Categories: Dose

How Much Omega-3 Fish Oil A Day Will Produce Results?

Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD
July 10, 2019

Taking fish oil? Are you noticing results?

When it comes to feeling the benefits of any omega-3 supplement, getting an effective dose of the right kinds of fatty acids is crucial.

Grab your supplement (if you’re taking one) and keep reading to discover whether your fish oil is potent enough to make a difference for you.

How Many Types of Omega-3s Are There?

Look for supplements that contain high levels of two specific fatty acids — EPA and DHA — per serving.

When we talk about the power of omega-3 fatty acids, the entire omega-3 family tends to get lumped into the same category. Sorry folks: Not all omega-3 molecules function the same way, and some are more effective than others.

The term “omega-3” is actually an old-fashioned classification referring to a whole family of omega-3 fatty acids. The main workhorses of this family are EPA and DHA, two long-chain fatty acids that (among other functions) promote the exchange of nutrients across the cell membrane and control the body’s inflammatory response.

For the last 40 years, scientists have extensively researched the effects of EPA and DHA on everything from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to positively impacting mood disorders, cancers, joint problems, and dry eyes. Newer studies are also looking at how these fatty acids influence our gut bacteria.

How Do I Get Enough EPA and DHA?

EPA and DHA are found almost exclusively in fresh fish and fish oil. Certain plants sources – like walnuts and chia seeds – contain a shorter-chained omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. While our body has enzymes that convert ALA into EPA (and to some extent DHA), this conversion rate is so low that most scientists consider it inconsequential. This is why the strength of an omega-3 supplement is typically measured by the amount of EPA and DHA alone.

The Benefits of Fish Oil Are Dose Dependent

Taking one or two fish oil capsules per day typically doesn’t cut it. Here’s why:

If you read the omega-3 literature, you’ll often see scientists referring to EPA and DHA as having a dose dependent effect. This means that the effects of these fatty acids are related to the amount consumed.

People often think that getting a little bit of omega-3 is better than nothing at all. Unfortunately, current research does not substantiate this. Clinical studies frequently demonstrate that a certain threshold dose must be met for the supplement to make a difference – and this dose is typically much greater than the recommended amount on fish oil supplement labels.

One of biggest misconceptions with taking fish oil is the dose necessary to produce results. In this video, Dr. Bo Martinsen explains why taking one or two fish oil capsules rarely provides enough omega-3s. 

What Omega-3 Clinical Studies Reveal

– For anxiety, a recent meta-analysis showed significant clinical benefits for doses greater than 2000 mg EPA/DHA daily (but not at doses below that mark).

– In reviews focusing on the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s, researchers similarly find that it typically takes more than 2000 mg EPA/DHA to demonstrate effects at the cellular level.

– Studies examining the benefits of omega-3s on lowering triglyceride levels frequently cite doses between 3000 mg – 3500 mg. Similar doses are also used for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

– Doses that cancer patients use in conjunction with radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are often even higher.

Doses Recommended by Omega3 Innovations

Here at Omega3 Innovations, we regularly see this “dose response effect” in action. Customers frequently share that they notice a significant difference for their aching joints or itchy eyes when they increase their dose from 2000 mg to 3000 mg EPA/DHA daily.

Over the last 10 years, the combination of overwhelming anecdotal feedback and clinical research has led us to recommend 3000 mg EPA/DHA daily for most adults using our products.

One vial of Omega Cure Extra Strength contains 3000 mg EPA/DHA and can be taken with other foods or enjoyed straight. Photo credit: Bowl Obsessed.

Are You Getting Enough Omega-3s?

Most Americans are omega-3 deficient, including the ones taking traditional fish oil supplements.

The amount of omega-3 that a person needs will vary depending on a number of factors, including diet, genetics, lifestyle, age, body weight, health condition, and the bioavailability of the omega-3 product. (And today, most of us can also assess our individual needs by taking a quick and easy blood test).

One thing is certain, however: Most of us need more omega-3s than we think we do.

An estimated 95% of Americans do not have optimal omega-3 levels. And even amongst omega-3 supplement users, only 19% of people achieve adequate omega-3 index scores, according to some surveys.

Most Omega-3 Supplements Contain Low Levels of EPA/DHA

Part of this reason revolves around supplements containing deceptively low omega-3 doses. Many fish oil capsules advertise that they contain 1000 mg of fish oil. However, since natural fish oils typically contain just 30% EPA and DHA combined, that means you’ll only get 300 mg of EPA/DHA per capsule.

At that dose, you would need to swallow 7 regular fish oil capsules just to cross the 2000 mg EPA/DHA threshold.

How Does Your Fish Oil Supplement Stack Up?

The best way to discover how much omega-3 is available in your fish oil supplement is to look at the EPA and DHA levels listed in the supplement facts. If you don’t have your omega-3 product handy, we’ve done the work for you by calculating out the number of servings necessary to get 2000-3000 mg EPA/DHA for typical supplement categories. Keep in mind that specific products will vary depending on the brand, source, and the freshness level of the oil.

*Level of EPA/DHA depends on the species, time of year, how the fish is prepared, whether it was farm raised or wild caught, etc.

If you can’t imagine swallowing all those fish oil pills, you’re not alone. That’s why alternatives to capsules – like liquid fish oil – exist. For instance, Omega Cure® Extra Strength delivers 3000 mg of EPA/DHA in pre-measured, single-dose vials and has no fishy taste or smell. Similarly, Omega Cookie® delivers 2000 mg of EPA/DHA (plus prebiotics in the form of beta glucan fibers).

Increasing your intake of fatty fish is another great way to get enough EPA and DHA omega-3s. If you go down that route, pay attention to the fish species and whether it’s wild caught or farm raised. Also pay attention to how you prepare your fish so you don’t lose the majority of omega-3s during the cooking process.

Can I Take Too Much Fish Oil?

Most people around the world – especially in the USA – get far too little omega-3. If you happen to go on an omega-3 binge, however, the European Food Safety Authority has concluded that consuming up to 5000 mg of omega-3s daily is safe.

Dose Isn’t the Only Thing That Matters

How a fish oil is processed and its freshness level at the time of purchase will also influence results.

While dose is one of the most important elements in making an omega-3 regimen work, you also have to be concerned about the quality of your supplement.

How Fresh Is Your Fish Oil?

Freshness greatly impacts an omega-3 product’s potency and safety profile. Unfortunately, rancid omega-3 oil is rampant, with multiple independent studies showing that many omega-3 products exceed industry freshness standards at the time of purchase.

As an omega-3 supplement oxidizes, the amount of EPA and DHA in the oil decreases, meaning that you’re likely getting far less omega-3 than the labels suggests.

More concerning are the damaging effects that rancid oil can have on your body. Recent studies have determined that oxidized fish oil has a negative impact on cholesterol levels and increases the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and poor health outcomes during pregnancy.

In the world of fish oil, peroxide values measure an oil’s freshness level. Generally speaking, the lower the peroxide value, the fresher the oil is. 

Is Your Fish Oil Full-Spectrum?

It’s also important to consider the fatty acid composition of the oil. Natural fish oils contain a cocktail of fatty acids (including omega-3, 6, 7, 9, and 11) and at least 9 different types of named omega-3s. While EPA and DHA may be considered the two most potent fatty acids, all of these other molecules work in synergy with EPA and DHA to influence our health and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, many omega-3 products are chemically manipulated in ways that distort this delicate fatty acid balance through winterization and/or concentration. Just like drinking filtered orange juice is nowhere near as healthy as eating a fresh orange, research indicates that the more an omega-3 oil is processed, the less potent and bioavailable it becomes. This is why it’s important to look for omega-3 products that are non-winterized (full-spectrum) and minimally processed.

Feel the Difference with Omega3 Innovations

We do omega-3s differently so that our customers can experience meaningful benefits.

Once you begin taking a potent omega-3 product every day, noteworthy results can start to happen. But, it’s also important to keep in mind that increasing your intake of omega-3s is not a quick fix. It can take up to 3 months to saturate your cells with these beneficial fatty acids.

Here at Omega3 Innovations, we’re dedicated to making products that help our customers feel a marked difference, which is why we created Omega Cure Extra Strength. Each pre-measured vial contains 3000 mg EPA/DHA so you never have to second guess whether you’re getting an effective daily dose. And thanks to our exceptional freshness levels, none of our products have a fishy taste or smell.

As we like to say in Norway, ‘Skål!’ (That means “cheers to your health).

An Effective Omega-3 Dose, Made Simple

Get 3000 mg EPA/DHA per serving.

Learn More


Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD

Born and raised in the United States, Dr. Chalmers graduated from Brown University and completed her medical training at the University of Oslo in Norway. Dr. Chalmers practiced medicine for many years, serving both at high-tech hospitals and as a community health worker in rural Norway. Together with Dr. Martinsen, she later co-founded Wellpride LLLP dba Omega3 Innovations and is the joint holder of several patents that facilitate the ingestion of multiple medication combinations. Today, she serves as the president of Omega3 Innovations.

View Comments

  • According to the table provided in this web page, one teaspoon of liquid cod liver oil contains ~ 1000 mg of EPA/DHA. Is it safe to conclude that one can take 7 to 10 capsules of 300 mg cod liver oil (for example, 7 Seas Cod Liver Oil 300mg or Seacod brand 300 mg) as a dietary supplement to achieve daily intake of 2000 – 3000mg Dosage?

    Although in India, brands like 7 Seas & Seacod recommends 1-2 capsules of 300 mg thrice a day, most brands in the UK and elsewhere recommends one 1000 mg cod liver capsule per day. I am worried if it is overdose for an adult to take 2 capsules of 300 mg cod liver oil thrice a day. Can you please throw some light on this please?

    • Hi Shivashankara,

      There are few health issues associated with taking fresh fish oil. Studies routinely use large doses without documenting any negative effects, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that consuming up to 5000 mg of EPA/DHA per day is safe.

      We aren't in a position to comment on the quality and freshness level of your brand. But in general, the reason omega-3 brands typically recommend just 1 - 2 capsules daily is not because there is harm in taking more, but because that is the dose most people are willing to swallow. You do, however, want to make sure that the product you are taking is fresh because if it is not, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. For more on that, we recommend reading this article:

  • Hi there, I currently take Icelandic cod liver oil in liquid form as you have recommend here. The current brand I use (Im in the UK) provides 920mg of EFA/DHA per teaspoon. However, it also provides 800ug (micro grams) of vitamin A per teaspoon. According to your information here I would need 3 teaspoons per day to see the anti-inflammatory response. However, this would be providing me with 3 times the recommended daily dose of vitamin A (4 times if I include my multivitamin). I am concerned about toxicity from vitamin A and D overdose although the internet is awash with different values.

    Can you please advise how someone can get the benefits of cod liver oil without risking toxicity?

    • Hi Nicolas, It is true that unpurified cod liver oils contain high values of vitamin A. But the amount of vitamin A in a cod liver oil brand will vary significantly, depending on if the oil was purified, the purification techniques used, and if vitamin A was added to the oil by the manufacturer.

      For instance, our Omega Cure, which is a uniquely fresh, full-spectrum cod liver oil, contains limited amounts of vitamin A because of how it has been purified. At the moment, our oil is not available in the UK, but if you are unhappy with the amount of vitamin A in your current brand, you might consider exploring other omega-3 options.

  • This is not comment but a question. On the bottle of fish oil capsule it is written for better health from 3 to 12 capsule daily with food. in the bottle there are 200 capsule. But for how long one should take these capsule. Is this for whole life, or is this for winter season only or is it one bottle once a year. on the bottle this literature is not clear. I am living in Pakistan, here even doctors have no clear concept. Please inform me about the correct doze daily and for how many weeks.

    • Hi Nisar, This is a tough question to answer because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, to answer you generally, most people need to be conscious about their omega-3 intake throughout their life. This is particularly true if you eat a typical Western diet heavy in processed foods and low in fish. That being said, you also need to be concerned about the quality of your omega-3 supplement if you continue consuming capsules. Please read: Is Your Fish Oil Rancid?

  • Hi ,
    can u suggest me whether my 6o years old father can have the omega 3 fish oil capsule or not ?
    If yes then what is the recommended serving size ?

    • We generally recommend that people seek out a fresh liquid omega-3 oil, like Omega Cure, instead of capsules. Liquids are easier to swallow and they make it easier to get an effective daily dose. In addition, Omega Cure is much fresher than the oil you find in regular fish oil capsules. However, for specific recommendations for your father, we advise you to contact a medical professional who can evaluate him in person.

    • Hi Ileana,

      Yes, every batch of Omega Cure is purified to remove mercury and other pollutants. After the purification process, it is third-party evaluated in Norway to ensure the oil meets all government and industry standards for contaminants.

  • Hi there! Informative article, but my doubt is that I am consuming a product of Omega 3 1000 mg capsules (2 per day) which contains around 330 mg of EPA and 220 mg of DHA. How many capsules can i take per day actually? Or is this dose Sufficient to cure skin diseases?

    • As we discuss in the article, to impact any kind of inflammatory issue, studies indicate that it typically takes a dose of around 2000 - 3000 mg of EPA/DHA per day to see results. That would be about 4 - 6 capsules of your current product daily, given the dosage you described.

      That being said, we can't tell you that swallowing 4 - 6 capsules of your current supplement is going to be effective. As the article also mentions, whether the oil is fresh and full-spectrum will impact results. And additionally, the type of skin disease and individual differences will also play a role.

  • Hi. How much Omega 3 to take to raise my HDL level ? The total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL level are OK. Only the HDL is low 35 mg/dl.

    • Hi Robert! While the triglyceride-lowering benefits of omega-3 supplements have been well documented, the data is less consistent with regards to LDL and HDL levels. Likely, this means that other factors, like the freshness level and the fatty acid composition of the supplement, will have a stronger impact on the results.

      That being said, when we survey some of the research on omega-3 supplements and HDL levels, studies have reported modest increases when using doses ranging from 2000 - 4500 mg of EPA/DHA. Most of the studies are in the 4000 mg range.

  • I’m intrigued with the idea of adequate intake without the pill fatigue, I’ve taken fish oil for years( Life Extension) 4 soft gels yielding 2520 mg EPA and DHA. There’s also sesame lignans, olive extract, krill and astaxanthin. I routinely check my blood levels and found the dosage to be adequate. I have complete faith in the integrity of the life extension products. My daily supplement intake is too extensive to list here. As I mentioned earlier, pill fatigue is wearing me out. Might try you product.

    • Hello Dr. Spears! Yes, pill fatigue can be a big issue for many people, so that's a wonderful point to bring up here.

      It's great to hear that you measure your omega-3 index regularly too. It's important to assess that what we're doing is working well for us. Let us know if you have any further questions.

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