By now, you’ve probably heard how fish oil/EFA supplementation protects you from everything from heart disease to cancer to cold sores to hang nails and even the black plague so I won’t bother to redesign the wheel.
But… one question I’m often asked is “how much”.
If you read the label on most of these wonder-supps, it’ll probably say “1-2 capsules daily” or something to that effect. I’ve also found that most of these healthy fats come in potencies ranging from 750 to 1000mg.
There are the guys who clutch their clipboards as they sit around the office in white lab coats who really study this stuff. You’ll often find them engaged in light banter, discussing the finer details of the tricarboxylic cycle and making jokes about how the “dolts on the outside” don’t understand metabolic pathways, yet even they can’t come to a clear answer on how much is enough.
I’m not one of them. [Far from it, in fact ;)]
But I do still have my own personal and professional interest in the matter of supplementation, especially when it comes to dietary fats.
The latest research/reports I’ve seen recommend anything from 3 to 12 grams of fish oil a day.
So to answer the “how much fish oil” question - not from a pure scientific standpoint, mind you, but from what I consider a much more practical approach - I’ll tell ya’ what I do and let you take it from there…
First (and perhaps most importantly) I don’t take fish oil - or any other supplement for that matter - with expectations of a ‘miracle cure’.
Supplements are just that: supplements. Not substitutes. Not medications. It’s simply a little “insurance” against any deficiencies your already healthy diet might have.
Now if I lived in an igloo and ate salmon 3 times a day, I probably wouldn’t need to supplement with fish oil. But since I live/work/travel in the continental USA, I have the same food choices common throughout much of the western world. By this, I mean saturated fat is all too easy to get.
Have you ever seen a big chicken? I eat beef. I chose lean cuts whenever possible. Rather than freak out about my fat intake everytime a hamburger comes within reach, I simply balance (do not underestimate that word!) my dietary fats with poly and monounsaturated fats through EFAs, nuts, etc…
So if it’s a day of higher saturated fat intake, I just aim for the higher end of fish-oil intake the lab-geeks are currently recommending (10-12g).
If it’s an extremely lean day of eating (yes, I have those, too), I’d stay closer to the low end (3-5g).
On most days I’m in the 6-9g range, always divided over 3 or 4 ‘doses’.
Remember, health and fitness is all about balance. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.