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How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?

fish oil capsules

Kirkland Signature fish oil capsules

I started taking fish oil capsules regularly about three years ago. I’ll get into some of the benefits of fish oil down below (and give you my best answer to How much fish oil should I take?), but here’s the quick version: I have felt better in these most recent three years than in the three before them. I take–enough.

I was at a strength training workshop with Dan John, a world-renowned discus thrower and all around strong monster. During the nutrition block he brought up fish oil capsules and everyone started asking questions.

The main question was “How many capsules should I take?”

Dan’s answer made everyone laugh, and I’m sure it made a few people nervous as well. First of all he said that the recommended dosages on the bottle were a joke when it came to reaping serious rewards from them as far as a supplement for lifting weights and caring for the beating the  joints take under the iron.

“Well, here’s what I do,” he said. “I up my dosage until I get diarrhea, then I dial it back by one capsule and see how I do. If things improve that’s my dosage, but if things aren’t solidifying I keep lowering the dose until they do.”

Dan also made it very clear that he’s not a doctor and that any experimenting we did was on our heads.

I tried the experiment and have been taking 11-13 capsules every single day for over a couple of years now. And I’ve never felt better. So now I want to talk briefly about the benefits I definitely associate with increased fish oil intake, and then I’ll give a list of other benefits that I have read about, but can’t personally vouch for.

Benefits of fish oil capsules

Keep in mind that various supplements will have different amounts of ingredients and concentrations. EPA and DHA levels can vary drastically, for instance. I have been taking the Kirkland Signature brand capsules. Dan recommends Flameout from T Nation, but he is also sponsored by them. It ain’t cheap.

I find that when I’m taking the oil:

  • My joints do not ache
  • My skin glows (I don’t really care about this, I just notice it)
  • I seem to get fewer colds
  • I rarely get muscle soreness
  • If I eat a lot of foods I associate with inflammation responses (think legumes), fish oil generally seems to dilute the effects
  • I associate it with greater power of concentration
  • I don’t have acute cravings for junk food

Some of these might just be my imagination, but I’m fairly good about tracking my nutrition and I’m persuaded by what I’ve seen.

Some benefits I have read about but cannot personally vouch for

I have read claims that a good fish oil supplement can help with:

  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cholesterol
  • vision problems
  • ulcers
  • memory
  • arthritis
  • more comfortable pregnancies

And more, but I’ll let it be for now.

I’m no doctor either, but if I had a suggestion to make, it would be to experiment with the dosage. If the amount that will benefit you the most is twice the recommended dosage, you’ll have to find out for yourself. Physiology is messy and we’re all very different in our histories, body shapes and sizes, ages, etc.

Also, if they make you burp, take them at night. I have to or the smell of myself makes me sick:)


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