Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How much fish oil should I take?"

ZocdocAnswersHow much fish oil should I take?


My doctor said it might be a good idea to take some fish oil for my cholesterol levels. How much should I take though? Do you have to take it everyday for it to work right?


Fish oil is a dietary supplement deprived from fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that may help protect the health of your heart, especially if you have high blood pressure or have suffered a heart attack or a stroke. We need omega-3-fatty acids to help reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure, thus preventing atherosclerosis (a condition characterized by hardening of the arteries). It helps improve overall physical and mental health by controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3-fats, we must maintain a diet where we can get sufficient omega-3-fatty acids. If you are a healthy adult with no family history of heart disease, taking 300 to 500 mg of fish oil daily can help reducing your risk of heart disease or having a stroke. On the other hand, an adult with heart disease is generally recommended to consume 1 g of fish oil daily. However, you need to consult with your doctor about taking higher doses of omega-3 supplement (more than 500 mg) if you have heart disease. If your cholesterol levels are too high, the general recommendation is the daily treatment with 2 to 4 g of fish oil to help lower your blood triglyceride levels while elevating your HDL or good cholesterol levels. However, unless you are under the care of a physician, you should not take more than 3 g of this omega-3 fatty acids supplement daily. If you have diabetes or pre-existing bleeding disorder, it is best to avoid taking fish oil unless otherwise instructed by a physician. I would suggest that you consult with your primary care doctor about the amount of fish oil you should take daily because it depends upon your age and health status. Please inform your doctor all of the health problems or concerns you may have before beginning treatment with a fish oil supplement. Good luck!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.