Whether you’re new to the world of dietary supplements or a seasoned advocate with your own daily stack, you’ve probably heard about fish oil. It is, after all, the most common supplement taken today—used by everyone from athletes to arthritis sufferers. Far from being a cure-all, fish oil provides the body with much-needed amino acids, which serve a variety of benefits, from reducing inflammation to improving heart health.
Because fish oil is one of the most abundant supplements out there, people have a lot of options. This means paying close attention to the fish oil you’re taking. What levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) do your supplements have? What’s the bioavailability of your fish oil? How much do you need to take each day? These are all questions worth asking—questions we’ll answer below.
Why is fish oil so essential and important?
First, a primer. Why is fish oil so important? For starters, it’s important because it contains essential amino acids. Specifically, Omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. These amino acids are vital building blocks for human health and, unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of them—hence, fish oil as a supplement.
Alongside Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil also contains vitamins A and D, which are equally as beneficial for immunity.
What conditions benefit from fish oil?
The Omega-3s in fish oil are hugely beneficial for general health, but especially beneficial for people suffering from more chronic conditions like arthritis. In fact, science has uncovered a broad array of links between fish oil’s health benefits and improved prospects for many health conditions. Fish oil can have the power to:
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Improve skin clarity and condition
- Aid in improving heart health
- Reduce eyesight degeneration
- Improve mood for depression sufferers
- Strengthen bone and muscle tissue
From heart disease to psoriasis, macular degeneration to depression, it’s clear the body needs support in coping with these conditions and dozens of others. Omega-3 fatty acids may provide the immune support your body needs to feel and function better, even in the face of disease or chronic illness. A fish oil supplement every day is the best place to start.
How much fish oil should you take?
If you’re shopping for fish oil supplements, you’ll quickly find that there are broad discrepancies among dosages. You might see 250mg all the way up to 1000mg capsules, directions to take one or two capsules, or suggestions for supplementing once or twice each day. There are even splits between EPA and DHA to consider. Let’s start with the basics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes fish oil as an important supplement and recommends individuals get 200-500mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. If you’re new to supplements, it’s best to buy 250mg capsules and take two each morning with breakfast. Note that the WHO advises against fish oil supplements for women who are pregnant or nursing.
Now, there’s a difference between the dosage of Omega-3s in a supplement and the concentration. For example, most 1000mg fish oil supplements only contain 300mg of Omega-3s. If you’re following WHO recommendations, you care about the concentration of Omega-3s.
If you’re more experienced with supplements, you might want to consider EPA vs. DHA content. Most fish oil supplements are a 1:1 ratio, which is ideal. However, 1:2 (DHA/EPA) has proven effective in reducing cholesterol and may yield better overall results for some individuals. There are other ratios out there, such as 1:3 and even 1:4, but there’s not much evidence to suggest they’re any better than 1:1 or 1:2.
Choosing the right fish oil supplement
When it comes to choosing the best fish oil supplement for you, pay close attention to the label and the information provided. Here’s what to look for, to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck:
- At least 250mg combined EPA/DHA concentration
- A delivery medium of triglycerides (TG) or free fatty acids (FFA)
- Capsules that include an antioxidant (like Vitamin E) to prevent spoilage
- Mercury-tested supplements, certified as safe
- Unmodified, GMO-free concentration
In addition to capsules, many people actually prefer pure, natural fish oil supplement. This allows them to fix it in with protein shakes or other foods. It’s best to take fish oil supplements with food each day to promote better bioavailability—how quickly your body absorbs the supplement and how much it uses.
If you’re not currently Taking a fish oil supplement, it’s a good idea to look into one. Unless you’re eating fish every couple of days, you’re probably not getting enough Omega-3s. Fish oil is a simple way to get the essential aminos your body needs to protect itself from inflammation and illness.