Let’s start from the end and work our way back here-
If you are a person you should take a fish oil supplement. Good. I’m glad we have that covered. The following paragraphs will explain how much to take. A future posting will explore the fats debate in detail but in the immortal words of Hans and Franz: “Believe me now and listen to me later.”
How Much Do I Need To Take Per Day?
Disregard the label on your supplement. Serving sizes are not determined by physiologic need, they are determined by price. Ever notice that a serving size almost always amounts to 1$/ day regardless of the supplement?
This is how much you should take per day:
There are two ends of this spectrum. At one end is the minimal daily dose of a teaspoon per day of whatever is in the product you bought. This dose has a proven cardiovascular benefit and should be considered your buy-in. The other end of the spectrum is promoted by the likes of Robb Wolf and has added benefit for tissue healing, fat ratio balancing, is anti-inflammatory and is especially useful in high stress situations. The following is how you determine your high end intake:
Between .5 Gram to 1 gram per day for every 10 pounds of body weight. If you are demanding on your body either from heavy training and high stress load or from deficient sleep your body requires the higher 1 Gram per 10 pounds body weight. (Robb Wolf) When I say .5-1 gram I do not mean one gram of “total fat.” I mean one gram of EPA/DHA. That’s the good stuff. (1000 mg=1gram)
If you are confused because your product is measured in ml’s instead of mg’s then dig a little deeper. You are probably looking at the number at the top of the label under “Serving Size.” That number is not of interest because it is a volume measurement that includes flavoring agents etc. Follow along with the label below:
For your typical crossfitter or other highly active 180 lbs. individual the calculation looks like this:
1 gram/10lbs body weight= 18 grams/day.
For your average sedentary or 3 days of cardio/ week type that is .5grams/10lbs = 9 grams/day
This is the Innate Choice Omega Sufficiency supplement facts label from the gel caps. That’s why there is a range.
I use Innate Choice in my office which is pure but not necessarily significantly different than market brands such as Carlson’s. Innate Choice smells good and does not degrade in the bottle so it’s the one I go with. My product has 4 grams “total fat” per teaspoon but total fat is not what we are interested in right? We want the good stuff: EPA/DHA so look further down the label under “Omega-3 Fatty Acids”
Per teaspoon (5ml) my product has:
825mg EPA/ 550mg DHA= 1375 mg= 1.375 grams per teaspoon.
For our 180 pound crossfit athlete to get 18 grams we divide 18 by 1.375 to determine the number of teaspoon sized servings he needs. This equals 13 teaspoons of fish oil per day. This would be obnoxious and who uses teaspoons anyway? So use 4.3 Tablespoons instead. (3 teaspoons= 1 Tbs.) Answer= 4.3 Tablespoons/day.
Your average person (Low stress load/ minimal training) requires half that amount: about 2 tablespoons per day.
This amount is not a problem as long as you can tolerate taking the oil straight without the gel cap which gets cumbersome quickly: To get the same amount of fish oil in 4.3 Tbs. from gel caps would require 52 caps per day!
So if you are a person, find a product that you like the taste of and follow the formula below.
(#pounds body weight divided by 10) times .5-1.0 grams= grams EPA/DHA per day.
For those of you who eat a lot of wild fish you can subtract the amount of omega-3’s that you get from your diet from the amount that you supplement. Every serving (3 oz. piece) of wild salmon has about 2 grams of omega-3 oils. Other seafood has about half that; 1 gram per 3 ounce portion. A three ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards. That’s a little serving so you can get a significant amount from diet alone.
This equation is appropriate for anyone who weighs under 200 pounds. If you do the math it starts to get out of control at higher body weights. Exercise some restraint and common sense. If your fish-oil bill competes with your mortgage payment you have a problem. It is most important to get started and to be consistent. A large randomized trial called the GISSI Prevention Trial demonstrated that 1 gram/ day regardless of body weight decreased 3 year mortality rates by 10%.