The best fish oil supplements can help support your immune system, mental health and may even help ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements differ from omega-3 supplements because they also contain fat soluble vitamins A and D, which are important for mood and eye health. If you don’t have the opportunity or inclination to eat oily fish, these supplements can fill any nutritional deficits you may have from a low oily fish intake.
The Fit&Well team have tested these supplements to help you choose the right one. We’ve noted any aftertaste, how easy they are to swallow and what dosage you need to take to get your recommended daily intake of omega-3. We’ve also made sure to check the sustainability of the sources and fishing methods used, as well as the sort of packaging each brand has chosen.
What strength should your best fish oil supplements be?
The strength of your fish oil supplement will likely depend on the amount and type of omega-3 it contains and what you’re hoping to achieve by taking a fish oil supplement.
According to Dr Alex Richardson (opens in new tab) senior research fellow at the University of Oxford and the founder of Food and Behaviour Research:
- For general and heart health: 500mg combined total
- For anti-inflammatory benefits: 1000-2000mg combined total
- For depression and mental health: 1000-2000mg of EPA
- For pregnancy and breastfeeding: High DPA content and labelled safe for pregnancy
It is important to seek medical guidance for any supplement you wish to take, either from a pharmacist or your medical provider. If you have an underlying health condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you will want to take extra care that any dietary supplements you take are suitable for your situation.
The best fish oil supplements you can buy right now
1. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Nordic Naturals specializes in high quality, safe and ethically sourced fish oils. The company is based in the US, but it was set up by a Norwegian, Joar Opheim, whose mission was to improve the quality of omega-3 supplements available on the American market. There are many good reasons why one of their flagship products, Ultimate Omega softgel capsules, landed on the top of our podium.
With a combined EPA and DHA of 1100mg they provide a high quality, high purity option for a fairly affordable price. Ultimate Omega fish oils are free from artificial additives and promise a pleasant lemon flavor with no fishy aftertaste. What’s more, Nordic Naturals states it uses only wild-caught sardines and anchovies and their fishing methods are certified by Friends of the Sea for sustainability.
User reviews of Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega are extremely positive, with the product scoring an impressive 4.8 out of five stars on Amazon. Positive reviews cite that, compared to cheaper fish oils, the product doesn’t upset their stomach, and they appreciate the high quality of the production methods. Negative reviews, whilst few and far between, tend to focus on the capsules’ unpleasant smell, which is surprising given the company promises a lemon flavor.
The size of the capsules may not be to everyone’s liking, but that’s not necessarily a problem - this supplement is also available in liquid form that boasts a combined EPA and DHA of 2470mg. If you’re looking for a quality fish oil supplement, and don’t mind paying a little bit more, this is a great option.
2. Nature Made Omega-3 From Fish Oil Minis
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Nature Made is a great option for anyone struggling to afford the price tag of the more premium fish oils, or who may be taking several different supplements. One of the most popular supplement companies in the US, it manages to offer a combined EPA/DHA of 930mg for a fraction of the cost of many other high-quality oils.
Nature Made claims to use wild ocean fish rather than resort to industrial farming practices, but no sustainability certificates could be found on their website. Their fish oils undergo a purification process to remove harmful compounds (such as PCBs, dioxins, mercury and furans) and ensure that there’s no fishy odor or aftertaste. Fish oil minis are also free of artificial colourings, allergens and additives. The soft gel capsules are only one inch long, making them a perfect choice for people who have issues with swallowing regular-sized supplements, or who don’t want the unpleasant fishy taste that can come with larger tablets.
The product scores an impressive 4.1 out of five stars on Amazon. Most users like the fact that the small capsule doesn’t cause any ‘fishy burps’ or unpleasant aftertaste. However, many feel that the name ‘mini’ is misleading, with the capsule only being a fraction smaller than some other pills.
The affordable price tag means the dose can be doubled or even trebled if needed. All in all, Nature Made Omega-3++ From Fish Oil Minis is a welcome low cost option.
3. HUM Nutrition OMG! Omega the Great Supplement
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
HUM Nutrition prides itself on providing premium supplements that routinely undergo strict clinical testing procedures before being released onto the market. Its OMG! Omega The Great product is no exception. Boasting a significant dose of 1200mg combined EPA/ DHA, it’s one of the richest sources of high quality omega-3 fatty acids in the US. This supplement is enriched with vitamin E, which supports healthy and glowing skin, and comes with no artificial additives, GMOs or gluten.
The capsules themselves are surprisingly large — and have a harder texture than you'd expect for 'softgels'. This being said, we found them easy to swallow and they had a very faint lemon taste that was not unpleasant.
According to user reviews, the OMG! Omega the Great does not have a fishy aftertaste and produces great short and long-term results. It scores 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, with many users citing a boost in their mood and skin appearance. The downside is obviously the price, with some users having to switch to a more affordable product.
All HUM Nutrition products are made in facilities that are certified to follow Good Manufacturing Processes. In addition, their fish oils are extracted from sustainably sourced anchovies. The only two downsides to the OMG! Omega the Great supplement is its hefty price tag - almost $30 per bottle, which only lasts you 30 days - and plastic packaging.
4. Vegetology Opti 3 Omega 3 EPA & DHA
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Unlike many vegan omega-3 supplements, Opti 3 contains a very good level of EPA and DHA fatty acids. In fact, these supplements offer a higher level of EPA/DHA than most of the average fish oils you will find on the high street. They also contain a small, plant-based dose of vitamin D3 - another nutrient which is tricky for vegans to get through their diet. However, bear in mind that the serving size is two capsules, not one, so the 60 capsule supply will actually only last you 30 days.
User reviews generally think this is a value-for-money vegan omega-3 supplement, as many algae-based omegas can be quite expensive. They also like the higher levels of DHA and EPA compared to other brands. Negative reviews are hard to find, but the few ones cite a slightly sea-like taste.
Sourced from algae instead of fish, these capsules are certified by the Vegan Society and Vegetarian Society and are safe for use in pregnancy. You can pierce the capsule and pour the liquid onto a spoon (or into food or drink) but it’s a bit fiddly. However, they're really easy to swallow, despite being quite long, and completely tasteless. A firm Fit&Well favorite.
5. Barlean's Omega Pals
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Omega-3 is a critical nutrient for children’s developing brains, with studies (opens in new tab) finding that omega-3 supplementation can reduce behavioral problems. Further research (opens in new tab) also suggests omega-3 intake can support neurological conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism.
Children can find big capsules hard to swallow. They may also be extremely fussy about liquids. But don’t worry. Barlean’s Omega Pals are perfect for picky eaters, squeezing a dose of 750mg of EPA and DHA into a single serving of 1.5 teaspoons. With a creamy, smoothie-like texture and a choice of four sweet flavors (lemonade, tangerine, straw-nana and citrus), it can easily convince even the most demanding taste buds. These fish oils can be eaten on their own, or easily mixed into yogurts, desserts and other meals. We love the straw-nana flavor best – it has absolutely no fishy aftertaste, and even for adults it makes a nice change if you take quite a few supplements.
User reviews for Barlean’s Omega Pals are very positive, with the product scoring 4.9 out of five stars on iherb. Many parents note improvements in their child’s behavior since taking the product, and all are very complimentary of the taste. They say the bottle is easy to store in the fridge too.
Suitable even for one year old toddlers, Barlean’s fish oils do not contain any artificial additives, heavy metals, GMOs or allergens. The company follows strict NSF Good Manufacturing principles and every product they make is rigorously tested by third parties. Moreover, the single bottle contains nearly eight ounces of fish oils, making it a highly affordable choice. The downside? It comes in quite flimsy, plastic packaging that isn’t recyclable.
How to choose the best fish oil supplements
While many of the best omega-3 supplements list the amounts of EPA and DHA, some manufacturers make claims that their products are 'ultra-strength' or offer superior forms of omega-3.
As Dr. Richardson notes, these marketing-led options often "include short-chain ALA omega-3s which our bodies can't convert well." Instead, she advises that you should be looking "for the EPA and DHA content [to] be at least 500mg."
Dr. Richardson also advises that you likely don't need supplements containing omega-6, as "most of our diets are already flooded with omega-6 when compared to omega-3."
She notes that this "imbalance increases the risks for a wide range of physical and mental health disorders, including heart disease, stroke and 'brain disorders' such as anxiety and depression."
As a result, it's crucial to keep your levels of omega-3 topped up with the best fish oil supplements. You don’t need to avoid omega-6 completely, but try to get it from healthy omega-6 foods and steer away from processed foods.
Asides from strength, you’ll want to consider the form of the fish oil supplement. Not everyone likes swallowing tablets, in which case you might prefer a liquid supplement or opt for a brand that offers miniature tablets or easy swallow pills. It’s worth noting the recommended dose too, because whilst you may think that a supply will last a certain period of time, sometimes you need to take up to four capsules for one dose.
If you don’t eat fish, you will also want to opt for a vegan omega-3 supplement made from algae. But bear in mind that these can sometimes be more expensive. If you do consume fish, it’s worth noting what the product has been made from. The products in our guide are sourced from wild and sustainability-sourced fish, but this isn’t consistent across all of the fish oil supplements on the market.
What is fish oil good for?
- Mental Health
Fish oil supplements contain fat soluble vitamin D, which has been linked in multiple studies to improved mental health, as seen in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (opens in new tab). Additionally, Omega-3 intake was linked to a 20% reduction in anxiety when compared to subjects taking a placebo in a randomized controlled trial reported in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity (opens in new tab)
- Eye Health
Fish oil supplements derived from fish liver (such as cod liver oil) tend to contain significant amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye health, and a deficiency of Vitamin A in the diet can lead to night blindness, as seen in a review in Progress in Food & Nutrition Science.
- Reduces inflammation
A review in International Immunology (opens in new tab) indicates that Omega-3 plays an important role in tissue homeostasis and controlling inflammation within the body. Inflammation may not seem like a problem, but chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells and tissues, leading to further health issues like cancer.
- Cardiovascular health
When taken in balance with Omega-6, the correct dosage of Omega-3 can help to promote ‘good’ cholesterol levels and has been shown to lead to positive cardiometabolic outcomes, according to a 2021 study in Nutrients journal. Professional opinions on the benefits of Omega-3 as a preventative treatment for cardiovascular health are still divided, with a Cochrane review on the subject indicating that evidence is still limited.
Are fish oil and omega-3 the same?
Fish oil supplements contain omega-3, but omega-3 supplements don’t necessarily contain fish oil. There are 3 types of omega-3: DHA and EPA come primarily from fish, while ALA comes primarily from plant sources. Some brands of omega-3 supplements use a marine algae derivative, which makes them suitable for vegans and vegetarians, who wouldn’t be able to take a fish oil supplement due to their dietary restrictions.
When comparing omega-3 supplements with seafood, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends that eating seafood might be the better option than taking a straight omega-3 supplement, due to the extra nutritional benefits you get from eating seafood, including protein, minerals and fat soluble vitamins. This indicates that eating omega-3 rich foods is preferable to taking an omega-3 supplement, but that the extra nutrients in a fish oil supplement (like vitamins A and D) might also make fish oil supplements a preferable option to omega-3 supplements if you aren’t getting enough of these vitamins from your diet.
Should you take fish oil every day?
This really depends on how much oily fish you eat already. If you eat the recommended amount of oily fish, two portions a week according to the American Heart Association, then you probably don’t need to take a supplement every day. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t eat fish, taking a fish oil supplement may be helpful for you.
Grace Derocha RDN, CDCES, MBA, registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says: “In general, it is called a fish oil supplement because it is a supplement to what we eat daily. Ideally, we would get fish oil from the fatty fish we eat.”
If you follow a plant based diet or struggle to eat your two portions of fatty fish a week (tuna, salmon, sardines) or prefer to eat more white fish (cod, tilapia, halibut, haddock), then a fish oil supplement can help you to get the amount of omega-3 you need to be healthy.
Derocha says: “Fish oil comes from many types of fish. Usually rich in two crucial Omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish oil supplements have most often been used by adults in doses of up to 6 grams daily by mouth for up to 12 weeks. Fish oil products typically provide 180-465 mg of EPA and 120-375 mg of DHA per capsule.”
If you are considering taking a fish oil supplement or changing your diet to include more oily fish, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to ensure you are making the right choice for your health. Health is as personal and individual as a fingerprint, so health-based changes should be undertaken with professional supervision.
How we test
Each of the products included in this guide was tested by the Fit&Well team. Supplements will affect each and every person slightly differently so we’ve been using these vitamins to give you a better idea of what they contain, and anything you need to be aware of before taking them. Below are the criteria we tested each product for.
It’s super important to us that you know exactly what we tested and why and our first starting point is always to find out exactly what ingredients are in a fish oil supplement. We then compare this against your daily recommended dosage and decipher whether you can get enough omega-3 DHA and EPA from these supplements.
We made sure to note how much of each supplement you are required to take and how much often. This gave us a clear indication of whether a product offered good value for money or not.
Not all vitamins and supplements will be suitable for everyone which is why we take note of whether a fish oil supplement is suitable for vegans (i.e. contains algae-derived omegas) or those on a gluten-free diet.
Cost and value for money
Getting the nutrients you need shouldn’t have to cost any more than necessary so we compared pricing across all the fish oil supplements we tested to see whether the more expensive capsules were worth the money and if the cheaper supplements still contain everything you need.
Easiness to swallow & taste
For some, taking capsules or tablets can be very challenging so we test each and every fish oil supplement by taking them ourselves and observing how easy they are to swallow.
The taste, while subjective, is another important factor we test. We try each capsule and note down whether they taste like the intended flavor or anything else you may need to know about after tastes too.
When we test fish oil supplements, we note anything that makes one supplement stand out over the others. We ask if any of the supplements claim to do something that others don’t, and we also consider the overall aesthetics of the product.
Claire is a freelance health, fitness and food journalist who has written for titles including Women’s Health, Top Santé, Woman & Home, Feel Good You, the Telegraph and Independent. She has a passion for being outside in nature and you’re more likely to find her walking in the woods or joining an exercise class in the park than pounding a treadmill in the gym. She also has a special interest in nutrition and healthy eating, having previously been Food Editor at Top Santé magazine. Her top fitness tip? Take your exercise outdoors wherever possible. It has been shown to boost the physical as well as mental health benefits of a workout and also to make you more likely to want to do it again!
- James FrewStaff Writer
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