Fish Oil- How Much and Which, EPA or DHA?

fish_oil_pillsUse EPA predominant fish oil 2:1 or 3:1 ratio EPA/DHA for cardiovascular, neurodegeneration, psychiatry (depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.) for adults at doses of 2-4 grams a day for heart and neurological benefit and 1-2 grams a day for psychiatry.  Hence, I recommend 2 grams a day of mostly EPA fish oil for adults.

Fish oil has been found to be mood stabilizing for young children on par with the effectiveness of olanzapine and risperidone (higher EPA/DHA used).

For children with ADHD or neuropsychiatric issues,  high dose EPA/ DHA (3:1) takes 6 months or longer and will reduce to baseline ADHD symptoms (must be EPA dominant). The ideal ratio is likely 3/1 EPA/DHA at 500-1500 mg daily for ages 3+.  DHA dominant oils are for infants only, older kids need the higher EPA.

During pregnancy, taking fish oil reduces eczema and allergies in your child as they grow. Fish oil in pregnancy has been shown to help brain function, visual acuity, and hand-eye coordination (improved neurodevelopment).  Studies would suggest that even in pregnancy, moms should take at least 300 mg of DHA but have also at least 600 mg of EPA.  This protects mom from depression, and is more anti-inflammatory than just DHA oils.  Pregnant moms will selectively transfer the DHA component to the developing baby in the womb and through breast milk.

As far as the question of how much fish oil can you give a newborn or infant, looking at the amount supplemented in formula, we give infants DHA dominant fish oil with studies showing up to 200 mg DHA safe for 1 month olds and up to 400 mg DHA for a 6 month old. A study on 9 month olds showed no side effects from giving 9 month olds 700 mg DHA with over 1000 mg EPA .



Dr. Paul





  • Heather

    Dr. Paul, We started giving fish oil to our daughter with ADHD and found improvement in focus. BUT – she smelled like an aquarium. It was so bad that we couldn’t get the smell out of clothes and furniture no matter what we tried. We were using the fish oil supplements from your office (super high quality). Is there an alternative (like Flax) that you would recommend? Would love to know if there are any alternatives. Thank you for this blog post and all that you do!

  • Flax is occasionally effective but has to go through many stages of biochemistry to be converted to DHA and EPA and often that doesn’t happen well or at all. We now have an amazing fish oil by Alms at our office – emulsified so it absorbs quickly and no burping etc. and tastes like desert (come get a bottle or two) at the office

  • Tanya

    Dr. Paul, which fish oils would you recommend that are of very high quality and NON-flavored, and ideally without additional nutrients/vitamins added?

  • EPA and DHA, EPA and DHA ingredients manufacturer

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