Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for lowering overall systemic inflammation, optimizing brain health, and keeping your joints, skin, nails, and hair healthy.
Studies show that the average person’s diet provides just 1/10th of the EPA and DHA needed to preserve health and prevent disease – making it all that more important to supplement with. Below, you’ll find the best fish oil supplements for every type of person, backed by our expert health team.
1. HealthWise Omega Fish Oil
For those wanting the absolute best omega-3 supplement on the market, HealthWise is king. HealthWise’s 600 mg servings of pure DHA are more than double the daily suggested amount, and their maximum strength, 800 mg servings of pure EPA are almost quadruple the daily suggested amount.
If that’s not enough, it’s made of 100% all-natural ingredients, uses sustainable fish oil sources, and comes from GMP-certified processing practices. For these reasons, it’s our #1 pick.
2. Optima Omega 3 by Nuzena
Optima Omega-3 + is a natural formula specifically designed by health professionals to provide optimal omega-3 support for your mental and physical wellbeing. While not as potent as HealthWise, Nuzena shines in delivering exceptional value.
It helps support your joints, skin, and brain health.
OmegaXL is one the only supplements on the market to have its own clinical studies back its efficacy. In a study of 50 participants, the group taking the active ingredient in Omega XL, the lipid extract from the New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel, showed an 89% improvement in joint pain due to inflammation.
If that’s not enough, OmegaXL has over 30 years of research (from places like Harvard and the Mayo Clinic) to back up its effectiveness.
4. Triton by Legion Athletics
Triton by Legion Athletics is sourced from deepwater Peruvian anchovies and sardines caught by fisheries that are approved by Friend of the Sea.
It contains 2,400 milligrams of EPA and DHA per serving, and has been processed using enhanced molecular distillation to reduce toxins and chemicals.
5. ATP Labs Omega Pure
Per serving, Omega pure contains a whopping 4650mg of Omega 3 fatty acids (2088 EPA and 1044 DHA), with low mercury and PCB toxins.
Being in liquid form, it’s not the easiest supplement to take and the fish burps that can come with it aren’t pretty either.
6. Dr Tobias Omega Fish Oil
With the enteric coating and vitamin E, this triple strength fish oil is engineered from the ground up for maximum absorption while limiting fishy burps. It also passes through rigorous tests to ensure purity.
It’s a good option if you want a simple, no-nonsense fish oil supplement, and its quality is good.
7. Omega 3 Fish Oil by Arazo Nutrition
Each serving provides 2250 mg of omega 3 fatty acids, and of these, almost all of it is EPA and DHA (1200 mg and 900 mg, respectively).
As indicated on the label, the fish oil is extracted from deepwater ocean fish. They also use a special extraction method to get the absolute most EPA and DHA out of it.
8. Omega 3 Fish Oil By Sports Research
Omega 3 fish oil by sports research is the most ethically sourced fish oil we know of.
It’s certified Sustainable and Traceable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the first omega-3 concentrate to achieve this distinction and encapsulated in fish gelatin capsule.
9. NutriGold Triple Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil
Each softgel contains 1250 mg of fish oil; 1060 mg of this (88%) is omega 3 fatty acids. Of these, EPA and DHA account for 750 and 250 mg each.
They’ve also completely eliminated any soy, which a bonus in our books.
10. WHC UnoCardio X2 Omega-3
If you want a fish oil supplement that really knocks it out of the park, look no further than UnoCardio X2. Each capsule provides a full 1150 mg of omega 3 fatty acids, and contain rosemary extract and tocopherol, which act as a natural preservative.
It contains no beef gelatin, so it’s safe for pescatarians.
How We Ranked
Since fish oil is so popular, there were a variety of factors to consider to weed out the true winners and losers. The first thing we looked at was where and how was the fish oil sourced. Almost all products that did not come from small cold-water fish in the wild were eliminated.
The reason being is that heavy metals and toxins tend to accumulate inside the fat of bigger fish. So if we were to consume their oil, we’d be taking in more toxins and heavy metals than necessary. The second step after was determining which products tested for purity. Any product that did not, was dropped.
The third thing we looked at was the extra ingredients added to the product. Anything with fillers, dye’s and other nonsense were banned. We don’t need any of that nonsense in our bodies.
Fourth we looked at the amount and ratio of EPA and DHA per serving and per bottle. Many products might have a lot of fish oil, but low amounts of the important EPA and DHA fatty acids. The ratio to EPA:DHA was less important for us than the amount. Anything under 70% EPA and DHA was dismissed. At this point, it became clear which were the winners and losers. The last thing to consider was price. While lower prices were favoured, quality is still king. We were looking for a balance of excellent quality and fair price. This is where HealthWise shined.
1. Fish oil supports a healthy heart. Eating fish is highly correlated to lower rates of heart disease (1, 2). The reason is because of high rates in fish oil that works to decrease risk factors for heart disease through a few different mechanisms.
2. Fish oil is seen to improve cholesterol levels. Fish oil does increase your HDL cholesterol, often referred to as the good cholesterol but it doesn’t reduce the levels of LDL (known as ‘bad’) cholesterol (3, 4, 5).
Further, fish oil supplementation is seen to lower your levels of triglycerides by about 23% (6, 7). Aside from improving blood lipid profiles, fish oil is proven to reduce high blood pressure levels down to moderate and even normal levels of blood pressure (8, 9).
3. Fish oil can prevent your arteries from being clogged with plaques (10).
In the case that you already have plaques in your arteries, fish oil can help make them more stable so that they don’t burst and cause a coronary event (11).
4. Fish oil can reduce the occurrence of heart attacks. Especially those with abnormal heart rhythms (12). Despite all these benefits to fish oil supplementation, there is no concrete proof that that fish oil can prevent heart attack or stroke (13).
5. Fish oil works to treat certain mental disorders. Structurally, your brain is composed largely of fat, nearly 60% by weight, a majority of this fat consists of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s been seen that omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oils, are essential for normal brain function (14).
Research shows that without adequate levels of fish oil in the brain, you’re likely to have or develop certain mental disorders (15).
6. Fish oil supplementation can improve body composition. Obesity, defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 30, show a significantly higher risk of other diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (22, 23, 24).
Fortunately, research shows that consuming fish oil supplements can work to improve body composition as well as the associated risk factors for heart disease in obese individuals (25).
This effect is increased by adding diet or exercise to a fish oil supplementation regimen (26). By itself, fish oil is not seen to cause weight loss.
A large review of 21 different studies discovered that while fish oil doesn’t cause weight loss, it does change anthropometric measurements such as waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, which are both strongly correlated with heart disease (27).
7. Fish oil supports eye health and protects your vision. Your eyes use omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, as important structural components. In fact, when subjects do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids research shows these individuals have an increased risk of various eye diseases (28).
Even more important, as you age the health of your eyes is seen to gradually decline, leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
By consuming fish oil, you’re able to prevent this from occurring (29). Specifically, research illustrates that consuming a high dose fish oil supplement for over four months led to improvements in vision in AMD patients (30).
8. Fish oil can reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is key to fighting infection and healing injuries throughout your body. The issue with inflammation is that it can occur chronically at low levels because chronic inflammation is seen to increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease (33, 34, 35).
Decrease levels of inflammation in people at risk for these same disorders can work to improve the symptoms of these patients. The fats in fish oil are seen to reduce chronic inflammation to reduce the severity of disease that involve chronic inflammation (36).
One example of this is that fish oil can lower levels of cytokines, or inflammatory molecules, in individuals that are stressed or obese (37).
Further, when subjects with rheumatoid arthritis supplement with fish oil, they see a reduction in joint pain, stiffness, and prescription medications (38).
9. Fish oil can improve your skin health. Your skin is another organ that contains many omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Like your eyes and brain, the health of your skin is seen to decrease with age- especially in response to sun exposure.
10. Fish oil plays a key role in improving the health of the fetus. If you’re pregnant, then know that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for early growth and development of your child (41).
One study showed that pregnant or breastfeeding mothers taking a fish oil supplement had children with improved hand and eye coordination compared to the infants of mothers who didn’t take fish oil supplements (42).
The effect of the infant’s ability to learn was not clear from this study (43). However, maternal supplementation of fish oil is seen to improve visual development in infants as well as reduce the risk of allergies (44, 45).
11. Fish oil can lower levels of liver fat. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming America’s top silent killer (46).
Because your liver works to process fat in your body, it influences weight gain (47).
Studies show that supplementing with fish oil, to increase these low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce the symptoms of depression (52, 53). It seems that EPA, a specific fatty acid in fish oil, is more effective than another long-form omega-3 fatty acid, known as DHA, in reducing the symptoms of depression (54).
13. Fish oil can improve focus and attention in children. Researchers hypothesized that since omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health, that giving them to children can prevent behavioral disorders early in life (55).
14. Fish oil reduces the risk of allergies in children and infants. Levels of allergies and asthma are on the rise, especially in infants (58). Fortunately, research in fish oil strongly supports that fish oil can significantly lower asthma symptoms (59, 60).
Specifically, research done on almost 100,000 subjects show that the intake of fish oil by the mother can lower the risk of asthma in her children by up to 29% (61). Similarly, the risk of allergies in infants is significantly reduced (62).
15. Fish oil can increase your bone density. Bones decay with age and poor nutrition leading to diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, fish oil is seen to be of great benefit to your bones.
First, a correlation was discovered where those with higher fish oil intakes had greater bone mineral density (63). Further research shows that fish oil supplementation lowers the levels of bone breakdown, which shows promise in preventing bone disease (64).
1. Fish oil supplements can be linked to prostate cancer in men. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study relating high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids to the incidence of prostate cancer.
834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer were studied and found that those with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids saw a 43% increased risk of developing cancer when compared to the men with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid concentration (65).
2. Fish oil supplements may affect blood sugar. Omega 3’s can stimulate the production of glucose, which can lead to high levels of blood glucose. A 1989 study involving diabetics showed a 22% increase in blood glucose with individuals taking 8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per day (66).
3. Fish oil can decrease blood clotting. One small study published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed that 72% of adolescents taking 1-5g of fish oil per day experienced nosebleeds as a side effect (67).
Another 2013 study showed that supplementing with 640 mg of fish oil per day over a four-week period decreased blood clotting in 56 healthy adults (68).
4. Fish oil can lower blood pressure. An analysis of 31 studies concluded that omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, which is beneficial for those with high blood pressure but may interfere with certain medications and cause problems for those on the opposite end of the spectrum (69).
A separate 2015 study of 90 people on dialysis found that taking 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day significantly decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to a placebo (70).
5. Fish oil can cause insomnia. Although moderate doses of fish oil have been shown to improve sleep quality, one case study suggests that taking large amounts caused insomnia. In the study, symptoms of insomnia and anxiety worsened for a patient with a history of depression (71).
6. Fish oil can cause IBS like symptoms. A common side effect of fish oil is diarrhea, especially in large doses. Fish oil can also cause other IBS like symptoms such as nausea and flatulence (72).
7. Fish oil can cause vitamin A overdose. Vitamin A toxicity can cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, joint pain and skin irritation. Long term, it could also lead to liver damage and even liver failure in severe cases (73).
Certain types of omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as cod liver oil, are high in vitamin A. For this reason, it’s best to pay close attention to the vitamin A content of your omega-3 supplement and keep your dosage moderate.
8. Fish oil can cause acid reflux. Fish oil is high in fat and may cause acid reflux symptoms such as belching, nausea, indigestion and heartburn in some people (74).
Sticking to a moderate dose and taking supplements with meals can often effectively reduce acid reflux and relieve symptoms. Additionally, splitting your dose into a few smaller portions throughout the day may help eliminate indigestion.
300mg of EPA and DHA is a good starting point.The amount of EPA and DHA recommended depend on your age and health. 300mg is a good starting point. From there if you do not see benefits especially if you’re an athlete, pregnant, nursing, or at risk of heart disease (75).
Choose fish oils that are processed via the reesterified triglyceride oil process. It may be slightly more expensive, but has a higher bioavailability than other options. The amount of fish oil is different from the amount of essential fatty acids. Many supplements contain a gram of fish oil but only 300 mg of EPA and DHA.
Always read the label and make sure your supplement has at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000 mg of fish oil. Choose a supplement that is ‘third party tested’ to avoid substandard supplements. Especially since fish oils are prone to oxidation.
Furthermore, choosing a supplement with vitamin E as well as storing your supplements in a dark cold place, like your fridge, will lead to a longer shelf life. Don’t use a fish oil supplement that has a rancid smell or is out of date.
Fish oil is a fat so it is best absorbed during meals that contain other fats (76).
Is fish oil good for your skin? The fatty acids in fish oil supply hydration to your skin and help with inflammation.
Is fish oil good for your joints? One-to-three grams of fish oil each day can help reduce the intensity of joint symptoms like morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort.
Is fish oil good for hair growth? Nourishing your skin means that fish oil also nourishes your scalp, which could indirectly benefit the health of your hair. And a study published in the “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” in 2015 reported that a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids might help with hair thinning.
When should you take fish oil? Fatty acid supplements like fish oil may actually cause gastric distress and indigestion when consumed immediately prior to a big workout. For this reason, you should take a fish oil at the same time you take your multivitamin, with your primary meal of the day.
Can you take fish oil on an empty stomach There’s no best time to take omega 3 fish oil but omega 3 supplements are more easily tolerated with food than on an empty stomach. They are also better absorbed with food. As such it’s recommended you take it with food.
Can you use fish oil for cooking? Unfortunately, due to fish oil’s very high concentration of polyunsaturated fats, fish oil should never be used for cooking.
What are the side effects of fish oil? Fish oil can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals or freezing them can often decrease these side effects.
Are omega 3 and fish oil the same thing? No, fish oil is an especially rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are also found in flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy greens. Research has shown that certain omega-3s reduce the risk of a second heart attack and lower heart-attack risk in healthy people. But fish oil contains other fatty acids and fats, too.
Does fish oil help sexually? Fish oil can improve cardiovascular health and lower triglycerides as well as possibly increase dopamine production which are all pluses for your libido.
Are there any side effects to taking fish oil? Fish oil can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals can often decrease these side effects.
Does fish oil help you lose weight? Fish oil omega-3s may help you lose inches and shed body fat. However, studies have found these effects appear to be modest, and they may not apply to everyone.
Does fish oil make your pee smell? Taking fish-oil supplements can cause the skin, breath, and urine to have a fishy smell.
Does fish oil detox the body? Fish oils are highly anti-inflammatory and assist with hormonal balance. They also moisten the skin from the inside out and have been proven to aid weight loss. Fish oil also supports your immune system to function at its best, and helps to clear away any toxic build-up.
Does fish oil speed up metabolism? The omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found only in fish oils effect leptin, a hormone that regulates metabolism rate. Eating certain types of cold-water fish has been shown to boost metabolism by as much as 400 calories per day.
Does fish oil have side effects? Side effects are rare when fish oil is taken at the recommended doses. However, fish oil can reduce blood clotting and therefore is contraindicated if you’re taking blood-thinning medications, aspirin, warfarin, or clopidogrel. If you’re using any of these medications, it’s best to check with your doctor before supplementing with fish oil. Fish oil should not be supplemented with before surgery for this reason as well.
Can I just eat fish regularly instead of taking a fish oil supplement? Yes, but you’d have to eat 1 to 2 servings of fatty fish every day to get your 2 to 3 grams of EPA and DHA every day (where you want it to be, ideally). Many people don’t enjoy fish enough to want to do this, but even if you do, there’s another problem: most fish rich in omega-3s also contain high levels of pollutants and toxins. Hence the popularity of high-quality fish oil supplements. They give you all the benefits of increasing EPA and DHA intake while minimizing your exposure to the toxins.
Can fish oil be bad for you? Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of the diet and supplements like fish oil have been associated with a number of health benefits. However, consuming too much fish oil could actually take a toll on your health and lead to side effects such as high blood sugar and an increased risk of bleeding.
Why do bodybuilders take fish oil? One of the most important health benefits of fish oil supplements is the effect it has on your heart. Fish oil works to prevent plaque build-up in your heart and can also lower your blood pressure. In terms of bodybuilding, maintaining a healthy heart is important to support your body during intense workout sessions.
Are large fish good to use for fish oil? Companies that have fish oil from large, predatory fish (such as tuna, king mackerel, and swordfish can contain high levels of toxins. Instead, you should purchase fish oil from a company that uses small fish. Research shows that small, cold-water, non-predatory fish like anchovy, sardine, and certain types of mackerel are particularly good in this regard.
Are all fish supplements equal? What most people don’t know, though, is not all fish oil supplements are made equally. Most fish oil supplements are made in 3 ways: natural triglycerides, ethyl ester, and reesterified triglyceride.
Natural triglyceride oils can have much higher levels of contaminants than ethyl ester and reesterified triglyceride oils (due to the low level of processing). Furthermore, natural triglyceride oils are often low in EPA and DHA when compared to ethyl ester and reesterified triglyceride oils, which means you have to take more to see results.
Ethyl ester oils are the most popular because they are the cheapest to produce. Ethyl ester fish oil oxidizes (goes bad) more quickly and easily at all temperatures than triglyceride fish oil.
Reesterified triglyceride oil has high amount of EPA and DHA, and is resistant to going bad. It also has a very high bioavailability, which the amount it’s absorbed in the body (124% higher than even the natural triglyceride form and a whopping 170% higher than ethyl ester oil). This makes it the gold standard with fish oil supplements.
For best results, make sure your fish oil comes from small, cold-water fish and is a reesterified triglyceride. It may be more expensive, but is well worth the price tag.
Fish oil supplements are very important for overall body health. They have been shown to boost brain function, improve your skin and hair as well as take care of your joints. Fish oils with a high EPA and DHA are the most beneficial to the body. Remember, your body cannot produce EPA or DHA so they must be consumed from an outside source. Fish oil is one of the best sources.
Fish oil can cause side effects such as IBS like symptoms, low blood pressure and excessive bleeding. It can also interact with certain medications (especially blood pressure medications) as well as cause vitamin a toxicity – depending on the source of the fish oil. As such, you should always consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
For Healthtrends #1 recommended fish oil, click here.