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Fish Oil Pills - Once a Day or Three times a Day
November 5, 2006 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I've started to take Fish Oil pills and wonder about the prescribed guidelines. The directions say to take one pill three times a day (they are 1000mg's each BTW). It would be far more easy for me to take three at a time. Will I do any harm or will my body not be able to absorb all the goodness if I take them at once?
posted by mmascolino to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think it doesn't make any difference. I tried that a few years ago, only I got the stuff in liquid form and took it by spoon. I was told "once a day".

As it turns out, I didn't notice any difference from it, but your mileage may vary.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:50 PM on November 5, 2006


I think the general recommendation to take one tablet three times a day is to suggest taking one with each meal. Whether or not this has any real effect on your body's ability to absorb Omega 3 fatty acids or not, I doubt anyone knows with certianty. But what is known, is that a lot of people who swallow a bunch of fish oil at one time tend to burp "fishy" for some time thereafter. So, to avoid fish oil aftertaste, taking the pills one at a time, with other food, 3 times a day, is probably a better plan.

And I don't know that there is anything "magic" about 3000 mg of fish oil a day, as a supplemental recommendation, as opposed to 2000 or 1000 mg, as the 'right' amount for you would depend on what your total fat intake is on average, as an indication of whether the Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acid ratios are balanced. 3000 mg per day of fish oil seems like a lot, but I suppose it sells more fish oil...
posted by paulsc at 9:32 PM on November 5, 2006


Do you like the taste of bad fish? When I was taking fish oil pills (think it was the same dosage), if I took more than one at a time, the fish taste was overwhelming any time I had even a small burp...which was completely disgusting, but if I only took one pill at a time, it was much more tolerable.

Now I take flax seed oil instead, and don't ever have to worry about nasty fish stink!
posted by blind.wombat at 9:35 PM on November 5, 2006


My doctor didn't say there was anything wrong with taking my two doses at the same time. She did suggest that I freeze the pills, to prevent "fishy" burps.
posted by miss meg at 9:35 PM on November 5, 2006


If you take the kind that's fortified with vitamin E, that's supposed to cut down on the nasty burp after effect.

In addition, vitamin E also helps prevent the fat from being oxidized, which from what I've read, is a good thing.
posted by invisible ink at 9:52 PM on November 5, 2006


The vitamin e plus taking the fish oil with food can help with the fish burps. But yeah, taking a ton at once can lead to the burps more often - this is less common if you get a higher quality brand.

Oh yeah, keep em in the fridge or in a cabinet out of sunlight and heat.

I used to take 'em by the handful while dieting, and I grew used to the burps.

blind: Flax seed isn't really the same thing - your body has to do the conversion to EPA/DHA, instead of it being present straight away with fish oil. Flax seed is healthy and great on its own, but its not as effective as fish oil.
posted by rsanheim at 10:12 PM on November 5, 2006


Also, the enteric coated kind of fish oil also is supposed to reduce the fishy aftertaste.
posted by rsanheim at 10:14 PM on November 5, 2006


three words: urgent bowel syndrome.
posted by Rumple at 10:24 PM on November 5, 2006


Hello everyone!
This is more important than you might think.

Three times a day does provide maximum absorption, and it would resemble they way a human would intake the substance in pre-history.

It is as important as Vitamin C. While it might not kill you as fast, it will immediately begin to steal your health as soon as your not getting enough of it.

Seratonin, the brain chemical that regulates mood and prevents depression, can only be made from these essential fatty acids. Melatonin, the chemical in the limbic system of your brain that regulates your internal clock, can only be made from essential fatty acids. If you don't have melatonin, your body will not repair itself during sleep.

In addition, your immune system, your ability to repair your cells, and many other vital systems like your circulatory system, your nervous system, etc. etc., cannot function without this substance that your body cannot produce itself.

The fish breath is harsh
(taking with meals does much to prevent it),
but without out it
(its amazingly absent from our modern diet),
You rapidly become fat, ugly and stupid.
(it also prevents wrinkling and skin sag)

I'd rather have the bad breath. They make mouthwash and mints and stuff for that.
posted by SalvoSensu at 10:30 PM on November 5, 2006


I'll second the flax seed instead. Has a delightful nutty taste that is excellent on salads instead of olive oil. Heck. Bread. Pasta. Etc. No poo-problems. Yummy. Fish-burp-free! Give it a go. Just make sure to keep it chilllllllled.
posted by mmdei at 10:31 PM on November 5, 2006


three words: urgent bowel syndrome.

Four words: You made that up.

As if 3 grams of oil could somehow have any influence on your digestive tract. Get real.

As far as fishy burps, the internet tells me that that means your fish oil is rancid. Try chewing a capsule.
posted by trevyn at 10:33 PM on November 5, 2006


Yeah, what they said about reducing the fish burps. I took all of mine all at once & the fish burps were wicked bad from it. Never. Again. I break them into twice a day (I hate pills & suck at taking them & I can do once in the am & once in the pm, but more than that? I'll blow it off. This is too important to blow off) & I'm golden.

Also, my doc recommends keeping them in the freezer as that seems to help cut down on the fish burps too, for some reason (she didn't say why, but aside from the too much at once situation, I've not had a problem with them when keeping them in the freezer).

Interesting article I found when doing my research (yep, another damn librarian) when they were initially prescribed to me (high triglycerides & follow up testing shows that it is working for me) -- from the National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health: Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid.
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:16 PM on November 5, 2006


Seconding the enteric coated fish oil capsules to prevent fish burps. I used to get the gel pills and the enteric kind make a huge difference. If you get a huge jar at Sam's Club they can be had cheaply.

Also, for those replacing fish oil with flax, you might want to rethink - fish oil contains epa/dha which is what you really want, whereas flax contains a substance that the body converts to epa/dha at a relatively low rate of conversion. If you take flax instead of fish oil, you probably need to take a greater amount.
posted by btkuhn at 11:20 PM on November 5, 2006


The stuff I was taking (in liquid form) was flavored with cinnamon oil, so I didn't have any problem with fishy flavor or burps or whatever. I also don't recall it causing me any digestion problems.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:42 PM on November 5, 2006


Also, for those replacing fish oil with flax....

Get it while you can!
posted by IndigoJones at 5:40 AM on November 6, 2006


Um, actually, SalvoSensu is pretty damn wrong. Omega 3 may certainly be important, and it might be worth it to take pills if you don't eat much fish, but Omega 3 has nothing to do with serotonin or melatonin biosynthesis.

Neither serotonin or melatonin are made from "essential fatty acids"; take a look at their structures - they're both derived from tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid. While it's necessary to have tryptophan in your diet, it's found in many kinds of food [meat, dairy products, beans, nuts, etc. - basically most things with a little protein.] If your "modern diet" consists of, say, cabbage leaves and water, and no vitamin supplements, you may run into deficiency problems, but most people are probably getting enough tryptophan. If you actually were deficient, fish oil would be useless [unless tryptophan was a component], and you'd probably have pellagra.

[In case you're curious, here's how serotonin is made from tryptophan: first tryptophan hydroxylase adds an alcohol to the molecule, and then a decarboxylase enzyme removes the carboxyl group left over from the molecule's origins as an amino acid. Melatonin is made from serotonin; the primary amine is acetylated by serotonin-N-acetyltransferase and then the alcohol is methylated by hydroxyindole-O-methyltrasferase.]

The actual reasons for considering taking fish-based supplements are worthy enough; there's no need to resort to pseudo-scientific scaremongering.
posted by ubersturm at 6:23 AM on November 6, 2006


usbersturm - thank you for correcting that guy, so I don't have to do it.

The point is to get your Omega-3 fatty acids, and it doesn't matter where you get them from. Flax is as good as any, not matter what the merchants of expensive EFA blends want you to believe.

Also, your gut absorbs a great deal of bile every day, 3 grams of any kind of oil aren't going to make a difference, with meals or not.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:40 AM on November 6, 2006


Nature Made's Fish Oil promises no fish burps, and I gotta say, it's true. I can't even take Flax seed because of the fish burps, but this stuff's given me no problems.

Now, it also says it's odorless, and that's not true; the pills smell fishy, and they taste fishy, but those two situations are fairly avoidable (or easily shortened).

I see that they rely on, as rsanheim recommends, enteric coating.
posted by kimota at 7:32 AM on November 6, 2006


FWIW, I switched to Trader Joe's Omega 3 tablets (1200 mg) and the fishy burp problem went away almost completely. I take one a day and get an FB maybe once a week.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:54 AM on November 6, 2006


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