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Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oil Supplements

These instructions are for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) patients who are recommended to increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids or take fish oil supplements to reduce risk of heart issues and decrease triglyceride levels.

Important information:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are a source of polyunsaturated fats that are found in plant foods and fish. The main active ingredients in omega-3 fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), DHA (docosahexanoic acid), and ALA (alphalinolenic acid). These can help reduce the risk of heart attacks in high-risk patients and decrease triglyceride levels.

  • Supplements can be an easy way to get your required amount of omega-3 fats and may be necessary if your healthcare provider wants you to take large amounts.

What foods are high in omega-3 fats?

  • Foods high in ALA include:

    • Flax and chia seeds

    • Walnuts, tofu, and edamame

    • Flax, walnut, canola, and soybean oils

  • Fish because it is high in EPA and DHA. Goal is two 3-ounce (oz.) servings of fish per week for children. Up to 12 oz. of fish per week is safe in adults.

  • Fish high in DHA+EPA include:

    • Herring, salmon, sardines (> 1000 mg per 3 oz serving)

    • Canned salmon, trout, oysters, sea bass (500-1000 mg per 3 oz serving)

    • Shrimp, canned light tuna, scallops, tilapia, cod (100-500 mg per 3 oz serving)

  • Young children and pregnant women should avoid or limit some fish that may be high in mercury, including:

    • Shark

    • Swordfish

    • Tilefish

    • King mackerel

    • No more than 6 oz. white albacore tuna per week

Instructions for taking fish oil supplements:

  • Supplements can be an easy way to get more omega-3 fats and may be necessary if a health care provider recommends taking large amounts.

  • Read the label and note the active ingredients of EPA and DHA. Add the amount of EPA and DHA to figure out how many milligrams (mg) are contained in each serving. If using fish oil to lower triglycerides, high doses of EPA+DHA (2000-4000 mg daily) are needed.

  • Take fish oil supplements with meals, divide doses over the course of the day, and keep capsules in the refrigerator or freezer to reduce side effects. The most common side effect from supplements is a mild fishy aftertaste.

  • Listed below are some popular fish oil supplements and the amount of EPA and DHA per serving.

Fish Oil Soft gels

EPA + DHA per serving (mg)

Serving size

Carlson® Labs Elite Omega 3 Gems

1400

2

Dr. Tobias™ Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength

1400

2

GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil

1000

1

Nature Made® Ultra Omega-3 from Fish Oil

935

1

Nature's Bounty® Fish Oil 1400 mg

900

1

Nordic Naturals® Ultimate Omega 2X*

2000

2

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega*

1100

2

*Nordic Naturals soft gels are lemon flavored and chewable

 

 

Fish Oil Liquids

EPA + DHA per serving (mg)

Serving size

Carlson for Kids Very Finest Fish Oil, variety of flavors

650

2.5 ml

Carlson Labs Very Finest Fish Oil, variety of flavors

1300

5 ml

Carlson Labs Med Omega Fish Oil, lemon-lime flavor

2360

5 ml

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, lemon flavor

2470

5 ml

Nordic Naturals Omega-3, lemon flavor

1245

5 ml

Reviewed on November 1, 2022, by Elizabeth Wright, RD; Danielle Campbell, RD

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