10 Best Fish Oil Supplements Tested and Reviewed
There are a multitude of benefits linked to consuming Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Among heart health, skin care, and brain function, these fatty acids go a long way in supporting the human body to work at its highest and best functionality. When it comes to running, finding something that allows for being in optimum condition with minimal recovery time and enhanced performance capability is ideal and frequently sought after by athletes. Omega 3 Fatty Acids can provide these benefits for runners, as well as a number of other positive results.
While the body itself is incapable of making these beneficial fatty acids, they can be found in food items like avocados, nuts, chia seeds and fish. The Omega 3s are found in three types: Eicoaspentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alphalinolenic acid (ALA). The human body can only use the first two, EPA and DHA, and is inefficient at converting the third, ALA, into a form it can use. Since ALA is the fatty acid found in the more commonly consumed foods like seeds and nuts, finding a way to obtain enough EPA and DHA can be difficult. This problem is can be solved by finding a quality supplement that provides the right amount of Omega 3s for your body to work at its best and is where Fish Oil Supplements come into play.
Supplementing a diet with EPA and DHA can help athletic performance by speeding recovery, as they act as anti-inflammatories. They can also increase the process by which muscles transform protein, improve cognitive function related to reaction time and increase oxygen delivery to the heart muscle, allowing the body to work less hard to provide oxygen for exercise. While reading about the benefits is easy, finding the right supplement to obtain them can be difficult.
After researching many brands currently on the market, we have created a top 10 list of Fish Oil Supplements to help you get the best results in the easiest, most affordable way possible.
10 Best Fish Oil Supplements
- Viva Naturals Omega 3
- High potency
- Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold
- No fillers
- Brain Power Plus Omega 3
1. Viva Naturals Omega 3
85% of the fish oils in this product is from EPA and DHA. In fact, this product boasts an EPA to DHA ratio of almost 3 to 1. It has one of the highest potency and EPA/DHA ratios on the market.
While this product does not contain corn, egg, wheat or milk, it does contain bovine, meaning the gelatin in the capsules comes from an animal source like pigs or cows. Its mercury levels are well below standard limits.
This product is predominately sold online through its brand website or third party resource like Amazon and does not rank high on accessibility as far as reaching on the shelf in a brick and mortar store.
Consumers need to take two capsules per day to reach the advertised 2200mg of fish oil.
With its high potency formula, high EPA to DHA ratio, and cost of 38 cents per serving, or less than 20 cents a pill, this product provides tremendous value to those looking for a high strength supplement at a fair price.
- High potency
- Reasonable price
- Low levels of toxins
- Large pill size can make these difficult to swallow
3. Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold
Almost 77% of the oils in this product come from the Omega-3 Fatty Acids, as well as an above average ratio of 2.6 EPA to DHA.
This product is non-GMO verified, as well as gluten free, peanut free and soy free. It also contains bovine gelatin, meaning it has animal part derivatives, but has extremely low levels of mercury and PCBs.
This product can be found for purchase on a variety of online resources, but you would be hard pressed to find it at your local store.
Those looking to receive the full benefit of the product should take two pills per day to reach the total 2100mg dose.
According to multiple reviews, this product has recently undergone a price increase. At 26 cents a pill, or just over 50 cents a serving, this product offers a fair price that is a bit higher than the #1 supplement listed. However, the combined potency and quality still make it a good option for consumers.
- No fillers
- International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) 5-star certified
- Price has increased and the product used to be an even better value than current market price.
3. Brain Power Plus Omega 3
93% of the fatty acids in this supplement are found in the combination of EPA and DHA. The ratio of EPA to DHA is approximately 1.3.
Purity: This product is all natural, GMO-free, soy free, and has contaminant levels well below detection limits.
This product will not be found in stores and consumers will have to click to order it via Amazon or the brand’s website.
Two total pills per day, taken in two servings to reach a daily dose of 1500mg for the product.
At less than 28 cents a serving, Brain Power Plus Omega 3 provides an enticing price point without sacrificing potency.
- Pork free
- Difficult to swallow
- Lower overall fatty acid content per serving
4. Dr. Tobias Triple Strength Omega 3
70% of this product is made of fish oils, with an EPA to DHA ratio of 1.3
This product contains soy and has a mercury content higher than other products on this list, making it not as pure a version as higher placed contenders.
While it seems this product used to be sold at other retailers, it is now found through online platforms, meaning consumers cannot get it at their local store.
At 16 cents a pill, or 32 cents a serving consumers can get quite a high dose of fish oils at an affordable price point.
The bottle indicates a serving of two softgels per day to reach 2000 mg of fish oils.
- Enteric coating for better absorption
- Consumers who want to avoid soy should avoid this product
- The higher levels of toxins found may deter a purchaser
5. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
With over 50 percent of the product’s fatty acids coming from EPA and DHA and a ratio of 1.4 EPA to DHA, this product offers a better than average potency.
This product does not contain gluten or milk derivatives, artificial colors or flavors, however it is processed in a facility that also processes soy.
This product can be found in specialty vitamin stores in person or through online retailers, making it more accessible to consumers.
Like many other products on this list, the daily recommended dose is two softgels per day in order to reach the product’s advertised amount of fish oils.
At 66 cents a serving, this product is priced higher than its more potent competitors and does not rank high in terms of value.
- Non-GMO verified
- Able to be purchased in retail stores
- High cost per potency
- Possible cross-contamination with soy
6. Carlson Labs The Very Finest Fish Oil
Over 80% of this product is the fatty acids of EPA and DHA. Additionally, the EPA to DHA ratio is high ranking at 1.6 to 1.
This product has no additives and is preservative and gluten free. It also meets mercury and contaminant standards.
This is the only product on the list that is not taken in softgel or pill form. This product is taken with a spoon and its serving size is 1 tsp per day. Those who do not wish to swallow a pill, or have difficulty in doing so, can opt for a liquid version.
This product can be purchased at a vitamin store or through multiple online retailers making it an easy find for consumers.
With a 31 cent cost per serving and only 100 servings in a bottle, the price per potency of this product is higher than its competition.
- No large pill to swallow multiple times a day
- International Fish Oil Standards Program (IFOS) certified
- This particular brand's product is a liquid supplement and must be kept in the refrigerator to keep from spoiling
7. BioScience Nutrition Omega 3
Over 50% of the product comes from EPA and DHA, with a ratio of 1.3 EPA to DHA.
This product contains bovine, or derivatives of animal parts. It also lists soy on its ingredients. Those with a soy allergy will want to avoid this product.
This product is sold through online retailers and cannot be found at a local store.
Ranking at the highest serving on the list, those looking to benefit from this product need to take 3 softgels a day.
At 17 cents a pill, and a three pill serving, this product is not a great value for the consumer even with its high potency.
- GMO free ingredients
- Toxins within safety limits
- High dose for serving
- Extra fillers in product
8. Nature’s Bounty
6o% of the total product comes from EPA and DHA, yielding above average potency. Additionally the EPA to DHA ratio is approximately 1.8 to 1.
Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil has the highest mercury levels on the list. It also has other additives stabilizers and coatings that might deter consumers.
This product is available at many stores and can be purchased in person, as well as through online retailers.
Consumers only need to take one pill per day to reach the indicated 1200mg of Omega 3s in this Nature’s Bounty product.
At about 5 cents a pill (and a one pill serving), combined with the higher than average potency, this product provides a high value to consumers
- Easy to find as it's available in many stores
- One pill serving
- High in additives
- High in fillers
9. Kirkland Signature Natural Concentrate Omega 3
The potency of this product is low, in fact less than 30% of the fish oils come from EPA and DHA. With 1000mg total fish oil, it provides only 250mg from EPA and DHA, and the remaining oils from other fatty acids.
This product does not rank well in purity as it contains soy and additional additives and is high in fillers. It is advertised as non-GMO and gluten free.
This product is easily accessible. It can be found both in Costco Wholesale stores and through multiple online stores
With a smaller serving size than others on the list, one softgel per day is the recommended dose.
The price of this product is low, in that a serving is listed as one pill, costing consumers only 3 cents per serving. The price point is fair since the potency of the product is low.
- Low toxin levels
- Affordable for consumers
- Even doubling the serving recommendation would still place this product well below one serving from higher ranking products on this list; contains soy
10. New Chapter Wholemega
This product has a very low potency, only 20% of the oils come from EPA and DHA. It also yields the lowest EPA to DHA ratio on the list.
This product is gluten free and contains no artificial sweeteners
Wholemega products can be found on shelves at healthfood stores in addition to online retailers.
The serving of this supplement is two softgels per day.
21 cents per pill, or 42 cents a serving. This product has a low potency per price point and does not offer a high value to consumer.
- Added Vitamin D
- Sustainably caught fish
- Low value
- Low in EPA and DHA
The Criteria We Used to Find the Best Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oils have been shown to reduce muscle soreness, increase blood flow, and prevent muscle breakdown, all of which are important for longevity and endurance in the sport of running. That being said, not all fish oils are created equal and because the body cannot make its own fatty acids, it is crucial to find a good Fish Oil supplement to receive these benefits.
With so many options found online and in stores, it can be hard to determine what a good supplement is. We’ve poured through the research and reviews on the market, as well as each brand’s individual ingredient list to determine which Fish Oils we could truly call the “best of the best.”
After researching what the market has to offer, the following metrics were put in place to determine which products were truly worth what they claimed on their labels. Each of the key factors used to create the list of the Best Fish Oils is explained below:
Potency: EPA and DHA are extremely important in proper cell membrane function, general cardiovascular health and brain support. Since it can be challenging to get enough EPA and DHA through diet alone, it is essential to find a supplement that provides a high serving of these two Omega 3s. Therefore, we looked at the ratio of EPA to DHA in each supplement, as well how much of the total product was made from these two fatty acids to provide a potency ranking.
Purity: EPA and DHA amounts alone were not enough to determine whether or not a product was able to be classified as one of the best. With several fillers, additives and artificial ingredients found in many of the researched supplements, purity became an important area of investigation. While many of these products advertise a specific molecular distillation process to ensure ultra-refined fatty acids, that doesn’t mean that the product at hand is essentially “pure.” Not only were things like soy, animal parts, unnecessary ingredients or laboratory cross-contamination taken into account, but also mercury and PCB levels for products. The fewer additives and lower toxin levels, the purer the product.
Accessibility: Even with the popularity of online retailers, being able to find a product at your local store can make life simpler. We took note of whether or not these products were accessible at the local pharmacy, supermarket or health food store in addition to being able to be purchased online and delivered to your home. If a product were available in multiple places, it became more accessible and ranked higher in that area.
Serving: Since most Fish Oil supplements are large pills taken orally, the number of pills per serving was taken into account. While all of the products on the list range from 1 to 3 pills per serving, the higher the serving (and especially when combined with a low potency per serving) meant that it did not fare well in this area. The products offering the lowest serving and maximum dose of Omega 3s scored best.
Value: Fair pricing was determined by the combination of potency, purity, and serving. If a product is highly potent, but not essentially pure, it is not worth as high a cost. Additionally, a cheaply priced product per pill with a high serving content does not correlate into a good value for consumers. The best value was determined by matching the highest potency and purest supplement per price point.
Other Facts to Consider when Selecting the Best Choice for You
While the aforementioned metrics of potency, purity, accessibility, serving and value are important in choosing which Fish Oil supplement is best for you, there are other areas to consider when determining how to meet your individual needs.
Diet: How much fish do you already consume? A diet high in fish, like a Mediterranean style diet, will already provide a healthy amount of omega 3s and a higher potency product is not necessary to supplement. More benefits from fish oil supplements are found from consumers who do not eat a largely fish-based high fat diet.
Health benefits needed: When considering which product is right for you, it is important to determine which benefits you are looking to find from fish oil supplementation. High endurance athletes can take note of the promoted benefits of joint and heart health. Those opting more for a healthier lifestyle in addition to moderate activity might want additional benefits like Vitamin D to be found in their supplement and will not need to consider a highly potent formula as heavily.
Health Precautions: It is always important to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement. Fish oils may affect blood sugar levels and cause low blood pressure, so consumers sensitive in those areas need to proceed with caution. Additionally, any consumer with a fish allergy should avoid these supplements and opt for a plant-derived option. Lastly, taking note of the mercury and toxin levels of your particular supplement is important to make sure you are not adding an unsafe level of contaminants to your diet.
Certifications and claims: While some of these products boast titles such as “non—GMO verified” or “Third-Party Purity Tested,” an additional claim to look for on the product’s packaging is “IFOS Certified.” IFOS stands for the International Fish Oil Standards Program. This program is the only third party testing system created to exclusively test and approve fish oils. Since it is the only exclusive testing system for these supplements, this certification can assure those consumers interested in receiving the ‘best of the best” standards when it comes to supplementing their diet.
Q: Why should I focus on increasing specifically my Omega 3 intake?
A: As a general rule, most diets are very high in Omega 6s, but lack in Omega 3s. Sources of Omega 6 fats include vegetable oils, salad dressings, mayonnaise, nuts and seeds. These Omega 6 sources are more readily obtained and consumed than those products with Omega 3s, like fish, crab and oysters. While both of these fatty acids are important in keeping a body working properly, the Western diet is predominately heavy in providing Omega 6s. Therefore, finding a supplement that provides ample amounts of Omega 3s will help balance the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio in your diet.
Q: Are fish oil supplements safe for all ages?
A: While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes a recommendation that adults eat 8 or more ounces of seafood a week, with amounts varying by age for younger consumers, it is recommended that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid or limit certain types of seafood due to the potential toxins lurking in fish. Fish oil supplements should also be used with this same caution in children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, for these same reasons, as there is potential to consume harmful toxins that can affect the nervous system of a fetus or young child.
Q: What are the potential side effects of taking fish oil supplements?
A: While side effects are uncommon, they can occur. Some gastrointestinal issues may arise, including burping and indigestion.
Q: Outside of benefits for athletes what other benefits might I get from taking a fish oil supplement?
A: Daily intake of EPA and DHA has been linked to a reduced risk of sudden heart failure. Many studies link fish oil to improving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There is also evidence to support the idea that consuming omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythms. Fish oil supplements have also been linked to possible benefits for the following conditions: ADHD, Autism, bipolar disorder, dementia inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, Raynaud’s disease, schizophrenia, and more. Continuing research is underway to study any benefit to eye disease, asthma, and organ transplantation outcomes.
Q: Who should avoid consuming fish oil supplements?
A: Those with a fish allergy, those who are vegan, children, breastfeeding moms, and pregnant women should consult their physician before proceeding with adding fish oil supplements to their diet. It is also important to note the added ingredients on a specific product label and avoid any dietary restriction item that is included, like soy, gluten or animal part products.
Q: How long has fish oil supplementation been used and studied?
A: As early as the 16th century, fishermen in England were using fish oils to treat a variety of health issues such as wounds, aches, and colds. A Danish study from the 1970’s, which focused on Greenland Eskimos, showed researchers that despite consuming a very high fat diet, these Eskimos did not have a high incidence of cardiovascular disease or heart attack. The low incidence of heart problems was concluded to be related to the high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids consumed in their diet. This study sparked a greater interest in studying the benefits of fish oils. It also provided enough evidence to conclude that people who eat seafood at least once a week are less likely to die of heart disease than those who do not consume seafood.
Q: Are all fish oils the same?
A: No, in fact, fish liver oils are not the same as fish oils. Fish liver oils, like cod liver oil, have Vitamin A and Vitamin D in addition to omega 3s. Vitamin A and Vitamin D can be toxic when consumed in large doses.
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