Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer a range of health benefits, but most American don't consume enough of the types of fish that contain high amounts omega-3 acids. Because of this, fish oil pills are a necessary supplement of omega-3, which is a substance that the human body does not produce on its own.
As of mid 2009, there are no health organizations that offer a recommended guideline for fish oil dosage, although most major health organizations do agree that fish oil is beneficial.
According to the American Heart Association, people should consume two 4-oz. servings of fish per week, or between 2,000 and 3,000 mg of fish oil. The Power of Fish (find a link in Resources) contains a table with the amount of omega-3 oil in a serving of many types of fish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend a daily dose of omega-3s as of mid 2009; however, the agency does state that no person should exceed 3,000 milligrams a day of fish oil.
Nordic Naturals, the manufacturers of one brand of fish oil pills, recommends a daily dose of two capsules or 1,400 mg of fish oil. Those suffering from lupus and arthritis may wish to take 4,000 to 5,000 mg of fish oil a day. Another manufacturer, EnergyFirst, recommends a beginning daily dose of 500 mg for basically healthy individuals.
Fish oil capsules are the best way to supplement the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a diet, although vegetarian options are available. The capsules don't have a fishy taste and are easy to swallow.
Several health benefits are associated with taking fish oil regularly, including cholesterol reduction, improved digestive health, relief from depression and more effective long-term performance from internal organs including your liver, kidneys and heart.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are not a natural byproduct of the fish, but something that fish accumulate when they eat nutrient-rich algae. Vegetarians looking for the health benefits of omega-3 fish oil can locate all-vegetarian products made from this algae and still receive similar health benefits.
There may be hope for a codified answer to the dose question in the future, thanks to ISSFAL, or the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (find a link in Resources). According to their mission statement, ISSFAL member researchers explore the "health effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids as well as other lipids." With more than 500 members working toward the goal of greater usage of omega-3 supplements, along others, perhaps a daily recommended fish oil dose will be forthcoming.