Since we first published the Robb Wolf/Whole9 Fish Oil Calculator in February 2010, we’ve tracked more than 1,500,000 unique visitors to that page. We’ve also noted over the last year that clients, workshop attendees and readers have been reasonably compliant with taking their fish oil per the Calculator’s recommendations. However, we’re afraid they’ve been much less compliant in making aggressive changes to their diets and lifestyles – changes designed to naturally correct their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
You’ve Heard Us Say…
Those of you who’ve attended our Foundations of Nutrition workshops in the past year have heard us say, “You can’t fish oil your way out of crappy diet.” You’ve also heard us say, “If our Fish Oil Calculator says you need to take 117 pills a day, we highly recommend you immediately address your dietary and lifestyle factors.” But we still receive questions and comments from people relying far too heavily on fish oil as a fix-all, cure-all. We, and Robb Wolf (the brains behind the dose recommendations) thought it was high time to clarify our positions in the Calculator.
Supplement, Not Replacement
We’ve observed folks attempting to use high-dose fish oil as an “offset” for the poor quality food they continue to eat. Suffice it to say, that is not the way this stuff works. Fish oil is a supplement, designed to provide a helping hand in managing systemic inflammation. It’s not a replacement for making good dietary and lifestyle choices. So we’ve consulted with Robb Wolf to revise the recommendations, and make it outstandingly clear that we recommend you take high-dose fish oil only for a short period of time, and only while you’re making big changes to your diet and lifestyle. Once you’ve done that, you can quickly step down to a maintenance dose that will help you offset your (carefully controlled) omega-6 intake and manage any systemic inflammation that may still be present.
These recommendations, along with specific “fish oil factors” corresponding with high dose and maintenance doses, are now spelled out clearly in our new and improved Fish Oil Calculator. Click on over to arrive at your recommended daily amount, based on your bodyweight, dietary and lifestyle factors and specific brand of fish oil.
After your three weeks at a higher dose, if you still have “symptoms” of inflammation (obesity, autoimmune dysfunction, chronic injury, etc.), we still want you to drop down to the maintenance dose. Fish oil is not magic, and (like many things in life) a little is good, but overdoing it is no good at all. If you continue to work hard to manage the lifestyle and dietary factors that are perpetuating those ongoing symptoms, you will see improvement in your symptoms. Be patient – it took you years to arrive at this point, and three weeks isn’t going to be long enough to fix everything.
If you’ve been eating “Paleo” for a few weeks, managing your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (including lots of wild-caught, cold-water fish and grass-fed or pastured meats, limiting your nut and seed consumption and eliminating vegetable oils), sleeping enough, managing stress and not over-training, you might not need any fish oil supplementation at all. Ideally, we’d arrive at a natural, healthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 in our natural diets, and while you may find that difficult given your current situation, it’s certainly not impossible.
However, for those of us who generally meet the above criteria, but travel or dine out at restaurants on a regular basis, a steady maintenance dose might not be a bad idea. Most restaurants are using vegetable oils (like canola or soybean) rich in omega-6 for cooking, and serving lower quality (factory-farmed) meat, fish and eggs. Because of these factors, we still take a daily low (maintenance) dose of fish oil to help offset those unwanted (but often unavoidable) omega-6’s that we are exposed to while we’re away from home.
Visit our Fish Oil FAQ
If you’ve got additional questions about fish oil, where it comes from, how to use it, or which brand Whole9 uses and recommends, visit our comprehensive Fish Oil FAQ. We look forward to continuing to serve our community – and Robb’s – with the Fish Oil Calculator. Thanks for visiting.