Healthy Living

Fish Oil & Cod Liver Oil (EPA & DHA)

Also indexed as:Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil), EPA (Fish Oil), Salmon Oil
Fish Oil & Cod Liver Oil (EPA & DHA): Main Image

Oil from fish contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); both are omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Congestive Heart Failure
850 to 882 mg per day 3 stars[3 stars]
In a double-blind study of people with chronic heart failure, a combination of EPA and DHA for four years resulted in a small but statistically significant protection against death or hospitalization for cardiovascular reasons.
High Triglycerides
3,000 mg daily omega-3 fatty acids3 stars[3 stars]
Many double-blind trials have shown that fish oil containing EPA and DHA lowers triglycerides levels.
Hypertension
3 to 15 grams daily omega-3 fatty acids3 stars[3 stars]
EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, have been repeatedly shown to lower blood pressure.
Lupus
Up to 20 grams fish oil per day after consultation with a doctor 3 stars[3 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil may improve symptoms and decrease disease activity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis
3 grams daily of EPA plus DHA3 stars[3 stars]
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effect and may help reduce pain. Many trials have proven that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil partially relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Angina
Consult a doctor 2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil has been shown to reduce chest pain and the need for nitroglycerin. Taking vitamin E with fish oil may protect the oil from undergoing potentially damaging oxidation in the body.
Anxiety
3 grams per day 2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, fish oil was significantly more effective than a placebo in improving anxiety levels for substance abusers.
Asthma
Consult a doctor 2 stars[2 stars]
Research shows that fish oil partially reduces reactions to allergens that can trigger asthma attacks. It has also been shown in one study to prevent exercise-induced asthma attacks.
Atherosclerosis
3 to 6 grams fish oil daily, containing at least 30% omega-3 fatty acids 2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil may reduce risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart disease. One trial showed that people who took fish oil had a slowing of the progression of their arterial plaque and had a decrease in cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Bipolar Disorder
Daily omega-3 fatty acids: 9.6 grams for adults, 1,290 to 4,300 mg for children 2 stars[2 stars]
People with depression may have lower blood levels of omega-3s. Taking fish oil, in addition to prescribed medication, improved symptoms in one study.
Breast-Feeding Support
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioneras Cod Liver Oil2 stars[2 stars]
Studies have shown that higher breast milk concentrations of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid present in fish oil) are associated with better visual acuity in infants.
Cardiac Arrhythmia
Do not take, or take only with a doctor's supervision, if there is a history of sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil has been shown to reduce the frequency of abnormal heartbeats in some trials.
Crohn’s Disease
2.7 grams daily omega-3 fatty acids in enteric-coated capsules 2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil helps relieve the inflammation of the gut that occurs in people suffering from Crohn’s disease.
Cystic Fibrosis
2.7 grams of EPA daily2 stars[2 stars]
The impaired fat digestion in people with cystic fibrosis often leads to a deficiency of essential fatty acids, which may lead to increased risk of respiratory infection. This deficiency may be reversed by fish oil supplementation.
Depression
9.6 grams omega-3 fatty acids per day2 stars[2 stars]
Depressed people have been reported to have low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking fish oil can replenish stores and stave off depression.
Dysmenorrhea
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
A fish oil supplement containing EPA and DHA may help prevent menstrual syndromes.
Eczema
Adults: 1,800 mg a day of EPA; children: proportionately less, according to body weight2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil can supply anti-inflammatory fatty acids that are missing in many people with eczema.
Epilepsy
3.25 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, supplementing with a mixture of omega-3 fatty acids (primarily EPA and DHA, found in fish oil) reduced the frequency of seizures in some epileptic patients.
Heart Attack
850 to, 1700 mg omega-3 fatty acids2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil may reduce the chances of having another heart attack.
Immune Function and Critically Ill Patients
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
For critically ill and hospitalized patients, supplementing with fish oil appears to increase immune function.
Immune Function and Post-Surgery Patients
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Most studies have reported that supplementing with omega-3s increases immune function in hospitalized post-surgery patients.
Intermittent Claudication

(Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Folic Acid, Oleic Acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E)
200 mg of EPA and 130 mg of DHA daily, plus small amounts of vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, oleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, men with intermittent claudication who drank a milk product fortified with fish oil, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, oleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid could walk further without pain than those who drank regular milk.
Macular Degeneration

(Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10)
Follow label directions2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, supplementing with a proprietary blend of acetyl-L-carnitine, fish oil, and coenzyme Q10 improved visual function in people with macular degeneration.
Multiple Sclerosis
6 to 20 grams daily2 stars[2 stars]
Several studies have shown fish oil to help reduce urinary incontinence, improve eyesight, and reduce relapse rate in people with relapsing-remitting MS.
Osteoporosis

(Evening Primrose Oil)
6 grams daily2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil combined with evening primrose oil (EPO) may improve calcium absorption and promote bone formation.
Phenylketonuria
125 mg of oil or 15 mg of docosahexaenoic acid per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight daily2 stars[2 stars]
The PKU diet is low in fatty acids, some of which are essential for proper brain development. Supplementing with fish oil may improve the deficiency.
Pre- and Post-Surgery Health
3.3 to 5 grams daily omega-3 fatty acids before and after surgery2 stars[2 stars]
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve recovery and prevent infection after surgery.
Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
2.7 to 6.1 mg daily of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA plus DHA)2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil (providing the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA) significantly reduced recurrence of premature delivery, according to one analysis.
Pregnancy and Prenatal Growth
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
The DHA found in fish oil is essential for the development of the visual system in infants.
Psoriasis
Take orally 10 grams daily oil or 3.6 grams daily EPA, or apply a 10% topical solution twice per day2 stars[2 stars]
Fish oil has been found to reduce the severity of psoriasis and improve skin lesions. It also may help prevent increased triglyceride levels that result from certain psoriasis drugs.
Raynaud’s Disease
4 grams of EPA per day2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil may reduce the severity of blood-vessel spasm.
Schizophrenia
2,000 to 3,000 mg daily of EPA2 stars[2 stars]
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids appear to be deficient or improperly used in people with schizophrenia. Supplementing with fish oil may correct an imbalance and improve symptoms.
Sickle Cell Anemia
250 mg of oil per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight daily2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil appears to reduce the frequency of severe pain episodes.
Tooth Decay
3 tsp per day of cod liver oil2 stars[2 stars]
One trial showed that children given cod liver oil for an entire school year had over 50% fewer new cavities.
Ulcerative Colitis
5.4 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with fish oil may help reduce inflammation and prevent relapses.
Alzheimer’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Fish oil may help slow the rate of cognitive decline in people with very mild impairment.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
In one study, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome reported an improvement in their symptoms after taking a supplement containing the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been linked to reduced risk of COPD.
Colon Cancer
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Several studies have found that supplementing with fish oil reduces markers for colon cancer risk.
Endometriosis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Fish oil may reduce the severity of endometriosis, and it has been shown to improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), which may be caused by endometriosis.
Glaucoma
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Inuit people, who eat large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, appear to have a much lower incidence of glaucoma than do Caucasians. One study found that cod liver oil (a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids) reduced intraocular pressure in animals.
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish, has been associated with lower risks of age-related macular degeneration.
Migraine Headache
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Fish oil containing EPA and DHA has been reported to reduce migraine headache symptoms. Fish oil may help because of its effects in modifying hormone-like substances called prostaglandins.
Osteoarthritis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil, EPA and DHA, have anti-inflammatory effects and may relieve pain.
Osteoporosis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with fish oil may improve calcium absorption and promote bone formation.
Photosensitivity
redundant1 star[1 star]
In one trial, supplementing with fish oil reduced photosensitivity in 90% of people suffering from polymorphous light eruptions.
Preeclampsia
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Fish oil supplementation may lower the incidence of preeclampsia.
Type 1 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with fish oil may improve glucose tolerance and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and nephropathy.
Type 2 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with fish oil may improve glucose tolerance and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and nephropathy

Copyright © 2014 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Aisle7.com

Learn more about Aisle7, the company.

Learn more about the authors of Aisle7 products.

The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.