Fish Oil Dosage for Adults

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Fish oil tablets on a white counter. (Image: obewon/iStock/Getty Images)

Fish oil is a concentrated source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are essential, meaning your body can’t make them and you have to get them from your diet. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, minimizing your risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease. They’re also important for brain functions, regulating mood, improving memory and preserving eye health. The amount of fish oil you’re supposed to take depends on the omega-3 content and your overall health.

General Recommendation

You’ll have to read the label carefully to determine the amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, or EPA and DHA. The proper dosage for overall health is based on the amounts of these omega-3 fatty acids, not the amount of fish oil. Generally, adults should aim for a fish oil supplement with 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But your doctor might suggest different amounts to help treat certain conditions.

Recommendations for Health Conditions

Treatment of certain ailments each have varying recommendations. Take up to 4 grams of fish oil daily to lower triglycerides. To bring your blood pressure down, take either 4 grams of fish oil or a blend consisting of 2.04 grams of EPA and 1.4 grams of DHA, MedlinePlus explains. Or to prevent or reverse atherosclerosis, aim for 6 grams of fish oil daily for three months, then 3 grams a day after that. For asthma relief, 17 to 26.8 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of EPA is recommended, as well as 7.3 to 11.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of DHA. Taking daily fish oil containing 3.8 grams of EPA and 2 grams of DHA can relieve inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis. However, it’s best to sit down with your doctor to get the correct fish oil dosage for your needs.

Maximum Amount

Too much fish oil could thin your blood, creating problems with clotting and bruising. You shouldn’t take more than 3 grams total -- 3,000 milligrams -- of omega-3 fatty acids per day without your doctor's supervision. As an example, if your supplement has the general recommendation of 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA, you’re getting just 300 milligrams of omega-3s, or 10 percent of the maximum safe amount. For certain ailments, however, your physician could suggest taking more than this amount for a set period of time.

Side Effects and Concerns

Fish oil is safe if you’re relatively healthy. The biggest issues are usually minor and uncomfortable -- bloating, belching, nausea, heartburn, gas or diarrhea -- even if you take just a small amount. But if you take blood thinners or bruise easily, fish oil can be problematic since the supplement affects your blood. Fish oil is also sometimes an issue if you have Type 2 diabetes. The supplement can impact your blood sugar levels, causing spikes in your fasting glucose. Fish oil supplements can also negatively affect the function of several medications if you take the incorrect dosage for your needs.

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