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How Much Fish Oil Should You Take?
EPA and DHA Omega-3s are What Counts!

Meghan Lyons, M.S.

Many people focus on the amount of fish oil to take, like 1000 mg or 1200 mg, but it is really the omega-3s that matter. The two types of omega-3 fatty acids to focus on are EPA and DHA. These omega-3s are naturally abundant in oily fish like salmon, halibut, sardines and anchovies, and are the very reason why fish oil supplements have received such high praise.


EPA and DHA: What’s the Catch?
An adequate intake of EPA and DHA plays a very positive role in your health. When made available to your body, EPA and DHA are incorporated into your cells (your heart cells, brain cells and eye cells to name a few) and maintain a critical role in keeping those cells healthy and functioning. Scientists continue to add to the extensive amount of research on EPA and DHA, and the findings remain very positive in favor of these omega-3s for heart, eye and brain health among other beneficial health effects.


How Much EPA and DHA Do I Need?
Recently, respected health care organizations, including the American Heart Association, have proposed intake guidelines for EPA and DHA. For healthy adults, a combined daily total of 500 milligrams (mg) EPA + DHA is recommended either from the diet (i.e. oily fish) or supplementation. The guidelines encourage adults already with or at-risk of developing cardiovascular disease to talk to their primary practitioner about supplementing with amounts greater than 500 mg of omega-3s per day. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

While fish for dinner is one way to get EPA and DHA, most people don’t eat the suggested two to three servings of oily fish per week to reap the benefits of these powerful nutrients. What’s more, there are extremely few food sources, aside from fish, that naturally provide EPA and DHA. So it’s no surprise that fish oil supplements are increasing in importance.


What to look for in an Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement?
First, always remember that it’s the omega-3s that count. When making your purchase, be sure to determine how much omega-3s are provided per serving. Many doctors often recommend 1000 to 1200 mg of fish oil because that amount of fish oil contains the total amount of omega-3s the doctor wants you to consume. One thousand or 1200 mg of fish oil doesn’t equal 1000 or 1200 mg of omega-3s. The average 1000 mg fish oil softgel typically provides around 300 mg of omega-3s (even less of the important EPA and DHA), and so in order to meet the 500 mg intake guidelines, a minimum of two softgels would be necessary.

Second, quality matters. It is important to purchase fish oil from a reputable manufacturer that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and takes the necessary steps to purify the oil. In choosing a brand like Nature Made®, the #1 brand of fish oil recommended by pharmacists*, you can rest assured knowing Nature Made has a strong commitment to making quality supplements.


Nature Made Super Strength Omega-3 EPA
Nature Made Super Strength Omega-3 EPA is a unique fish oil formula that delivers a higher dose of EPA compared to regular fish oil – nearly 3 times the amount. Every 2 softgels provides a total of 1200 mg of EPA and DHA (1000 mg EPA and 200 DHA).Higher levels of EPA have been found to support a healthy mood making Super Strength Omega-3 EPA a great formula for individuals seeking heart and mood support.


* Based on 2011 Pharmacy Times survey