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How Much Omega 3 do you Need

By Dr. Kristie

You already know the importance of omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil; but how much fish oil a day do you really need to get the benefits? A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology helps to answer this question.

How Much Fish Oil Daily?

Researchers compiled data from more than 40,000 participants in clinical trials. From the results of these trials, they determined that healthy individuals without heart disease should get 500 mg. of fish oil each day, while those with a history of heart disease need around 1,000 mg. per day.

This dose of omega-3’s appears to be enough to give the heart protective benefits associated with a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids.

What Are the Benefits?

Research on omega-3 fatty acids show that they may protect against heart disease, stroke, and even reduce the risk of irregular heart rhythms. Preliminary studies show that their benefits may extend beyond the heart to reducing inflammation and the risk of certain types of cancer.

Animal studies show a protective effect against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and even enhancement of brain function and memory. In addition, they’ve shown benefits for patients who suffer from mental health issues such as depression.

How Much Fish Oil a Day is Needed for the Other Benefits?

While 500 mg. of fish oils each day may be enough to provide benefits to the heart, it’s unclear how much may be needed to for prevention of other diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, or if they’re even protective against these diseases in humans.

Fish oil supplements are sometimes used as a natural way to reduce triglyceride levels. In this case, doses up to 1800 mg. per day or even more may be needed. Doses like this should be used under the care of a doctor since fish oils can increase the risk of bleeding in some people, particularly those taking anti-inflammatory medications or blood thinners.

How Can You Be Sure You’re Getting Enough Fish Oil Daily?

Most fish oil supplements available at drugstores and health food stores contain 300 mg. of omega-3’s, although you buy ones that have 1,000 mg. For most people without heart disease, taking two capsules a day will be enough to get the cardiovascular benefits.

Those who have heart disease may need to take three or even four of these 300 mg. capsules. Again, this should be done under the care of a doctor if you have heart disease or are on blood thinners.

To treat high triglyceride levels, up to six 300 mg. fish oil capsules may be needed. As a reference, two capsules of 300 mg. fish oil is the equivalent of eating about two servings of fatty fish each week. Ask your doctor what dosage is best for your particular situation. 


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