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

Oct 03, 2019 Heart Health Tips 5 MIN

how much omega 3 per day

Quick Health Scoop

  • The benefits of fish oil are in the Omega-3s
  • The two types of Omega-3 fatty acids to focus on the long-chain fatty acids Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic acid (DHA).
  • The recommendation of two servings of oily fish per week for healthy adults equates to approximately 500 mg EPA and DHA Omega-3s per day‡
  • A standard 1000 mg fish oil softgel provides around 300 mg of Omega-3s (and even less EPA and DHA), so it is important to read the Supplement Facts label to determine the amount of EPA and DHA per serving in your fish oil supplement.

Many people focus on the dosage of fish oil to take per day, like 1000 mg or 1200 mg, but it is the Omega-3s that matter. This is where the benefits of fish oil are found. The two types of Omega-3 fatty acids to focus on are EPA and DHA. These Omega-3s are naturally found in arine-based sources including algae, but are abundant in oily fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines, and are the very reason why fish oil supplements have received such high praise.

EPA and DHA: What’s the Catch?

A regular intake of EPA and DHA can play a positive role in your health. When made available to the body, EPA and DHA are incorporated into cell membranes (such as heart cells) and help support flexible cell membranes. Scientists continue to add to the extensive amount of research on EPA and DHA – including the important roles of EPA and DHA in supporting brain, eye, and mood health. As the most abundant fatty acid in your brain and eyes, DHA helps neurons transmit messages and plays an important role in eye function in different lighting conditions. Adequate levels of EPA and DHA are needed in your brain to help with mood regulation.

How Much EPA and DHA Per Day Do I Need?

Respected health care organizations' proposed intake recommendations of oily fish is two servings per week for healthy adults, which equates to approximately a daily total of 500 milligrams (mg) EPA and DHA for heart health. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Learn More: Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits

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 Omega-3s. National survey data shows that over 2/3 (68%) of US adults, and 95% of US children do not consume enough EPA and DHA in their daily diet to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. What’s more, there are extremely few food sources, aside from fish, that naturally provide EPA and DHA. With all the benefits that can come from fish oil, it’s no surprise that these supplements are increasing in popularity.

What Should I Look for in a Fish Oil/Omega-3 Supplement?

First, always remember that it’s the Omega-3s that count. When making your purchase, be sure to determine the amount of Omega-3s per serving. So, how much Omega-3 per day should you consume? 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. But 1000 mg or 1200 mg of fish oil doesn’t equal 1000 or 1200 mg of Omega-3s. A standard 1000 mg fish oil softgel provides around 300 mg of Omega-3s, and to meet the 500 mg EPA and DHA recommendation, a minimum of two softgels would be necessary. Make sure to read the “Supplement Facts” label to determine the amount of EPA and DHA in a fish oil/omega-3 supplement.

Second, quality matters. It is important to purchase fish oil/omega-3 supplements from a reputable manufacturer that follows current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and takes the necessary steps to purify the oil to remove mercury and other contaminants. In choosing a brand like Nature Made®, the #1 Pharmacist Recommended Brand in Omega-3/Fish Oil Supplements*, you can rest assured knowing Nature Made has a strong commitment to making quality supplements so you can experience the benefits omega-3s from of fish oil.

Learn More: Heart Health Supplements to Take

Nature Made Fish Oil/Omega-3 Supplements

Nature Made Extra Strength Fish Oil 2800 mg Softgels (2000 mg Omega-3) provides our highest strength dose of EPA and DHA in two softgels. Each serving provides a total of 1870 mg of EPA and DHA.†

If you're looking to take just one softgel, Nature Made Ultra Omega-3 1400 mg (1000 mg Omega-3) is a unique formula that provides our highest strength dose of EPA and DHA in just one softgel, compared to less concentrated fish oil softgels – nearly 3 times the amount. Each softgel provides a total of 935 mg of EPA and DHA. 

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health. 

Learn More About Omega-3 & Heart Health:

*Based on US News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey, 2021 

††As ethyl esters

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.