Fish oil supplements are one of the hottest trends in alternative and natural health. And for good reason.
If you struggle with pain, brain fog, or achy joints, fish oil can make a difference. If you want to optimize your energy levels, look years younger, and boost your immunities, fish oil can help.
The truth is, for total health on a cellular level, nothing beats fish oil.
In this article, we’ll answer your questions about fish oil, from the top 10 fish oil supplements to how fish oil keeps you healthy and energized.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Top 10 fish oil
1. HealthWise Omega Fish Oil
To support your heart and brain health, lubricate your joints, and boost your immune system, nothing beats HealthWise Omega. This is the best, most advanced omega-3 fish oil on the market.
It’s 100% natural, derived from premium sources of omega-3 fatty acids, so you get maximum effect and impact on all your vital systems.
And with 600 mg servings of pure DHA and 800 mg servings of pure EPA, you’re getting the optimal balance of EPA, DHA, and premium fish oil in each 2000 mg serving. You’re also getting a high concentration of omega-3s per serving at 70%.
Third-party tested. Made in the USA in an FDA-approved facility.
Non-dairy, gluten free, soy free, and preservative free—with HealthWise Omega, you get no synthetic ingredients.
The all-around fish oil winner of 2019.
2. The Vitamin Shoppe Super Omega-3 Fish Oil
The Vitamin Shoppe Super Omega-3 is a well-balanced fish oil, offering 1290 mg of fish oil concentrate from anchovies and sardines in every softgel: 735 mg of EPA and 165 mg of DHA for a total of 900 mg of high-quality omega-3s.
That’s 69.7% omega-3s in each serving—almost as high as our top pick.
We like this fish oil because one softgel gives you all the essential fatty acids you need, and two still doesn’t exceed the maximum recommended by the FDA.
Some doctors recommend the highest EPA possible and the lowest DHA possible. That gives you all the heart and joint protection without raising your LDL cholesterol levels too much. Super Omega-3 fish oil meets that requirement perfectly.
Corn-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, salt-free, starch-free, sugar-free, tree nut-free, wheat-free, yeast-free.
The Vitamin Shoppe private brands meet or exceed industry standards for quality. They put their products through rigorous testing for ingredient purity and potency, product specifications, and scientific evidence to support every health claim they make.
3. Viva Naturals Ultra Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil
What sets Viva Naturals Ultra Strength apart is that they concentrate their fish oil without heat or chemicals—it’s essentially cold pressed. As a result, it gives you more omega-3s per serving than you get with most other fish oils.
Two softgels give you 1400 mg of EPA and 480 mg of DHA—1880 mg of omega-3s in each 2200 mg serving of fish oil. That’s a whopping 85%, a much higher concentration than average.
Because it’s purified without heat, the quality of the oil is preserved—and you won’t get the fishy burps you can get with cheaper brands.
Viva Naturals uses wild anchovies, sardines, and mackerel caught off the coast of Peru from fresh, unpolluted waters—never farm raised. These smaller fish typically have less mercury and fewer toxins than bigger fish.
Add to that their purity testing—each batch is tested for purity and IFOS 5-Star Certified, so you can be sure you’re getting high-quality fish oil.
No corn, egg, milk, wheat, peanut, tree nut, artificial colors or sweeteners.
4. Sports Research AlaskOmega Omega-3 Fish Oil
Sports Research’s AlaskOmega is sourced only from wild Alaska Pollock from the Bering Sea. Regarded as one of the freshest fish oils available, AlaskOmega has a maximum total oxidation (TOTOX) of only 5.
With AlaskOmega, each softgel gives you 1250 mg of fish oil: 687 mg of EPA and 250 mg of DHA. That’s a 75% concentration of omega-3s. Very good.
The oils are expressed as triglycerides, making them easy to absorb.
We like that this fish oil is certified Sustainable and Traceable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)—the first omega-3 fish oil to achieve that distinction.
If you’re wary of gelatin capsules, you’ll appreciate that Sports Research uses only “Pescatarian Friendly” fish gelatin capsules.
Certified sustainable, gluten-free, 3rd-party tested, and GMP Certified. Free of PCBs, mercury, and heavy metals.
5. OmegaVia Pharmaceutical Grade Omega-3
OmegaVia Pharmaceutical Grade gives you a potent fish oil supplement with 1105 mg of omega-3s per pill from anchovies, sardines, and mackerel that are sustainably sourced in Peru and Chile.
With this formula, you’ll get a unique blend of omega-3s:
- 780 mg of EPA
- 260 mg of DHA
- 20 mg of DPA
- 45 mg of other omega-3s (SDA, ETA, ETE, and ALA).
The addition of DPA is a bonus, since DPA is associated with significant health benefits.
All that, packed in 1300 mg of fish oil, giving you an 85% concentration of omega-3s.
OmegaVia uses a heat-free C02 extraction process that provides a gentler, more advanced purification process than molecular distillation.
This formula also gives you a plant-based enteric coating, which could reduce odor and improve digestive comfort.
Concentrated and purified in Europe. Encapsulated, bottled, and tested in the USA. Manufactured in a cGMP certified facility.
6. Dr. Tobias Triple Strength Omega-3
Dr. Tobias Triple Strength is 100% fresh, wild-caught fish that’s refined with molecular distillation to remove heavy metals, PCBs, and other toxins.
Each serving of 2 softgels gives you 2000 mg of fish oil with 800 mg of EPA and 600 mg of DHA. That’s a 70% concentration of omega-3s sourced from herring, anchovy, sardine, salmon, and mackerel.
This fish oil is refined at the lowest possible temperature, and they put a special coating on each capsule so it won’t dissolve too soon. This is supposed to avoid any fishy aftertaste.
Be aware, this product does contain soy. It also has a gelatin capsule (bovine) that you may not want if you’re on a plant-based diet.
Testing is performed by NSF. Manufactured in an FDA-registered and GMP-certified facility.
7. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is a quality fish oil derived from wild-caught anchovies and sardines.
Each serving of 2 softgels gives you 2000 mg of fish oil with 650 mg of EPA and 450 mg of DHA.
We like that this fish oil uses rosemary extract as a natural preservative. It comes in a triglyceride molecular form for easier absorption. And it has natural lemon flavor in case you don’t like a fishy aftertaste.
In this formula, you get a lower concentration of omega-3s for the amount of fish oil you’re taking (55%), but it’s still a high-quality fish oil.
No gluten, milk derivatives, or artificial colors or flavors. Third-party certified to have no environmental toxins or heavy metals.
8. Bronson Omega-3 Fish Oil Triple Strength
If you’re looking for high potency, Bronson Omega-3 Fish Oil Triple Strength is the one for you.
In this fish oil, you get the maximum amount of omega-3s recommended: 1250 mg EPA and 488 mg DHA for 1,738 omega-3s in 2,720 mg of fish oil. That’s 63% omega-3 fatty acids—and about as close as you’re going to get to the 2 g maximum of supplemental omega-3s the FDA recommends.
This fish oil is derived exclusively from anchovies, a small fish that’s known for having low levels of toxins and heavy metal.
For affordable fish oil, this is a good option. One 2-softgel serving gives you your daily dose of high-potency fish oil, and you’ll pay less than you will for other options. And since each bottle contains 90 pills, they’ll last 45 days.
Non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, heavy metal tested. Lab tested for purity and potency. Safe for men, women, and children.
9. Mav Nutrition Premium Omega-3 fish oil
Another high-potency option is Mav Nutrition Premium Omega-3.
Each serving gives you 1,296 mg EPA and 864 mg DHA in 3,600 mg fish oil. That’s a full 2,160 mg of omega-3s (60%).
Be aware, that’s on the high side. If you have issues with thinning blood, this isn’t the best fish oil for you. And if you need to lower your LDL cholesterol, the high DHA levels in this formula could be a problem.
But you can break up the dose easily. One serving is 3 softgels, so it’s easy to take only as much fish oil as you need.
That’s part of what makes this fish oil so cost-effective. Each bottle has 120 softgels. If you take the full dose each day, one bottle will last you one and a half months. If you decide to take just 2 softgels a day (still a good amount of fish oil on a daily basis), one bottle will last two months. That’s $12.19 to $9.15 a month for your essential fatty acids.
This fish oil is derived from 100% pure sea-harvested pelagic fish oil. That means fish that aren’t bottom-feeders and, therefore, don’t pick up as many contaminants.
It’s then purified with molecular distillation to remove heavy metals, PCBs, and other toxins to below detectable limits for human consumption. This method is fast and low-temperature.
Non-GMO, gluten-free. Natural lemon flavors. Formulated in the US.
10. Arazo Nutrition Omega-3 Fish Oil
Yet another super high-potency fish oil is Arazo Nutrition Omega-3 Fish Oil.
Each 3-softgel serving gives you 4,080 mg of fish oil, with 2,250 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids (56%). That gives you 1,200 mg EPA and 900 mg DHA if you take the full dose each day.
Again, that’s a little on the high side, but if your doctor recommends a higher dose, this formula will help you meet your needs without taking as many pills. Be careful, though, if you have high LDL cholesterol or need to avoid thinning your blood. At 900 mg of DHA, this one could cause problems.
Also notice that the percentage of omega-3s is just 56%. That’s low, which means you’re getting fewer omega-3s per pill than you could get with more concentrated formulas.
This fish oil is 100% ocean wild catch—but it’s not clear what type of fish this oil comes from. It is purified with molecular distillation at low temperatures to remove all heavy metals, mercury, PCBs, and other toxins.
It’s made in an FDA registered facility and is third-party tested. But be aware, this product does contain soy.
What is omega-3 fish oil?
Omega-3 fish oil is the oil extracted from oily fish.
If you’re worried about adding fats to your diet, don’t be. The type of fats in fish oil are actually good for your body.
You see, fish oils are highly concentrated with two omega-3 fatty acids—DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)—that are essential to good health, long life, and vitality.
Today, fish oil is one of the most popular natural products used by US adults (NHIS), beating out other favorites like glucosamine and probiotics:
Source: NCHS, 2015
We’ll talk more about specific benefits later in this article, but here’s the bottom line…
Essential fatty acids play an important role in maintaining good health because they support the membranes that surround each cell in your body. They help brain function, normal growth and development, and lengthen life.
Sadly, it is estimated that 28 million life-years are lost each year worldwide from ill health, disability, or early death—simply because of inadequate omega-3 (IHME, 2013). In the United States (US), for instance, long-chain omega-3 deficiency is ranked among the top-ten preventable causes of all-cause death (PubMed).
According to the National Institutes of Health, omega-3s may help protect you from:
- Cardiovascular disease – lowering triglyceride levels
- Cancer – lowering the risk of breast and colorectal cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – warding off brain fog and improving cognitive function
- Age-related macular degeneration – protecting your eyes
- Rheumatoid arthritis – reducing the need for pain-relief medication
And studies are being done now to support its ability to help with ADHD, childhood allergies, and cystic fibrosis.
Omega-3 fish oil supplies 20-35% of your body’s energy and helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and carotenoids.
As you can see, this one supplement could help you maintain peak health.
Who should buy fish oil?
Anyone who doesn’t eat 1–2 servings of oily fish (think salmon or sardines) per week should take fish oil supplements. That includes children, adults, pregnant and nursing women, and seniors.
People who should not take fish oil include:
Anyone taking Warfarin or similar anticoagulants: High doses of fish oil can thin the blood and prolong clotting times. Depending on your situation, you may need to avoid fish oil altogether or simply take a reduced dosage. Discuss possible interactions with your healthcare provider.
People with an implanted defibrillator to regulate the heartbeat: Fish oil could increase the risk of irregular heartbeat.
People who will be having surgery: Stop taking fish oil at least 2 weeks prior to your surgery, and make sure there’s no risk of bleeding before starting supplementation again.
Anyone with a fish or seafood allergy: Fish oil is derived from fatty fish, so it could trigger an allergic reaction in people with sensitivities or allergies.
How we ranked
We scoured the internet looking for the best sources of fish oil that provide the most benefits. When ranking fish oils, we look at:
- The source of fish oils
- The amount of DHA and EPA
- The purity of the product
- The presence of additional ingredients to help bioavailability and absorption
- The presence of additional ingredients that water down the effectiveness
- The reputation of the manufacturer
- And more
According to our research, the products we’ve included in this article should be good sources for the omega-3 fish oils you need to be healthy.
Benefits of fish oil
There’s no doubt about it…
Eating more fish and seafood improves your health. But experts aren’t sure whether that improvement comes from high levels of omega-3s, some other quality of seafood, the fact that seafood is healthier than other foods, or some combination of all these factors (NIH).
By taking high-quality fish oil supplements, you’re giving your body all the benefits of fish oil, regardless of whether they’re from omega-3s or other factors that make seafood so healthy.
What are the specific health benefits of fish oil?
Fish oil can reduce triglycerides and cholesterol.
Fish oil has been found to significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels, modestly improve HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and mildly elevate LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (Mayo Clinic).
It’s believed that DHA is the omega-3 that raises LDL cholesterol levels, which is why some doctors recommend a fish oil with high EPA and low DHA.
As you’ll see in a minute, DHA isn’t all “bad,” so you don’t want to avoid it entirely. But if you struggle with high cholesterol, you should consider a fish oil with lower levels of DHA.
Fish oil can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
DHA, which is one of the two top omega-3s in fish oil, is basically brain food. It’s an essential component of cellular membrane phospholipids in the brain and is believed to help protect the blood-brain barrier while improving the function of neurons in the brain (PubMed abstract).
Lower levels of DHA are associated with more amyloid deposits in the walls of arteries in the brain, a condition called cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). CAA is responsible for cerebral hemorrhages, ischemic infarction, dementia, and Alzheimer disease. (NYU School of Medicine)
Higher levels of DHA, on the other hand, have been found to preserve brain volume (PubMed abstract). So DHA helps protect the brain, so it can work well at any age.
Need support for an aging brain? Read our Prevagen review here.
Fish oil can help fight depression and anxiety.
For years, researchers noticed lower rates of depression in nations where people eat lots of fish. So they began studying the correlation between fish oils and depression—and it’s now believed that both EPA and DHA can benefit people with mood disorders.
For example, after reviewing 26 studies, it was discovered that higher fish intake led to a 17% lower risk of depression (PubMed abstract). That’s not enough to justify using fish oil as a treatment for depression, but it’s clear it helps fight depression and anxiety.
Fish oil can improve eye health.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the top causes of vision loss among older adults. But both DHA and EPA have been found to help.
DHA is a structural lipid in the cellular membranes of the retina. It optimizes the fluidity of photoreceptor membranes, maintains the integrity of the retina, and improves visual function (PMC).
EPA can reduce retinal inflammation and improve neovascularization and cell survival (PubMed abstract).
Together, they can help you improve eye health and protect your vision.
Fish oil may help dry eye disease.
Researchers believe omega-3s could reduce the risk of dry eye disease—and improve its symptoms—by reducing inflammation (PubMed abstract).
Fish oil may help protect against heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
As early as the 1970s, research uncovered the shockingly low rates of heart attacks and other coronary events among Greenland Inuit and other fish-eating populations. That got everyone’s wheels turning. Even back then, when low-fat diets were all the rage, experts were recognizing the value of fish oil.
Today, study after study has demonstrated the heart-healthy benefits of fish oil.
For instance, in 2007, a Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study supported the growing evidence that long-term use of EPA can prevent major coronary events in patients with high cholesterol. (PubMed abstract)
Fish oil can help fight rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes chronic inflammation of the joints, pain, swelling, stiffness, and functional impairments—and fish oil has been proven to help.
In a controlled trial in Sweden, researchers found that fish oil supplementation reduced the need for NSAIDs to control pain (PubMed abstract).
There were similar results in a Denmark study. Compared to the placebo group, morning stiffness, joint tenderness, and visual pain score decreased significantly for people taking omega-3 fish oil (PubMed abstract).
Painful joints? Read our review of Omega XL here.
Fish oil may reduce the odds of getting cancer.
Studies are showing a correlation between higher intakes of long-chain omega-3s and decreased risk of some cancers, especially breast and colon cancers.
In the Singapore Chinese Health Study, women aged 45–74 years who were in the top 3 quartiles of omenga-3 intake had a 26% lower risk of breast cancer after 5.3 years. On the other hand, women who took little or no fish oil did not reduce their risk of breast cancer (PubMed abstract).
In the Vitamins and Lifestyle cohort, women aged 50–76 who took fish-oil supplements had a 32% lower risk of breast cancer after 6 years than women who didn’t take fish oil (PubMed abstract).
Fish oil may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 22% (PubMed abstract).
Fish oil can improve skin texture.
According to the Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, you need omega-3s to keep your skin looking good—especially DHA.
If you don’t get enough omega-3s, concentrations of DHA in your blood and tissue decrease, resulting in rough, scaly skin and dermatitis. (ODS Fact Sheet)
It’s the fatty acids in fish oil that work this magic. They hydrate your skin and reduce inflammation, giving you fewer wrinkles and less acne.
Side effects of fish oil
Typical side effects from fish oil are usually mild, including:
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Acid reflux
- Stomach discomfort
- Smelly sweat
While fish oil is good for you, it is possible to get too much. Lower your intake if you see these symptoms:
- Bleeding gums
- Joint pain
- Skin irritation
Recommended dose of fish oil
The USDA recommends that you take no more than 3 g/day (or 3,000 mg/day) of EPA and DHA combined from your diet and supplements. They recommend your supplements supply no more than 2 g/day (2,000 mg/day) of that total.
Be aware, doctors may recommend higher doses for specific health purposes, but you should never exceed them on your own.
Fish oil FAQ
Need more information? Here are answers to common questions about fish oil.
Are fish oils the best source of omega-3s?
Omega-3s can’t be made by our bodies, so they have to come from food or supplements.
There are vegetarian sources as well as seafood sources, but plant-based sources can only provide ALA omega-3s. For instance, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts are good sources of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and grass-fed beef has some ALA in it from the grass the cows ate.
Be aware, though, that the ALAs in vegetarian sources have to be converted by your body into EPA and DHA before they can be used.
The highest quality omega-3s come from fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, and herring—because they provide EPA and DHA, which can be immediately used by the body.
EPA and DHA, which are readily bioavailable to the body, are found in fatty fish.
How much fish oil should I take per day?
The FDA recommends you take up to 2,000 mg of fish oil from supplements—and getting an additional 1,000 mg through your diet. However, some doctors do recommend higher doses in different situations.
Most adults should take at least 1,000 mg per day to enjoy all the health benefits of fish oil.
NIH guidelines for the minimum daily intake of omega-3s
What is the best fish oil dosage for the elderly?
Senior adults may take up to 2,000 mg of fish oil daily. However, you need to be aware that too much fish oil can thin the blood and cause bleeding. It can also interfere with some medications and supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re worried about adverse reactions.
It is worth noting that in a systematic review of randomized control trials, omega-3s were found to cause the elderly no significant problems other than gastrointestinal disturbances (NCBI).
What’s the best fish oil dosage for arthritis?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people with arthritis can take up to 2,600 mg (2.6 g) of fish oil twice a day. Make sure the supplement you choose has a concentration level of at least 30% EPA/DHA.
What is fish oil good for?
Fish oil can reduce inflammation, pain, depression, macular degeneration, and brain fog. It’s been found to lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. It can also boost cognitive function and overall brain health. Fish oil may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer (NIH).
Does fish oil benefit the skin?
Yes, the omega-3s found in fish oil are an essential component in the membranes surrounding every cell in your body (NIH).
In a study on the cosmetic and therapeutic application of fish oil’s fatty acids, it was found to be very good for the skin.
Fish oil can reduce inflammation and promote wound healing. It can also reduce the severity of skin disorders such as photoaging, skin cancer, allergy, dermatitis, cutaneous wounds, and melanogenesis. (PubMed abstract).
What are the fish oil benefits for men?
Some research on fish oil and cancer found that high-potency fish oil may raise your risk for prostate cancer overall, boosting your risk for aggressive prostate cancer by 71% (Harvard Health).
That’s enough to make some men steer clear of fish oil. But that may not necessary. Fish oil has been found to ease inflammation, protect the heart, improve mental health, and lengthen life—and all these health benefits are available without taking high-potency supplements.
If you’re worried about the risk of taking fish oil, talk with your healthcare provider. It’s possible that lower doses of fish oil will give you the benefits of this important supplement without raising your risks for prostate cancer.
Want prostate support? Read our Prosvent Review here.
Does fish oil help bodybuilding?
Yes, fish oil can help bodybuilders by supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, providing energy, and supporting a healthy metabolism.
The essential fatty acids provided by fish oil can also help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins you need to recover after hard workouts.
What is DPA, and is it important?
EPA, DHA, and ALA are the most common types of omega-3s, but there’s another key fatty acid, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), that is an intermediary between EPA and DHA. DPA is an elongated version of EPA that’s found in high levels in the diet of Greenland Inuits’, who have an exceptionally low incidence of cardiovascular disease.
DPA has been associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and hardening of the arteries.
It may also help neurological health—DPA concentrations in the blood of schizophrenic patients were found to be lower than people in the control group.
And it’s been found to restore age-related decline in cognitive functions of animals, giving hope for human testing.
DPA has other benefits as well. It’s been found to reduce platelet aggregation and improve lipid metabolism, endothelial cell migration, and chronic inflammation.
DPA is primarily found in oily fish and grass-fed beef, though its levels in fish oil are much lower than EPA and DHA (NCBI, 2015).
While most fish oil supplements don’t list DPA on their label, some are now providing it to make their fish oil as beneficial as possible.
DPA on the Rise, by Natural Products Insider
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, fact sheet for consumers
The omega-3s available in fish oils are so vital to good health and aging, it’s important to get enough of them.
And while the FDA recommends getting your omega-3s from your diet, that can be difficult to do—especially if you eat a plant-based diet or don’t like seafood.
The truth is, few people get enough DHA and EPA from their diets alone. Taking fish oil supplements makes it easy to get these important nutrients…
And enjoy the many health benefits that go with them.