal amount of DHA in most “average” capsules). A total of 400mg of DHA and EPA.

So 2 capsules a day will give you 800 mg in total, around the level proposed by the AHA. And the recommended dosage, (taken from the label), for adults is 2 capsules a day.

The conclusion therefore is that if you use the best fish oil supplements and have no known preexisting heart problems, just follow the recommended dosages listed on the label. Other fish oil supplements may require you to take 4 or 5 or more capsules, depending on the quantity of Omega 3 fats in the capsules.

So if you’re wondering “how much fish oil should I take” we hope this gives you some guidelines. There are no formal exact guidelines, these things are still under study.

But taking the recommendations of the AHA as a basis, we can draw some conclusions about the recommended dosage for  fish oil supplements.

And those dosage conclusions correspond with the dosage recommendations of the best Omega 3 supplements money can buy. Take 2 capsules day for general heart health.

Update: As more and more scientific research is undertaken there is more confusion about the correct fish oil dosage for people with varying medical conditions. Different medical conditions may well require different dosages.

Some of the studies for specific conditions apply quite high dosages to the study subjects. This doesn’t mean that high dosages are required, just that it’s a way to find out what happens.

But the bottom line is always the same. If you are in any doubt about the correct dosage for you, either as a healthy individual, or someone with a medical condition, always consult your doctor. There are often complicating factors involved, such as medications you may be taking, and it’s essential that you tell your doctor you are considering fish oil supplements, and that gives your doctor an opportunity to consider how much fish oil to take, if any, in reference to your treatment.

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