When it comes to fatty acid supplements, there’s a craze surrounding fish oil. It’s hard to blame anyone who adds fish oil to their cart,, given the many marketed benefits of fish oil, from maintaining heart health to promoting a healthy memory.
The benefits of omega-3 are far and wide. However, it can be hard to know just how much you need in order to reap these potential benefits. Learn more about how much fish oil you should be taking and why you should take it with this helpful guide.
What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil?
Fish oil can be taken in the form of fish oil supplements, and it offers many potential benefits, making it a popular household supplement. This supplement is most often admired for its heart health benefits.
Many people take fish oil because of its advertised advertised ability to maintain cholesterol levels already within a healthy range. There is some debate about how well fish oil works in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, but it may support overall healthy levels of these blood lipids.
Fish oil may also help support cardiovascular health by maintaining healthy blood pressure and circulation.
Others take fish oil to support their joint health. Fish oil may be able to soothe joint tension and help you maintain healthy flexibility and movement, especially as you age. During the aging process, this supplement may also help you maintain healthy cognitive functioning, from a positive memory to supported motor function.
Why Is Fish Oil Beneficial?
Fish oil can attribute its benefits to the fact that it is rich in two types of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two polyunsaturated fatty acids play a key role in several bodily systems — but there are few high-quality dietary sources of both, with fatty fish being one of them.
The body can create small amounts of these two essential fatty acids on its own using a more abundant omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid, but there is an emphasis on the word “small.” The body creates such a small amount of DHA and EPA that it is a good idea to take a supplement for extra support, especially if you do not eat much fish in your daily diet.
DHA is found in many cell membranes throughout the body, making it an important building block. This fatty acid is found in its highest concentrations in the eyes and brain. DHA is particularly important during fetal development and childhood, as it is a foundational component of brain and eye cells.
Meanwhile, EPA also plays several important roles. EPA is responsible for creating molecules called eicosanoids that support key functions in the body. As a result, eicosanoids have an important influence on helping your body maintain an appropriate heart rate as well as encouraging healthy blood pressure.
How Many Milligram of Fish Oil Should I Take?
With an understanding of just how much you stand to gain from fish oil, it’s important to know how much you need to see the benefits. In general, the recommended fish oil dosage is determined by the amount of omega-3 fats you should be getting each day.
There are a variety of answers regarding how much fish oil you should take per day, especially since the amount of omega-3 you need may be determined by your specific health needs. General dietary guidelines recommend eating two servings of fish each week but do not translate that number to fish oil.
For healthy adults, typically between 250 and 500 mg of combined DHA and EPA per day enough. If you are dealing with a health condition, you should seek medical advice to confirm the best option for you. There are dose-responsive benefits associated with omega-3 consumption that might justify higher doses.
Are There Side Effects of Fish Oil?
Fish oil does not present many risks to healthy adults, but it can have some side effects and raise some concerns. The most common side effect is bad breath due to the fishy smell of the supplement.
Some people experience more unpleasant side effects like indigestion, heartburn, and loose stools. Other people may also see a rash with consistent usage.
High doses of fish oil may be more likely to have negative effects. At the same time, large amounts of fish oil can increase the risk of harmful marine contaminants like mercury. Ultimately, you should always talk to your doctor about whether fish oil is a good option for you.
Is Fish Oil the Only Way To Get Enough Omega-3s?
Fish oil is not the only way to get your omega-3. There are plenty of options if you have an aversion to fish oil or want some additional health benefits. There is also an option that may be more effective than the popular supplement.
Of course, you can always eat fish directly. Although it is less convenient, many fish provide more than adequate amounts of omega-3. Good sources of the two essential omega-3s are fatty, oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Keep in mind that fish oil is designed to be more concentrated with omega-3s than what you would ingest from eating fish in your diet, which can vary.
Many people choose to instead get the appropriate intake of omega-3s through krill oil, which has some subtle differences in the nutrients that it provides. Krill oil also has carotenoids, which act as powerful antioxidants and provide an extra reason to choose it over fish oil. However, krill oil tends to be slightly more expensive and is also not as easy to find on the grocery store shelf. Fish oil also poses serious environmental challenges.
Still, there are many people who prefer to avoid fish sources of omega-3 altogether. Some prefer to avoid fish oil and the like because of the inevitable and unpleasant fishy breath that follows. Others stray away from these options because they follow a plant-based lifestyle. Fortunately, there is an option that works for everyone.
An excellent source of omega-3 is one you may not expect — algae. Many shoppers are surprised to learn that fish and krill don't make omega-3s: they become rich in omega-3s by eating algae. It's true! Algae is the source of omega-3 and is rich in both DHA and EPA fatty acids, making it an excellent alternative to fish oil.
Is Fish Oil the Best Option?
Fish oil is certainly the most popular source of omega-3 fatty acids and, for that reason, is found in many households. Considering that fish oil is so famous compared to the other options, it raises the question — is fish oil the best source of omega-3?
Despite the popularity of fish oil, it doesn’t stand out as better than any of the other options. In fact, obtaining your omega-3 fatty acids through algae can be even more beneficial than through fish or krill oil. Although fish oil has a high omega-3 content, the amount doesn’t matter if the body cannot use it all. Your body’s ability to use the nutrients you eat relies on your body’s ability to absorb it — this is what sets algae apart.
Algae is absorbed by the body at a rate 1.7x that of fish or krill oil, which means that the body starts using more of the omega-3s you take in and faster. You also don’t need to take as much. As a result, you get all of the same potential benefits from algae as you would fish oil, especially when it comes to iwi life’s scientifically-backed formula.
Algae also offers other great benefits past its efficiency and lack of fishy burps — like its low risk of contamination. iwi life produces our species of algae, Nannochloropsis, in shallow ponds of salty water in the middle of the desert, far away from the ocean. Consequently, iwi life’s algae is free from potential contaminants that exist in the ocean, like mercury and lead.
Plus, by growing algae in the desert using sustainable production practices, iwi life helps you make a great move through protecting the environment as well. iwi life saves valuable resources by not using freshwater or soil in its straightforward production process. On top of it all, choosing algae keeps fish and krill in the ocean.
Boost Your Omega-3 Intake
Since it is so rich in DHA and EPA omega-3s, fish oil as a dietary supplement provides many possible health benefits. Despite fish oil’s popularity and list of benefits, however, it may not be the best option for getting your omega-3 intake. Algae can provide an excellent source of omega-3 with all of the same benefits and more.
Instead of fish oil, consider iwi life’s algae-based omega-3 supplement. With just two softgels each day, you can obtain 500mg of combined DHA and EPA omega-3s, giving you all you need for your daily recommended value. Unlike fish oil, you can also choose from a variety of supplements targeted toward your specific health needs. Try iwi life’s omega-3 supplement to see the benefits for yourself.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods & Benefits | Cleveland Clinic