Dose of fish oil

Dosing for fish oil is a perennial point of confusion. However, it's quite simple.

The active ingredients in fish oil are DHA and EPA, the so-called omega-3 fatty acids. Of course, if there's anything else in your capsules, such as omega-6, omega-9, or linolenic acid, these should not count towards the sum of EPA + DHA, since they do not exert the same benefits as the omega-3s.

The basic suggested starting dose for the Track Your Plaque program is 1200 mg of EPA+DHA. This is usually provided by taking 4 x 1000 mg capsules of fish oil, providing 180 mg EPA, 120 mg DHA per capsules, for a total of 1200 mg EPA+DHA.

About a third of people, however, will require greater doses of omega-3s to reduce triglycerides, VLDL, and/or intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL). Most people will do fine with an increase to 1800 mg EPA+DHA, usually provided by 6 x 1000 mg standard capsules. A very occasional person (about 1 in 100) will require even higher doses.

If you ever decide to change your fish oil preparation, or if you change to a more concentrated form or another form such as liquid fish oil (e.g., Carlson's), paste (e.g., Coromega), or syrup (e.g., Pharmax Frutol), then you will need to examine the label to determine the dose of EPA+DHA. If, for instance, a teaspoon of liquid fish oil provides 360 mg EPA and 240 mg DHA, that's a total of 600 mg omega-3s per teaspoon. If your EPA+DHA dose is 1200 mg per day, then two teaspoons a day should provide it. Always adding up the EPA+DHA content of whatever preparation you choose will therefore allow you to mix, match, or change your dose whenever you like.

Comments (2) -

  • JJ

    7/5/2007 9:44:00 PM |

    Is flax oil a suitable alternative?  (and in particular high lignan flax) Using Barlean's high lignan flax oil, I try to take in a minimum of 2000 mg of flax-based Omega-3 per day.  Also, flax oil seems to be higher in Omega-6, but if one is maintaining the requisite daily intake of Omega-3, does the Omega-6 level matter?

    Thank you...a very helpful blog!

  • Dr. Davis

    7/6/2007 12:47:00 AM |

    Flaxseed oil exerts none of the effects we're looking for: triglyceride reduction, rise in HDL, reduction in small LDL, and reduction in coronary plaque rupture. It is therefore not a suitable alternative. It may be beneficial for other reasons, however.