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How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?
4/3/2006
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Omega-3 recommendations run the range, and the need for supplements can vary with fish consumption

by Craig Weatherby

 
A customer queried us recently with a common question: "Is there any prescribed dosage for your sockeye oil supplement?"
 
We recommend taking 3000mg (three 1000mg softgels or six 500mg softgels) of Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil or 2000mg (two 1000mg softgels) of our Vital Red Antarctic Krill Oil per day.
 
These recommend servings are based on official intake guidance from the scientific bodies with the greatest expertise in this area: the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL).
 
All three organizations agree that people need to consume about 500mg of omega-3s per day ... specifically, the omega-3s called EPA and DHA, found only in seafood and/or fish oil:
  • WHO recommends 250-500 mg of omega-3 EPA+DHA per day.
  • ISSFAL recommends taking at least 500 mg of omega-3 EPA+DHA per day ... preferably 650mg.
  • AHA advises heart patients to take 1000mg of omega-3 EPA+DHA daily, or 2000mg to 4000mg grams daily to lower triglyceride levels. (AHA makes no EPA+DHA intake recommendation for healthy people, advising only they eat two servings of seafood per week.)
Note: These recommendations assume that you are not getting omega-3s by eating fish; see “Consider the dietary context”, below.
 
However, there is no risk — and possible added benefit — associated with consuming more than 500mg per day, from the combination of seafood and supplements.
 
Many clinical trials have uses doses of 1000mg to 3000mg of EPA+DHA per day, and the U.S. FDA finds no risk at intakes up to 3000mg of EPA+DHA per day.
 
How much Vital Choice Salmon Oil or Krill Oil do I need to meet the official advice?
As we've said, all three organizations agree that people need to consume about 500mg of omega-3 EPA and DHA daily.
 
Each 3000mg serving (three 1000mg capsules) of Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil provides at least 460 mg of EPA+DHA (240mg of EPA and 220mg of DHA).
 
Each 2000mg serving (two 1000mg capsules) of our Vital Red Antarctic Krill Oil provides at least 410 mg of EPA+DHA (280mg of EPA and 130mg of DHA).
 
Accordingly, taking just one serving of either supplemental oil daily would get you very close to the 500mg per day advised by WHO, AHA, and ISSFAL. Just eat a little fish, or take one more capsule, and you'll meet or exceed this minimum.


We should note that there is no conclusive evidence that women need fewer omega-3s than men ... and it’s well established that pregnant and nursing women need ample omega-3s to ensure that they and their fetuses and infants get enough.
 
In addition to the omega-3s essential to human life and optimal health (EPA and DHA), our Sockeye and Krill oils contain some other omega-3 fatty acids (mostly DPA) of significant, if lesser, value.
 
What about plant-source omega-3s?
The small amounts of omega-3s in canola oil, beans, dark, leafy greens, walnuts, and flaxseed — which consist entirely of the "short-chain" omega-3 called ALA — are much less valuable to health.
 
This is because the body needs omega-3s in the long-chain, “marine” forms found in fish—EPA and DHA—and can convert only about 1 to 10 percent of ALA into EPA and DHA.
 

Adequate omega-3 intake is not enough: avoiding omega-6 fats

While ensuring adequate intake of omega-3s is critical, most people also need to decrease their intake of omega-6 fatty acids.
 
Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3s for uptake into cell membranes, so if you consume too much omega-6 fat, it will prevent your body from making full use of the omega-3s you take in.
 
Unfortunately, the diets of most Americans contain enormous excesses of omega-6s ... up to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3, instead of the three-to-one or lower ratio recommended by leading omega-3 researchers.
 
To avoid a dietary excess of omega-6 fatty acid, just avoid the vegetable oils in which it is most abundant — corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, cottonseed, and soy oils — and the many packaged, frozen, and restaurant foods high in these oils.
 
The best vegetable oils to use in cooking are extra virgin olive oil and macadamia nut oil, which are low in omega-6 fats and high in monounsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in a class of extraordinarily potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants called tyrosols, which are believed to dampen inflammation and aid vascular health.
 
For more information, see the "Omega-3 / Omega-6 Balance" section of our News archive.

Liquid for the little ones

What about kids? We’ve seen no specific, science-based dose recommendations for children. However, omega-3s are essential for proper brain and eye development in the early years—and offer a very sound safety record—so it seems appropriate to give young children supplemental amounts.
 
So that children can enjoy the benefits of omega-3s without having to swallow capsules, we also offer Liquid Salmon Oil, flavored with less than 1 percent organic lemon oil to make it more palatable to fish-averse palates.
Each 3/4 teaspoon serving of our liquid sockeye oil provides about 240mg EPA and 220mg DHA (460mg EPA+DHA), so it provides an ample  daily dose.
 

Consider the dietary context

To avoid wasting salmon oil supplements, you should consider the amount of omega-3s you are getting from fish when calculating how many capsules to take over the course of a week.
 
A 3.5 oz (100gm) serving of wild salmon provides from 1000mg (sockeye, silver) to 2000 mg (king) of EPA and DHA, which are the key omega-3s.
 
Accordingly, every 3.5 oz (100gm) serving of wild salmon provides the amount of EPA and DHA recommended by the AHA, WHO, and ISSFAL.
 
This means that if you plan to eat a palm-sized serving of wild salmon during the day, you can choose to skip your supplemental salmon oil, although consuming omega-3s in both forms would be beneficial.
To see how much total omega-3 occurs in each of the species we sell—halibut, sablefish, tuna, sardines, and salmon (sockeye, king, silver), and shellfish—and in our seafood products, click here.
 
Sources
 


Note: If you take blood-thinning drugs or have a serious cardiovascular condition—especially a diagnosis of angina or an irregular heartbeat that involves use of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)—check with your doctor before taking any omega-3 supplements. While omega-3s are proven to protect against heart attacks and strokes, they may be inadvisable in certain circumstances.
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