Fish oil is a good source of two Omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s) known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The omega-3s found in fish oil play a role in many body functions e.g., controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3s, we must get them through food or supplements. Cold water fish are the best food source of omega-3s. Nutritional supplements provide a more concentrated form.
It is advisable to aim to include 2–3 serves of cold water fish per week as part of a healthy diet. This provides approximately 250–500 mg of omega-3s per day.
Cold water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include1:
Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in brain function, normal growth and development, and controlling inflammation. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with inflammation that may damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes2.
Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk and reduce irregular heartbeats3.
See the Omega-3 essential fatty acids topic for more information.
There is no set recommendation on the amount of fish oil you should take. Certain health conditions and lifestyle factors can increase your body’s demand for omega-3s and taking a fish oil supplement may be beneficial. Ask your health professional for advice.
If a fish oil supplement is being taken, it is best to choose a product which declares the EPA and DHA content. In most cases, a 1,000 mg fish oil capsule supplies approximately 300 mg of combined EPA and DHA4.
1. Omega-3. Heart Foundation. 2015. Available from URL: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/Programs/Sources_of_omega_3.pd
2. Fish – friend or foe? Harvard Medical School. Last updated July 2019. Available from URL: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467
3. Omega-3 in fish. Mayo Clinic. Last updated Jan 2019. Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614
4. Fish oil dosage. Healthline. Cited Aug 2019. Available from URL: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fish-oil-dosage#dosages