Categories: Dose

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

By Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD
1 year ago

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

  • 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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

  • 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  • 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

        • Absolutely, we have a lot of families who buy Omega Cure for their children who are on the autism spectrum. There are a good number of studies suggesting omega-3 helps reduce impulsiveness and even helps improve verbal skills.

          For more information, you might be interested in taking a look at the following resource page about special needs:
          http://www.omega3innovations.com/special-needs/

          You might also want to take a look at the following story from one of our customers who has a son with ADHD:
          http://www.omega3innovations.com/omega3-innovations-customer-testimonials/

          For children on the spectrum, many of them find that taking unflavored Omega Cure is best - especially if they have food sensitivities. The unflavored Omega Cure has no taste or smell, so you can add it to yoghurts, smoothies, or juices if your child doesn't like the oily texture.

          Please let us know if you have any more questions and we're happy to help!

  • 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.tastyfishoil.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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Thank you so much for your fantastic articles, Can you please advice me on how many tablets of omega-3 should I consume per day?

    • We're glad you liked the article. The number of capsules you need depends on the amount of EPA/DHA found in your specific capsule brand. Most people need between 2000 - 3000 mg of EPA/DHA every day. Your capsule should specify not just how much omega-3 it contains, but also how much EPA/DHA the product gives you.

      However, if we were going to give you a true recommendation, we would suggest choosing a liquid cod liver oil product, as opposed to capsules. Two to three teaspoons will provide a higher dose, you will avoid ingesting all that gelatin, and you will get a much fresher product than you could ever find in a capsule. A truly fresh fish oil, like Omega Cure, does not have any fishy taste or smell, making it quite palatable to drink. We hope that helps answer your question! If you have others, don't hesitate to let us know!

  • I had read that a recent study reported a correlation between fish oil supplementation and increased risk of prostate cancer. Is this something I should be concerned about?

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for writing! We understand the concern regarding the increased risk of prostate cancer. The media provided some alarming coverage of that study last year.

      Unfortunately, the mainstream media never covered the scientific community's follow-up discussion of the study, which is too bad because most scientists regarded the conclusion as quite flawed. The study in question never documented whether the men took omega-3 supplements - just the amount of omega-3 in the blood stream. As Dr. Harris, one of the world's leading omega-3 specialists wrote in a follow-up article, the study participants' omega-3 index was so low that it is unlikely the men in the trial even consumed fish oil supplements. In fact, the difference between the men consuming the greatest amount of omega-3 and the least amount of omega-3 in the trial might have been as little as two fish meals a week.

      Furthermore, the study's results contradict many other studies that suggest omega-3 has a positive impact on preventing cancer and improving the results of cancer treatments, like chemotherapy.

      In the weeks following the release of the study, we put together an Omega-3 and Prostate Cancer Resource Guide for our customers. If you would like to read more about the issue, here it is:

      http://www.omega3innovations.com/index.php/science-articles/omega3-and-prostate-cancer-resource-guide/?___store=default

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