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How much Fish Oil are you really taking? Read the label!

How much Fish Oil are you really taking? Read the label!

How much Fish Oil are you really taking? Read the label!

As an Integrative and Functional medicine physician, I frequently recommend omega-3 fatty acids to my patients for a variety of reasons. Omega-3 fatty acids:
  • have potent anti-inflammatory benefits
  • are important components of cell membranes
  • help to maintain heart, brain and nervous system health

Omega-3 fatty acids are backed by volumes of research indicating their value in reducing risk of conditions such as:
  • heart attack and stroke
  • autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • certain forms of cancer
I most often recommend fish oil to supplement omega-3 fatty acids, because it is a rich source of the two active and essential omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Other omega-3 rich supplements include cod liver oil and krill oil.
All omega-3 fatty acid supplements are not created equal!

  • EPA and DHA are the active omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil
  • When taking fish oil, the amount of EPA and DHA is what is most important, not total omega-3 fatty acids or total fish oil content.
  • The amount of EPA and DHA varies widely in different products.
  • Fish oil labels can be very deceiving.
  • The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, so you need to know how to read labels!


Look at the Serving Size.
How much of your product is considered a serving?
How much EPA and DHA is in each serving?
  • Remember, EPA and DHA are active omega-3 fatty acids, the rest of the omega-3 content is inactive.
  • Calculate how many servings you need to take to get your doctor’s recommended dose of EPA and DHA. 

Take a look at this example:

These two fish oil labels both contain 1000mg of fish oil, yet their EPA and DHA content is very different.

Product #1 contains 330mg of EPA and 250mg of DHA per serving (1 soft gel). Total EPA+DHA 580mg per serving.

Product #2 contains 250mg EPA+DHA per serving (1 soft gel). It does not specify amounts of each.

If your doctor was recommending 1000mg daily EPA+DHA, you would have to take:
  • 2 tabs of Product #1
  • 4 tabs of Product #2
Even though they both contain 1000mg of fish oil!

Take a look at this label. This product does not even specify EPA and DHA content:



Are you getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet?  Could you benefit from more?  We can test your blood omega-3 fats through an essential fatty acid panel.  I also make individual recommendations for fish oil supplementation for patients based upon symptoms and chronic conditions.  Contact our office for more information or to book an appointment!  231-638-5585.

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineLooking for a personalized approach to your healthcare? I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. I continue to see both new and returning patients from all over Michigan using my secure, easy video-visit format.  If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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