How much fish oil should go into my diet?

Natasha Turner, ND
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

I recommend that all my patients take 2-3 capsules (or one tsp) twice daily with meals. Some tips on selecting a fish oil: Each fish oil capsule is approximately 900-1000 mg. The amount of EPA and DHA can vary quite a bit according to the brand, but a good rule of thumb is to add the DHA + EPA and ensure it equals half, or more than half, of the content of the capsule. For example, in a 980 mg capsule, EPA + DHA may equal 500 mg in total. Depending on the situation, you may also opt for a different ratio of EPA to DHA. If your goal is to reduce acute inflammation (such as post-surgery), you may choose a capsule that is higher in EPA, whereas if mood/brain health is your goal (such as during pregnancy), you should select a capsule that is higher in DHA. These are often available in a 6:1 ratio.

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine
The benefits of omega-3s for heart health, mental well-being, pain, and more make fish oil seem like a clear, natural choice. With fish oil being so important, I recommend people get at least 3-4 servings of salmon, tuna, sardines, herring or mackerel weekly.

If you find that getting the fish oil you need through meal planning is difficult to do, adding a supplement is a great alternative. Unfortunately, this can lead to taking a lot of pills (often 10-12 a day,) which is both obnoxious and expensive. In addition, there is some concern over mercury and other contamination that may be present in some fish oil supplements and many (if not most) brands are simply rancid (a major cause of fish burps.)

Fish oil has many benefits to your health, so it's important that you not overlook including it regularly in your diet. Consider the tradeoffs of getting your fish oil from foods versus supplementation, and make an informed choice of which way to go -- either way will be a smart decision.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.