How much fish oil? | Fish oil dosage

How much fish oil should you take?

Fish oil dosage recommendations vary depending on each person's unique health profile.  To make the most informed decision on fish oil dosages you should consult your physician or primary health care professional.  Here are some examples of fish oil dosage recommendations from medical doctors, experts and authorities in the field of fish oil, medicine and health.

1 – 2 grams per day (2007).  Daily fish oil dosage for optimal mental health recommended by health, medical and diet authority, Dr. Andrew Weil.  “Another [optimal dietary source of omega-3 fatty acid] is dietary supplements of fish oil, either in capsule or liquid form. Fish oils are distilled, so they are free of toxic contaminants. For mental health, take one to two grams a day of an omega-3 supplement with both DHA and EPA. The ratio, as best we can estimate, is about three to four EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to one DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for optimal mental health. People who are depressed or have bipolar disorder can take significantly more, but that's where I'd start.” (Dr. Andrew Weil quoted in Patrick Perry, “Secrets to Optimum Health,” The Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 2007)

1 – 4 grams per day.  Fish oil dosage recommended to correct the imbalance of omega-6 over omega-3 in the U.S. diet.  “It well may be that our depressed, overweight society — plagued by inflammatory ‘lifestyle diseases’ such as arteriosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, obesity and cancer — is suffering unnecessarily. Never before in human history have diets been so low in omega-3 fatty acids and so high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. . . This crucial imbalance needs to he rectified if we are to regain and maintain optimal mental, physical, and emotional health. 

To address this fatty acid imbalance, you need to take two simple steps: First, cut way back on omega-6-rich vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola, safflower, etc) — which are abundant in most processed, frozen, and fast foods — and switch to heart-healthy EVOO [Extra Virgin Olive Oil], which is high in non-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Second, add fatty cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, trout, sablefish, and herring to your diet at least three times per week and take fish oil capsules daily.  Dosage information: Take 1 to 4 grams per day.”  (Nicholas V. Perricone, MD,Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity,” Ballantine Books, New York, 2006, p. 173)

2 grams.  Daily fish oil dosage recommended to protect against the health hazards of air pollution particulates.  “Frequently breathing in iffy particulates can create irregular heartbeats. If you're already coping with heart and lung problems or diabetes, you may be even more susceptible to pollution's health-busting effects. . . [Y]ou can defend yourself against their harsh effects with fish fats - specifically, with DHA, the king of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats do all kinds of good things in your body that reduce your risk of heart trouble (as well as stroke, depression, memory loss and impotence - quite a list). We recommend taking 2 grams of distilled fish oil supplements a day, or 600 mg of DHA supplements. . . Just one alert: If you already have a heart arrhythmia, chronic angina or congestive heart failure, check with your doctor about taking fish-oil supplements; they may not be for you.” (Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Mehmet C. Oz, MD - The You Docs, “Protect Yourself From Pollution,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 24, 2008)

2 – 3 grams per day (as of 2008).  Daily amount of molecularly distilled fish oil recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil.  “[Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish)] are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory.  If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement, 2-3 grams per day.”

"I eat fish often and also take 2-3 grams of supplemental fish oil a day.  We know that populations that eat fish regularly live longer and have less chronic disease than populations that do not. This may be partly because fish displaces meat in their diets. Certainly, fish provides high-quality protein without the saturated fat present in meat and poultry. In addition, the benefits of supplemental fish oil for people with heart disease are well established: reduction of serum triglycerides by 25 to 30 percent, slowing of the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques that can clog coronary arteries, slight lowering of blood pressure, decreased clotting tendency of the blood, and reduced risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes."

"Fish oil also may benefit people who have diabetes, PMS, breast cancer, memory loss, depression, insulin resistance, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.” (Dr. Andrew Weil, “Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – Fish & Seafood,” undated, retrieved Wednesday, December 30, 2009 and “Dr. Weil Q&A Library,”, Weil Lifestyle, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona, August 18, 2008) 

3 grams per day.  Daily fish oil dosage recommended to lose weight under the Perricone weight loss diet.  “Head for the seafood counter or stock up on fish oil capsules if you want to lose weight.  One key strategy that will stop your waistline from spreading and help you to lose existing body fat is to favor certain dietary fats: namely, the long-chain ‘marine’ omega-3 fatty acids abundant only in fatty cold-water fish and high-quality supplemental fish oil. Marine-source omega-3s cause the body to burn calories for immediate energy needs, before they are turned into hard-to-lose, inflammation-inducing abdominal fat.

This metabolic magic trick means that we will end up carrying less weight. . . . Cold-water fish and omega-3 fish oil capsules stabilize blood sugar and lower insulin levels — key factors in preventing weight gain and achieving successful weight loss.   Dosage information: As a dietary, supplement, take one 1000 milllgram wild sockeye salmon oil softgel with or after a meal up to three times daily [1000 milligrams x 3 times per day = 3000 milligrams or 3 grams per day]. To maximize benefits, higher doses should be approved by your health care professional.” (Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity, Ballantine Books, New York, 2006, p. 53-54 and Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, The Perricone Weight Loss Diet, Ballantine Books, New York, 2005, p. 96)

3 grams per day for rheumatoid arthritis. 
“How much [fish oil is enough to fight rheumatoid arthritis inflammation]? Fish oil or DHA from algae (where the fish get their omega-3s from) is a potent anti-inflammatory, particularly in large doses. You'll need at least 3 grams of fish oil a day to ease the joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis (check with your doc before taking that much).” (Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Mehmet C. Oz, MD, “Something wild: a better red meat?,” Chicago Sun-Times, December 24, 2009)

3 - 8 grams a day. 
Fish oil dosage range recommended by Dr. Barry Sears to control chronic silent inflammation.  “How much fish oil do you need?  You need to take the appropriate amount of fish oil to keep your SIP [Silent Inflammation Profile] (1) in the appropriate range. My research shows that the appropriate amount of EPA and DHA an individual needs ranges from 3 to 8 grams a day. This is equivalent to 1 to 3 teaspoons (or 4 to 12 capsules) of an ultra-refined EPA/DHA concentrate per day. This may seem like a lot of fish oil, but it's the amount you need to reduce your SIP to between 1.5 and 3, which is the key marker of wellness. . . [Y]ou need to find the dose [within this range] that's best for you.”  (Dr. Barry Sears, Chapter 7 - Your Ultimate Defense Against Silent Inflammation: High-Dose Fish Oil, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, p. 80)

3 – 12 grams.  Daily dosage of fish oil found to reduce triglycerides by 20 to 50 percent. “Fish oil's heart-healthy benefits appear to include lowering the heart rate, fighting inflammation, reducing blood clot formation, and inhibiting plaque buildup in arteries.  Fish oil at a daily dose of 3 to 12 grams lowers triglyceride concentrations by 20 to 50 percent. Acids present in fish oil should hit pharmacy shelves soon.” (Richard Harkness, “Pills & Ills: Flaxseed oil is no substitute for fish oil,” Sunday Gazette-Mail, July 17, 2005)

4 grams.  Daily dosage of fish oil administered to pregnant women in study concluding that fish oil supplementation may have potentially beneficial effects on a child's eye and hand coordination.  “Children born to pregnant women who consumed fish oil supplements had better hand-eye coordination than those born to mothers who did not consume fish oil, according to new findings. In a double-blind trial, 98 pregnant women supplemented with 4 grams of fish oil (yielding 2.2 grams of DHA and 1.1 grams of EPA) or 4 grams of olive oil from the twentieth week of pregnancy until birth. The children were tested for language, behavior, practical reasoning, and hand-eye coordination at the age of 30 months. Those whose mothers took fish oil scored higher on measures of language comprehension, average phrase length, and vocabulary. Hand-eye coordination skills were significantly greater among the children of mothers who were given fish oil.” (Dunstan JA, Simmer K, Dixon G, Prescott SL. Cognitive assessment at 21/2 years following fish oil supplementation in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2006 Dec 21 cited in Dayna Dye, “Fish oil may improve coordination in infants,” Life Extension, April 1, 2007)

5 grams per day.  Maximum fish oil dosage that should be consumed per day as recommended by Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic.  “Fish oil.  Though it's a very safe supplement to increase your intake of heart-healthy fat, [Dr. Roberta Lee, vice chairwoman of the Department of Integrative Medicine at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan] says she's seen patients have excessive bleeding when taking high doses of fish oil.  ‘It's not life-threatening, but for example, I've seen where people are taking too much fish oil, and they'll have prolonged bleeding from acupuncture needles.’  How much fish oil is too much?  More than 5 grams -- or 5,000 milligrams -- a day, according to [Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic].” (Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, “Herbs, vitamins that can hurt you,” CNN, August 20, 2009, Watch the CNN video)

6 grams per day.  Fish oil daily dosage taken by participants in a study of overweight adults finding that fish oil and exercise were effective at reducing body fat and cholesterol levels.  “In a study of overweight adults, Australian researchers found that a combination of exercise and fish oil supplements was effective at reducing body fat and improving cholesterol levels and blood vessel function. 

Study participants who took fish oil, alone or with exercise, saw their levels of "good" HDL cholesterol go up, while their triglycerides (an unhealthy form of blood fat) took a dip. Meanwhile, both exercise and fish oil seemed to cut body fat.  The overall benefits, according to the study authors, suggest that a combination of exercise and fish oil may improve overweight adults' cardiovascular health.  Peter R. C. Howe and colleagues at the University of South Australia in Adelaide report the findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

For their study, the researchers randomly assigned 75 overweight adults to one of four groups: one that took 6 grams of fish oil per day; one that consumed fish oil and walked for 45 minutes three days per week; one that consumed pills containing sunflower oil; and a fourth that combined sunflower oil and walking.  After 12 weeks, the researchers found, volunteers who were taking fish oil showed greater improvements in their blood fats and blood vessel function than those who took sunflower oil.” (“Fish oil plus exercise may banish body fat,” Reuters, May 24, 2007)

Fish oil, health and inflammatory diseases.  [I]nflammation that you can’t feel (silent inflammation) may be the dark force responsible for many of the most feared diseases of middle and old age [heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimers]. . . . [A]verage Americans are leading a lifestyle that causes silent inflammation.

The single most important thing you can do to keep silent inflammation under control is this: take a daily supplement of high-dose fish oil. . . High-dose fish oil . . . provides the ultimate boost you need to dampen down silent inflammation. It will also be your best defense against any dietary lapses you may have, such as going overboard on your glycemic load. [Emphasis added]. (2)

— Dr. Barry Sears
Biochemist and best-selling author
The Anti-Inflammation Zone

7.2 grams per day.  Amount of fish oil administered to participants in study finding that fish oil inhibits production of the stress-related hormone cortisol.  “Now preliminary research has shown that fish oil may also help individuals cope with psychological stress and lower their cortisol levels. In a study published in 2003, researchers gave seven study volunteers 7.2 grams per day of fish oil for 3 weeks and then subjected them to a battery of mental stress tests.  Blood tests showed that these psychological stressors elicited changes in the study subjects' heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

After 3 weeks of fish oil supplementation, however, the rise in cortisol levels secondary to stress testing was significantly blunted, leading the authors to conclude that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil ‘inhibits the adrenal activation elicited by a mental stress, presumably through effects exerted at the level of the central nervous system.’”  (Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity, Ballantine Books, New York, 2006, p. 171, see also J. Delarue, O. Matzinger, C. Binnert, P. Schneiter, R. Chioléro and L. Tappy,"Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men," Diabetes & Metabolism, Volume 29, Issue 3, June 2003, Pages 289-295)

7.5 grams (1 tablespoon).
  Amount of fish oil blended into the Sears Big Brain Shake.  “I [Dr. Barry Sears] developed [the Big Brain Shake] recipe for individuals with neurological conditions like attention deficit disorder and Alzheimer's who need very high levels of EPA and DHA in order to reduce their SIP [Silent Inflammation Profile].*   Frankly, I use it myself because I get a complete Zone meal and all the fish oil I need in less time than it takes to brew of cup of coffee. All you need is a good blender and [fish oil; low fat milk; protein powder and thawed frozen berries].  Put all the ingredients into a blender, add up to a tablespoon of liquid fish oil (which contains 7.5 grams of EPA and DHA), and blend. You can add some ice to make it more like a milkshake. The key to the Big Brain Shake is the milk globules found in the 2% milk. These are preformed emulsions into which the added EPA and DHA will immediately incorporate. These fat emulsions are an ideal delivery system to maximize the fish oil absorption with virtually no taste.”  (Dr. Barry Sears, Chapter 7 - Your Ultimate Defense Against Silent Inflammation: High-Dose Fish Oil, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, p. 84)

9 grams per day.  Amount of fish oil recommended by Dr. Nicholas Perricone for a young high school athlete suffering from acne and excess body fat.  “For starters, I recommended that the copious amounts of soda [Matt drank] needed to be replaced with pure spring water.  Then, I put Matt on the anti-inflammatory diet. Luckily, Matt loved fish, which gave me great hopes for a successful outcome. I recommended that he buy wild Alaskan salmon in cans for convenience and ideally eat salmon at least five times per week. In addition to eating liberal amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, he needed to start taking high quality fish oil capsules — 1,000 mg per capsule, three per meal, three times a day, for a total of nine per day [1,000 mg of fish oil per capsule x 3 capsules per meal = 3,000 mg of fish oil per meal x 3 meals per day = 9,000 mg or 9 grams of fish oil per day].  (I don't recommend this amount for everyone; always check with a health professional before taking any supplements yourself).” (Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, The Perricone Weight Loss Diet, Ballantine Books, New York, 2005, pp. 38-39.  For other examples of treatment and diet regimens prescribed for patients by Perricone see pp. 7-8, 34-35 and 140)

15 grams per day.  Fish oil dosage of EPA and DHA administered to the lone surviving coal miner of the 2006 Sago coal mine disaster.  “The recent return home of the only survivor of the Sago mine disaster, Randall McCloy Jr., is being touted as a medical miracle. The primary reason for this miracle is the use of high-dose fish oil [OmegaRx fish oil supplied by Zone Labs of Danvers, Massachusetts] that was administered by his neurosurgeon, Dr. Julian Bailes . . .at the brain trauma center at the West Virginia School of Medicine. . . McCloy, who had suffered heart, kidney, and liver failure in addition to brain failure, returned home less than four months after the mining disaster.  The question remains -- how does OmegaRx work?  [Zone Labs’ Dr. Barry Sears explained] that both EPA and DHA are required to rescue the brain from the lack of oxygen.

The EPA in OmegaRx is necessary to reduce the inflammation that comes from oxygen deprivation, and the DHA in OmegaRx is required to provide the building blocks to support new neural growth. Either one by itself would have been insufficient.  Furthermore, one needs high concentrations of both in such trauma situations. The amount of OmegaRx that McCloy was receiving (and continues to take) contains 15 grams per day of EPA and DHA. Although a seemingly extraordinarily high dose, McCloy’s blood levels of these fatty acids were constantly monitored to maintain them within a therapeutic zone that Dr. Sears has found to maximize the reduction of systemic inflammation without compromising the body’s ability to fight infection.” (No author credited, “The Miracle of OmegaRx: Why It Worked?,”, Friday, April 7, 2006)

30 grams per day.
  Fish oil dosage recommended for treatment of surviving coal miner of the 2006 Sago coal mine disaster. “In what most people are describing as a medical miracle, Randall McCloy Jr., the only surviving miner from the Sago mine disaster, has returned home. When rescued from the Sago mine nearly four months ago, he had brain failure, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure. Needless to say, his outlook appeared very bleak. 

He was immediately transferred to one of the 30 brain trauma centers in the United States located at the West Virginia School of Medicine to be under the care of Dr. Julian Bailes.  Dr. Bailes called upon Dr. Barry Sears, one of the leading authorities in high-dose fish oil in the United States… Dr. Sears suggested administering 30 grams per day of the fish oil concentrate he developed, OmegaRx, that would provide 18 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) via tube feeding. The oil was sent from Dr. Sears' lab via Federal Express and for the next several months was an integral daily part of Randall McCloy's treatment.  

Because this was a very high dose of EPA and DHA, McCloy's blood levels were constantly monitored to ensure that the levels of these fatty acids (EPA and DHA) fell within a certain therapeutic range. Bailes said the blood test numbers were ‘right on the money’.  The EPA was needed to reduce the inflammation caused by the lack of oxygen within the organs, and the DHA was required to rebuild the brain, Dr. Sears said.  Today the damage to his heart, kidneys, and liver has been reversed, and he is home with his family. A miracle it is, but a miracle that Dr. Bailes believes was considerably helped by high-dose fish oil.” (No author credited, “The 'miracle' of high-dose fish oil,”, Friday, April 7, 2006)


(1) An indicator of chronic or silent inflammation levels in a person's body.  Sears defines SIP as the ratio of arachidonic acid (AA) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).   AA is a pro-inflammatory building block.  EPA is an anti-inflammatory building block. An SIP AA/EPA ratio of 1.5 is considered ideal.  A ratio of 3 is considered good. To gauge your own inflammation levels Sears recommends using a fasting triglyceride to HDL ratio.  Next time you have a standard blood test to test for your cholesterol, take the numeric value of your triglycerides and divide it by your HDL value TG/HDL.  The ideal ratio is 1.0.  A ratio greater than 2.0 indicates you have increased chronic silent inflammation.  The higher your ratio the greater your risk of heart disease.  For more information see pp. 41 – 43 in Chapter 4 of The Anti-Inflammation Zone. (Dr. Barry Sears, Chapter 4 - Testing for Silent Inflammation, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, p. 39 - 43)

(2) Dr. Barry Sears, Chapter 7 - Your Ultimate Defense Against Silent Inflammation: High-Dose Fish Oil, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, pp. 11, 75

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