How Much Fish Oil Should a Woman Take?

Fish oil pills on a white table.
Image Credit: Idiaphoto/iStock/Getty Images

A daily dose of fish oil can be beneficial for women. A 2006 review published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports that consuming omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil reduces your risk of dying from heart disease and possibly from stroke as well. Additionally, omega-3s in fish oil aid in proper fetal growth and development. Ingesting too much fish oil much can cause health problems, however. Always check with your doctor before taking any type of supplement, including fish oil.

Minimum Amounts

The amount of fish oil women should ingest daily depends on the amount of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the fish-oil supplement she's consuming. The American Pregnancy Association suggests women need at least 220 milligrams of DHA and 220 milligrams of EPA daily, while pregnant women need a minimum of 300 milligrams of DHA daily. Many women can meet these omega-3 requirements by ingesting 1 to 3 teaspoons of fish oil daily. Check the nutrition facts label on your fish oil supplement to determine how much DHA and EPA is present in each teaspoon.

Heart Disease Prevention

To reap heart-healthy benefits of fish oil, women should aim to consume 800 to 1,000 milligrams of DHA plus EPA daily if they have chronic heart disease and at least 500 milligrams of a combination of DHA plus EPA daily if they don't have heart disease, according to a 2008 review published in "The Ochsner Journal." MedlinePlus notes that 1-gram fish oil capsules containing 465 milligrams of EPA and 375 milligrams of DHA have been shown to lower high triglyceride levels in adults.

Maximum Safe Levels

Although fish oil does provide health benefits, taking too much of it can cause health problems. MedlinePlus notes that fish oil is safe, in most cases, in dosages up to 3,000 milligrams per day. Taking higher doses of fish oil can keep your blood from clotting, increase risks for bleeding, weaken your immune system and may interact with certain medications. Therefore, talk with your doctor before taking fish oil supplements, and avoid consuming more than 3,000 milligrams per day.

Omega-3s in Fish

Fish oil is abundant in fatty fish -- such as salmon, sardines, tuna and anchovies. MedlinePlus notes that 3.5 ounces of fatty fish provide about 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s, including EPA and DHA. But because fish contains environmental contaminants, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, pregnant and nursing women and women who may become pregnant should limit the amount of fish they eat. Reputable purified fish oil supplements, however, are free from harmful levels of these contaminants.