Why we stopped recommending fish oil: It may be good for you, but being told to take it isn’t.

For years, health authorities have been telling us to eat fish twice a week, and supplement with fish oil supplements to protect against cardiovascular disease. Recent research has, however, raised doubts about the benefits of high dose supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, and some countries have even banned fish oil on the basis of this evidence.

For many years, the recommended daily dose of fish oil for adults ranged from 500mg to 2,000mg. Other studies found as little as 400mg daily was sufficient. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the recommended daily dose of fish oil is much lower than the dose needed to be effective. In fact, in the largest clinical trial on fish oils to date, an average dose of only 1,630mg (2 tsp) daily was found to be effective. This is less than 2% of the recommended daily dose for the entire population. To put this in context, an average consumption of 2,000mg daily is approximately 5% of the recommended daily intake of 6,000mg for most adults.

In the past year, we’ve seen a number of new research articles on fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Sometimes we see them from the same journals and researchers, and sometimes they show up in completely different journals and from different authors.. Read more about side effects when you stop taking fish oil and let us know what you think.

Fish oil is a fantastic supplement that has been shown to assist the majority of people. Regardless, here’s why we revised our fish oil recommendations.


When you were a kid, do you recall getting summoned to the principal’s office?

You were caught putting gum in someone’s hair, passing a letter, or launching a paper airplane behind your math teacher’s back.

Uh oh.

You’re in a lot of trouble now. Just wait until your parents discover the truth.

That’s how I felt when PN co-founder Dr. John Berardi called me on the carpet and demanded an explanation after I removed fish oil, multivitamins, and probiotics from the company’s nutrition coaching courses.

Well, no, not really.

(Perhaps a little.)

Our go-to supplement was fish oil.

Clients used to begin their PN Coaching adventure with an immediate supplement habit. The following were our standard instructions:

Take a multivitamin or probiotic together with omega-3 fatty acids (typically liquid fish oil). Begin right now. Do it on a daily basis.

How to choke down spoonfuls of fish oil, deal with the aquarium-flavored burps, and debate with doctors and pharmacists who harrumphed about our recommended amount became a running joke among coaches and clients.

Fish oil shots, fluorescent yellow pee (a strange consequence of the B vitamins in multivitamin formulations), and other digestive difficulties induced by this sudden torrent of good-for-you pills and potions in the GI tract brought clients together. 

We’d done our homework as a research-based firm.

We already knew omega-3 fatty acids were beneficial.

Before recommending omega-3, probiotics, and multivitamin supplements to our clients, we combed through hundreds of studies.

We already knew that the majority of people were low in fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial gut microbes.

We also knew there was a substantial link between a person’s metabolism and their microbiota.

So we knew that supplementing with reasonably high dosages of these would jump-start better health and fat loss in the vast majority of clients.

Clients noted improvements in their skin, spirits, and vitality after using these vitamins for a period. Inflammation and joint pain decreased. Periods are less painful. Clients who had their blood tested discovered that cholesterol and sugar levels had improved.

Almost everything seemed to improve as a result of PN’s supplement suggestions.

Then we made a U-turn.

These supplement habits were no longer assigned.

Many returning customers inquired, “Where is the fish oil?”

What caused us to alter our recommendations?

Let me give you an example.

Let’s pretend I know a wonderful person.

This individual is intelligent, attractive, and humorous, with a diverse range of interests. They have a rewarding and well-paying career, but they are never too preoccupied to enjoy life.

They are well-dressed, odor pleasant, and do not snore. They enjoy cooking, are gentle with children and animals, can dance like John Travolta in 1977, and provide fantastic foot rubs.

They’re mature in their emotions and easy to get along with. Without being reminded, they always remember to pick up their socks and gladly take out the trash.

This is the person you should marry.

In fact, you must marry this somebody right now. Today.

GO FOR IT. Now. It’s something we’re all hoping for from you. GO.

What exactly is your issue? This individual is a fantastic find!

We’re all in agreement: you need to get married right away!! It’s for your own benefit! Don’t you want to be healthy and happy?

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, who There, take it easy.

Notice how you become a little hesitant when a wonderful thing becomes a “had to” and “should” and “right now” and “do it because we said so”?

Who is this mysterious figure? They sound interesting… but… First, I’d like to learn a little more about them. Of course, I have faith in your judgement, PN, but… I’m feeling a little rushed right now.

That’s how our clients felt when we told them they needed to take fish oil, probiotics, and multivitamins right now.

It was all too much, and it came at an inopportune time.

They speak what we say.

To us coaches, taking fish oil and other supplements was obvious and simple: As health-conscious, fitness-oriented researchers who make a livelihood knowing about this stuff, using fish oil and other supplements was obvious and easy:

  • We were familiar with the term “fish oil.”
  • We could see why it was significant.
  • We’d looked into it and read the research.
  • We’d seen how it could benefit both ourselves and our clients.
  • We knew just where to look for it.
  • We had figured out how to deal with it.
  • We had a good idea of how it tasted and which brands were the best.
  • The most of us were already taking it.

We’d all been taking fish oil for so long that it was second nature to us.

Finally, we noticed that majority of our clients didn’t find this information apparent or simple:

  • Isn’t it true that you may acquire oil from fish?
  • What exactly does it do? Is that something I really need?
  • What store do you get that from?
  • That is not available in my small town. To get to the nearest health food store, I’ll have to drive 20 miles.
  • Isn’t it revolting to eat? What do they do with a can of tuna? Blend it? Gross!
  • There are X mg of EPA/DHA in this bottle. Is that correct? What about a dose of EPA/DHA of Y mg?
  • How about flaxseed oil? Isn’t that fantastic?
  • The dose is too high, according to my doctor/pharmacist.
  • I’m pregnant, nursing, or using other drugs, among other things. Is fish oil safe to consume? 

We were perplexed as to why our patrons were being so “aggressive.” Why didn’t they pay attention to us, the PN geniuses?

We’d forgotten how it felt to be a customer.

One size fits everybody… oops

We’d forgotten that in order to grasp, support, and execute the fish oil habit regularly, our clients needed to learn, know, and do a slew of things.

It was far too much, far too soon, at the start of a program already brimming with new things — new software, new workouts, new people, new coach, new way of eating, and so on.

Our customers were already jittery. They were unsure about themselves. With the baggage of previous diet failures. And I’m dealing with a lot of change.

It was bound to fail to ask them to complete a task that was actually quite difficult.

And it would be our fault if we failed.

Consider it this way:

Perhaps our wonderful marriage prospect is a man. And you’re not a fan of men. Or perhaps you’re 19 and aren’t quite ready to settle down just yet.

Similarly, perhaps your stomach disagrees with fish oil, or you suffer from acne as a result of fish oil, or you are allergic to fish and other seafood.

Perhaps you’re one of the few people who shouldn’t take fish oil because you’re on blood thinners or other medications, or you’re prone to bruising or retinal detachment.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all partner, nor is marriage the optimal arrangement for everyone. Even if the other person is extraordinary.

Similarly, there is no such thing as a universal habit.

Giving a few thousand people the same supplement as the first in a lengthy, overwhelming chain of new habits was not a wise strategy, even if the supplement is generally safe and well-proven.

We had generated resistance to something that could have been a significant benefit to most clients by generalizing.


Don’t tell; instead, lead.

Finally, as our knowledge of behavioral psychology grew, we discovered that instructing people what to do, particularly when there is a sense of urgency, runs against the human mind’s hardwiring.

People despise being told what they should do. We worry or resist intuitively when a “maybe” becomes a “must.”

We require time to digest and examine information – to learn, comprehend, and determine for ourselves whether or not a particular habit is appropriate for us.

So it was back to the drawing board for us. We studied human motivation and behavioral psychology for our homework.

We discovered that in order to ensure our clients’ success, we must assist them in feeling:

  • secure and safe
  • autonomous
  • as if what they’re doing has value and purpose
  • encouraged and aided
  • as if they had the freedom to travel at their own speed
  • They are free to pick their own route, with expert assistance accessible as needed.

Take a look at the owner’s manual.

The owner’s manual concept, which is currently used throughout PN’s coaching programs, can be thought of as “handling instructions for your life.”

And you’re the one who comes up with the handling directions. That is not the case with us.

Instead of telling clients what to do right away and pressuring them to do it, we now question them:

  • What exactly are you looking for?
  • What are you attempting to accomplish? What can we do to assist you in getting there?
  • What are the things that are most important to you?
  • Which of these choices would you choose if you had to choose? Why?
  • What are you willing to do and what are you not willing to undertake right now?
  • What would make a certain habit work right now for you?

We understand that seemingly basic activities for us (such as maintaining a healthy kitchen or exercising consistently) are actually quite complicated behaviors for our clients. It would take us a long time to develop the talents that are second nature to them (such software design, knitting, or ice sculptures), just as it would take us a long time to develop the skills that are second nature to them.

Each skill must be mastered in stages and broken down into small chunks.

We now split jobs down into smaller chunks and acquire skills over time. Each is an experiment rather than a “rule.”

Clients get to choose for themselves with each tiny piece:

  • Is this the best option for me right now?
  • If that’s the case, how can I do it consistently and effectively?
  • If not, how can I modify it to meet my requirements?

There’s good news! This new strategy was well received by our clients. They’re happier, more calm, and looking forward to taking control of their own destiny.

Is fish oil, then, “bad”?

You might be wondering what this implications for fish oil and the other supplements we recommend.

For the most part, fish oil is still a good complement.

In our PN Coaching program, we still prescribe it, along with probiotics, multivitamins, and other tried-and-true supplements like protein powder and essential amino acids (EAAs).

However, it is no longer a necessary habit for everyone. It’s a possibility.

Instead, we concentrate on:

  • Developing abilities, essential behaviors, and persistent routines that can assist people in learning and performing any habit
  • assisting people in understanding how to choose healthy behaviors that match their needs, desires, and lifestyles

It doesn’t matter how amazing a supplement, task, or workout program is — and we think fish oil is excellent — if clients can’t or won’t use it, or if it doesn’t meet their demands.

What should I do next?

You (or your “difficult” customer) may recognize yourself (or your “difficult” clientele) if you’re a seasoned fitness expert or even just starting off with a client or two.

There are actions you can take to improve how you convey new habits to clients and raise their chances of success.

(Of course, if you’re not a fitness professional, you may use all of these methods to coach yourself.)

Recognize that resistance is a two-way street.

By telling them, pressuring them, rushing them, directing them, or demanding too much of them all at once, you’re unknowingly building resistance in your clientele.

Are you assigning them duties that are too difficult to do without allowing them to ask questions, express concerns, or clarify that the activities are manageable?

Keep in mind that the majority of your clientele aren’t you.

If you’re reading this and you’re a fitness pro (or considering becoming one), you undoubtedly prioritize exercise and proper nutrition.

You’re not like the rest of us. (Sorry.)

Your clients have a variety of skill sets, lives, and requirements.

First and first, understand, observe, and learn about your clients.

What are their names? What do they require and desire? What can they do with confidence and competence?

Examine them thoroughly, and spend the majority of your time listening rather than speaking.

Allow your customers to “choose and choose” from a menu.

Offer two or three solutions that can be tweaked to meet the demands and abilities of your client. Allow them to choose (or suggest) and then collaborate on how to complete the work.

Your clients’ sense of self-efficacy and autonomy will improve as a result of this. They are far more inclined to do those activities when they feel in control of their decisions (and to achieve their health and fitness goals).

“Ready, willing, and able” is a test.

Test your client’s readiness, willingness, and ability to complete each new activity or modification.

Your client should have at least 90% confidence in their ability to perform the work. If you don’t get the 9 out of 10 commitment, reduce or modify the work until you do.

Recognize and acknowledge your own ego investment.

When our clients didn’t quickly jump through our hoops, we pouted and scoffed. Were they unaware that we were the experts?

Then we understood we’re here to assist and guide people, not to be all-knowing dictators.

To put it another way, we went from being coach-centric (i.e., showing our “rightness” or establishing our authority) to becoming client-centric (i.e. helping our clients find the right path for them).

Make an effort to coach yourself.

Enroll in the Certification program to gain a better grasp of how to interact effectively with clients.

Alternatively, you could enroll in our PN Coaching program.

The issue with fish oil is that it is widely but wrongly used as a dieting tool. Fad diets, and some doctors, are pushing fish oil as a weight loss supplement and for this reason it is used in a way that makes it hard to tell if it is the right thing for you. Here are a couple points to consider:. Read more about does fish oil make you smell down there and let us know what you think.

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Fish oil supplements are not recommended because they contain high levels of mercury.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”Is fish oil actually good for you?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are fish oil supplements not recommended?

Fish oil supplements are not recommended because they contain high levels of mercury.

Is fish oil actually good for you?

Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and development.

Should I take fish oil if I have high cholesterol?

Fish oil is a supplement that can help lower your cholesterol. However, it has not been proven to be effective in lowering your cholesterol or preventing heart disease.

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