Q and A

Fish Oil Dosage


Q: I understand the idea of increasing omega 3 intake to help shift the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in a better direction. But how much do you need to take and for how long before you see any difference?

A: That is a great question. Without a doubt, increasing omega 3 intake can help to improve your omega 6:omega 3 ratio.

An omega 6: omega 3 ratio skewed too far in favor of omega 6 can make it a challenge to regulate chronic inflammatory responses that can impair fat metabolism and muscle recovery.

The typical American, or Aussie, has an omega 6: omega 3 ratio of somewhere between 25:1 and 15:1. While the ideal ratio has yet to be established a ratio closer to 4:1 has been proposed as something to aim for.

Avoiding excess omega 6 in your diet while increasing sources of omega 3 is a sure plan to get you moving in that direction.

While we know that not all omega 3 is the same, including all forms will help to increase total intake and thus the chances of having a positive impact.

But how long you need to take omega 3 before it has a significant impact had been anyone’s guess up until now. Guesstimates in some literature were as long as 6 months before the omega 3 intake could displace the fat that was present in the phospholipid bi-layer of your cells.

A recent study investigated the effects that consuming 2grams EPA and 1gram DHA every day for 12 weeks had on the cell structure of skeletal muscle mitochondria.

Surprisingly, they found that there were significant increases in the EPA and DHA components of the mitochondria’s cell membrane structure. The increase in EPA and DHA did not displace any of the ALA (another form of omega 3) that was present, but did decrease the amount of certain omega 6’s that had originally been present in the cell membrane structure.

Twelve weeks of fish oil consumption resulted in a 4.5 fold increase in EPA and 3 fold increase in DHA content in the mitochondrial membrane. Certain fractions of the membrane saw even greater increases; EPA increased roughly 8.8 fold and 3.9 fold while DHA also increased 6.4 and 2.9 fold.

As if these increases weren’t enough to get excited about, there was also a decrease in total linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) within the mitochondrial membrane.

The totality of the effects of greater incorporation of fish oil into the mitochondrial membrane is unknown at this time, however it appears that increasing the fish oil contribution to the membrane may improve the efficiency with which ATP resynthesis occurs.

This efficiency in ATP resynthesis may explain results from other research that has shown lower whole body oxygen consumption at steady-state, submaximal efforts and fuel shifts that account for increased fat oxidation and glucose/glycogen sparing during exercise after fish oil supplementation.

Huh, all this from taking 3 grams of EPA/DHA a day for 12 weeks?? Makes you wonder what continuing the regime would do.

You’ll want to be sure to check out this other groundbreaking information about omega 3 fish oil:

Fast fat!
Omega-3 a keystone nutrition prescription
Essential fats and fat loss