If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your heart, brain, and eye health, one way to do just that is to make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. You may have heard that including more fatty fish in your diet is a good way to increase your intake of omega-3. However, many people may struggle to eat enough fish on a regular basis to reap the most benefits. One simple way to incorporate more omega 3s into your diet is to try a natural omega-3, or fish oil, supplement. You may have been using fish oil for a while or are just trying it out. Either way, you may be wondering how much omega-3 fish oil to take per day. Read on for our tips on using an omega-3 fish oil supplement.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Before we begin talking about how much omega-3 fish oil you should take daily, let’s look at what an omega-3 fatty acid actually is. Not all fats were created equal. Some of them, sometimes referred to as ‘healthy fats’ can have a beneficial impact on our health and wellness. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of these healthy fats and are a type of polyunsaturated fat.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids. These are docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, which are both found in fish, especially oily fish like salmon. These are both long-chain fatty acids. Then there’s also ALA, the kind found in plant-based foods like walnuts. ALA differs from the other two types because your body has to convert it into DHA or EPA to be able to use it as something other than energy. However, the conversion rate during this process is fairly low. Because of this, one of the most practical ways to increase the amount of EPA and DHA in your body is either through food or by taking a supplement.
What are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids?
A regular intake of omega-3s has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Some benefits of these polyunsaturated fats are that they may:
- Support brain health
- Ease joint discomfort and stiffness
- Promote heart health by having a beneficial impact on blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Be beneficial for eye health, particularly issues with dryness
Omega-3 Deficiency Symptoms
It’s important to make that you get enough omega-3s. Some potential symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency can include:
- Skin issues such as irritation or dryness
- Changes in mood
- Eye dryness
- Joint discomfort
- Hair that feels dry or brittle
How much omega-3 per day do we really need?
There are not currently any official recommendations regarding the recommended doses of fish oil per day. Some organizations such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, have released their own recommendations. Generally, the amounts in these recommendations fluctuate. Both of these organizations recommend a minimum daily intake of about 250 mg to 500 mg of omega-3s, with both EPA and DHA combined (1,2). This amount may also depend on factors such as age, gender, and weight, and may also be higher for those with specific health issues. If you are not meeting this minimum daily intake, a supplement could be useful for you.
What omega-3 fish oil dosage will have a noticeable benefit on your health?
The amount of omega-3 that will have a noticeable impact on your health may depend on a number of things. Age, gender, weight, and general health can all affect how beneficial omega-3 will be for every individual. For example, generally healthy adults who are simply looking to maintain their health may only require the minimum daily recommended dose. Others with specific issues, such as heart issues, may need to look into taking higher doses. In these cases, it’s probably best to get medical advice from your doctor about what dose would be appropriate for you.
How long will I need to take Omega 3 before I see a difference in my health?
Like with most supplements, finding a quick fix for any issue is pretty rare. Instead, being consistent over a long period of time is more likely to have an impact. Taking one dose here and there is usually less effective than daily or regular use. Similarly, short-term use is less likely to produce noticeable results in comparison to prolonged use. The time it takes to notice a difference may vary from individual to individual. Some people may notice a small change after only one month, while others may only feel the effects after several months of consistent use.
What is the recommended daily dose of Omega-3?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests in their Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that adults consume at least 8 ounces of fish per week. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and contain plenty of EPA and DHA. However, some people might find this target hard to meet. If that sounds like you, a fish oil supplement may be a good way for you to meet the recommended intake of EPA and DHA per day. The amount of EPA and DHA in fish oil supplements will vary depending on the producer. At the moment, there are no official recommendations for the amount of omega-3 an adult should consume per day. But, it may be a good idea to pay attention to the product label so that you know how much EPA and DHA you’re getting from the product.
What’s the best way to take Omega-3 fish oil?
Omega-3 fish oil can be taken in various different ways. It is often available in capsule or liquid form. The best way to take it generally depends on your own personal preference. Some people may find that liquid omega-3 fish oil supplements taste too fishy for their liking. They may prefer to take it in capsule form instead. Always check the instructions for the suggested use on the product label for the optimum way to take the supplement.
What’s the best meal to take my Omega-3 fish oil with?
Some people may benefit from taking omega-3 fish oil with a meal rather than on an empty stomach. Taking supplements on an empty stomach may cause some people nausea or digestive discomfort. Additionally, some studies suggest that taking omega-3s with a meal may help to increase its bioavailability. This means that it may be more easily absorbed by the body when taken with food.
Can I split the dose?
Because more benefits of omega-3s can be gained from long-term use, you can split the dose if it suits you better. In this case, you can take half of your daily dose in the morning and one later in the afternoon or evening. This is especially simple to do if you’re taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement in capsule form.
Is it safe to take a high dose of omega-3 fish oil?
At the moment, there aren’t any official recommendations and there’s still limited research on the right daily doses of omega-3 fish oil. If you are concerned about taking a dose that is too high for you, it would be best to speak with your physician before you begin supplementation.
Tips on how to to take fish oil
Here are some tips on how to take fish oil supplements:
Is it best to take an omega-3 fish oil liquid or capsule?
This is entirely up to you! If you find it difficult to remember to take supplements in general, it might be more useful to go for the capsule form. This means you won’t have to take time measuring the dose and the product label will tell you how much you should take every day. It also makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally take the wrong dose, as capsules offer the ease of pre-measured doses.
Then there’s also the question of taste. For those who don’t like the taste of fish, a capsule is probably the safer option as liquid fish oil can sometimes have a powerful, fishy taste. On the other hand, some people find it difficult to swallow pills or capsules and may find it easier to choose a liquid supplement.
Liquid fish oil is also more likely to spoil faster. It may also turn rancid when exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. Capsules, however, are more likely to have a longer shelf life because the oil is stored within the airtight capsule. This is thanks to the delayed release of fish oil that capsules offer. This can be especially beneficial for people who experience acid reflux from the acids that are naturally found in fish oil.
Is there anything I shouldn’t take them with?
There are some things that you might want to consider avoiding if you’re taking an omega-3 supplement. For example, consuming foods that are very high in saturated fats or cholesterol may reduce the beneficial effects that omega-3s like EPA and DHA can have on your body.
Reduce alcohol consumption when taking omega-3 fish oil
You may also want to reduce your consumption of alcohol if you are taking omega-3 supplements. Excessive use of alcohol can negatively impact your health. For example, one study suggests that alcohol can increase the amount of triglycerides in the body which can have an adverse effect on heart health.
In general, you are more likely to see better results if you pair omega-3 fish oil supplements with a healthy routine. Pairing natural supplements with plenty of exercise, water, and a well-balanced diet can already make a big difference!
How much is too much?
Like with any supplement, it is important to follow the suggested daily servings provided on the product label. Taking too much fish oil in the short term may result in unpleasant side effects such as bloating. Consuming too high a dose over the long-term can also lead to undesired effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that people should not take more than 3,000mg of EPA and DHA combined. To obtain the most benefits and reduce the risk of negative effects, make sure not to exceed the amount specified.
Omega-3 fish oil side effects
Some people may experience some side effects when taking omega-3 fish oil. These are usually fairly mild, although this of course varies from individual to individual. Some people may experience symptoms of digestive discomfort such as excess acid, heartburn, or nausea. In this case, they may find it helpful to take the supplements with a meal.
So what is the best omega-3 fish oil dosage for you?
The best omega-3 fish oil dosage for you will depend on your reasons for taking it. Asking yourself what benefits you want to gain from these supplements can help to determine how much of it you should take. Trying to at least have the minimum intake recommended of 250 – 500 mg is probably a good start for most people. Some people may benefit from higher doses, for example up to 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined. Remember to pay close attention to the label to see how much EPA and DHA the product provides and how much of it you should be taking.
If you need help choosing an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, we’ve made it easy for you! Check out our fish oil buyer’s guide here.