The 8 Best Fish Oil Supplements of 2021, According to a Dietitian

How to choose a fish oil supplement that is right for you

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Best Fish Oil Supplements

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to boost heart health, improve mood, and reduce joint inflammation. Fish oil generally contains two forms of omega-3s: DHA and EPA, which are found in shellfish and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of low-mercury fatty fish per week, but if you don't like the taste of fish or are not a fan of cooking it, a fish oil supplement can help you meet your omega-3 needs.

Omega-3 fish oil supplements may even be beneficial for the whole family. Omega-3s support neurodevelopment during pregnancy and infancy, and protect against childhood allergies and may improve ADHD behaviors. They can even reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease throughout one's lifespan.

Choosing a high-quality fish oil supplement is essential to ensure you're not consuming harmful ingredients like mercury. There are many options and forms on the market to help you meet your needs, including gummies, capsules, and liquids.

What to Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement

Form

Fish oil usually features two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA. In supplement form, these omega-3s come as triglycerides or are refined into ethyl esters, which allow chemists to adjust the specific DHA and EPA concentrations.

Some research suggests that triacylglycerides (another name for triglycerides) are absorbed better than their more processed ethyl ester counterparts. For the most absorbable omega-3s, look for the terms FFA (free fatty acids), TG (triglycerides), or rTG (re-esterified triglycerides) on the label.

Quality Assurance

To ensure you're getting high-quality omega-3 fatty acids without any harmful contaminants or chemicals like mercury, choose a clean, sustainable, third-party tested fish oil supplement. Note that governmental fish oil quality standards don’t exist in the United States.

Look to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS), and California’s Proposition 65 for voluntary guidelines. Certifications such as Marine Stewardship Council, Friend of the Sea, GOED, and IFOS assure that products meet these high standards for purity, potency, and freshness.

Additional Ingredients:

Some fish oils contain complementary, fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin D that work with omega-3 fats to boost health. When selecting a fish oil supplement, consider all ingredients on the label, making note of any possible allergens, and discuss them with your health care provider.

Fish Oil Supplement Dosage

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and dosage.

While there are no defined recommendations for fish oil supplements specifically, there are Adequate Intakes (AI) for Omega-3s based on age and gender. AIs for Omega-3s, established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (NASEM), are as follows:

  • Birth to 12 months: 0.5 grams for both males and females (Note: Both breast milk and many formulas contain omega-3s as ALA, EPA and DHA)
  • 1-3 years: 0.7 grams for both males and females
  • 4-8 years: 0.9 grams for both males and females
  • 9-13 years: 1.2 grams for males and 1.0 grams for females
  • 14- 18 years: 1.6 grams for males and 1.1 grams for females
  • 19+: 1.6 grams for males and 1.1 grams for females
  • Pregnant women 1.4 grams and lactating women 1.3 grams

While you can get all three types of Omega-3s (ALA, DHA, EPA) from whole foods, supplementation may help to meet your daily goals. For reference Omega-3 supplements usually contain around 1,000 milligrams of fish oil, including both EPA and DHA and other omega-3s.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much fish oil should I take each day?

    While there are no specific recommendations for fish oil supplementation dosage, there are recommendations for total omega-3 fatty acid intake. Intake guidelines vary based on age, gender, and overall health status. Current guidelines advise a daily intake of 250 to 500 milligrams of omega-3s from both DHA and EPA—the two main omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil—and 1,100 milligrams or 1,600 milligrams total omega-3 daily intake for women and men (over 19 years of age) respectively.

    Most fish oil supplements supply around 300 milligrams of combined DHA and EPA per 1000 milligrams. Be sure to check the supplement label for serving size and total amounts of DHA and EPA. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3.5-ounce servings of fish (particularly fatty fish) to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • What does fish oil do?

    Fish oil is an excellent source of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat is considered an essential nutrient—since our bodies do not produce it, we must obtain it from our diet.

    There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids. The main types found in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two types are important for brain growth and development. They are also more readily absorbed by the body than the third type, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is mostly found in plant-based sources.

    Fish oil may have heart-protective effects, as it may raise “good” HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and reduce blood pressure. It might also aid weight loss, fight inflammation, and reduce.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science, as well as clinically tested and approved for use in humans. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. These attributes include non-GMO, Organic, and allergy-friendly products that are free of most artificial ingredients including colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners. When possible, we recommend products that are third-party tested and certified.

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

Here are the best fish oil supplements.

Best Overall: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Pros
  • From wild-caught sardines and anchovies

  • High potency omega-3

Cons
  • Expensive

An excellent fish oil supplement is made from the highest quality ingredients, contains potent omega-3s, and is easy to ingest with no fishy aftertaste. Nordic Naturals' Ultimate Omega checks all these boxes. The soft gels have a fresh lemon taste and are made from 100 percent wild-caught sardines and anchovies.

Each two-soft-gel serving contains 1280 milligrams of total omega-3s—with 650 milligrams EPA, 450 milligrams DHA, and 180 milligrams of other omega-3s. The non-GMO verified supplement is in the highly absorbable triglyceride molecular form and is composed of over 90 percent triglyceride-form omegas.

Like all Nordic Naturals' fish oil products, Ultimate Omega is Friend of the Sea certified, third-party purity tested, and backed by over 50 research studies. And if you're not a fan of swallowing pills, Nordic Naturals offers the same product in liquid form.

Servings per container: 30 | Serving size: 2 capsules Omega-3s 1280 milligrams | DHA: 450 milligrams | EPA: 650 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Budget: InnovixLabs Triple Strength Omega-3, 200 Capsules

InnovixLabs Triple Strength Omega-3, 200 Capsules
Pros
  • One capsule serving size

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • Large pill, can be more difficult to swallow

InnovixLabs Triple Strength Omega-3 Concentrated Fish Oil is a high-quality product without a big price tag. The concentrated formula delivers more omega-3 per pill than other fish oil pills—so you can get all the benefits in fewer capsules.

The pill’s all-natural enteric coating means there’s no odor or fishy aftertaste, and it doesn't cause fish burps. InnovixLabs uses fish that are wild-caught, using sustainable fishing methods. This fish oil is verified by multiple third-party testing and is IFOS 5-star certified for purity, potency, and freshness.

Servings per container: 200 | Serving size: 1 capsule Omega-3s 900 milligrams | DHA: 360 milligrams | EPA: 480 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Budget Runner-Up: Now Foods Ultra Omega-3 500 EPA/250 DHA

Now Foods Ultra Omega-3 500 EPA/250 DHA
Pros
  • One capsule serving

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • Under 800 omega-3s per serving

NOW Ultra Omega 3 Fish Oil is another fish oil supplement that delivers a lot of bang for your buck. It’s manufactured under strict quality control standards and tested to be free from harmful mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants.

The soft gel is enteric-coated and odor-controlled, so it’s unlikely to produce fish burps or cause nausea or reflux. Each soft gel contains 500 milligrams of EPA and 250 milligrams of DHA to support brain health.

Additionally, NOW is a member of GOED, a global organization focused on increasing the consumption of EPA and DHA. The GOED logo is also an indicator of quality, as GOED members are required to certify that they will adhere to voluntary quality benchmarks.

Servings per container: 180 | Serving size: 1 capsule Omega-3s 750 milligrams | DHA: 250 milligrams | EPA: 500 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Liquid: Carlson The Very Finest Fish Oil

Carlson The Very Finest Fish Oil
Pros
  • High potency omega-3

  • Can be added to smoothies

Cons
  • Harder to measure exact dosage

If you have trouble swallowing pills and aren't a fan of gummies, you may want to try Carlson Labs' The Very Finest Fish Oil. Each teaspoon of the potent liquid provides 1,600 milligrams of omega-3s, with 800 milligrams EPA and 500 milligrams DHA from Norwegian fish oil. The liquid's slightly lemony taste makes it palatable and easy to swallow, with no bad aftertaste or fishy burps.

Carlson Labs recommends taking the supplement once or twice daily at mealtime. Evidence suggests that consuming fish oil supplements with a high-fat meal may improve the absorption of EPA and DHA.

A recipient of numerous awards for taste and quality, this fish oil is made with the highest quality, deep cold-water fish using traditional, sustainable methods. Carlson carefully manages the fish oil’s production, from sea to store, and guarantees its freshness, potency, and purity. It's also IFOS and IGEN non-GMO certified. Note that this product requires refrigeration.

Servings per container: 40 | Serving size: 1 teaspoon Omega-3s 1,600 milligrams | DHA: 500 milligrams | EPA: 800 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Sustainably-Sourced: Carlson EcoSmart Omega-3

Carlson EcoSmart Omega-3
Pros
  • From highly sustainable calamari source

  • High potency omega-3

Cons
  • Expensive

Choosing a sustainably sourced fish oil supports the long-term well-being of the oceans and protects the vitality of harvested species. Most of the EPA and DHA for supplements are sourced from small fatty fish in coastal waters that deplete global fish stocks—however, Carlson Labs' EcoSmart Omega-3 is made from a highly sustainable calamari species. The potent supplement is Friend of the Sea and IFOS certified. It's good for you—and the earth.

Each two soft gel serving contains 720 milligrams of DHA and 280 milligrams of EPA. The slight citrus flavor masks any fishy taste, and the product uses vitamin E as a preservative instead of artificial ingredients.

You can rest assured knowing that the gluten-free supplement is regularly tested by independent labs to ensure that it is free of harmful levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, and other contaminants.

Servings per container: 45 | Serving size: 2 capsules Omega-3s 1,000 milligrams | DHA: 720 milligrams | EPA: 280 milligrams | Non-GMO: No | Organic: No

Best Prenatal: Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA Softgels
Pros
  • Official omega-3 of the American Pregnancy Association

  • Contains vitamin D3

Cons
  • None

The World Association of Perinatal Medicine recommends that pregnant women consume at least 200 milligrams of DHA daily to support infant brain, retina, and nervous system development. Research suggests that infants whose mothers supplemented with DHA during pregnancy had a healthier immune system.

One serving of Nordic Naturals' Prenatal DHA provides 205 milligrams of EPA, 480 milligrams of DHA, and 145 milligrams of other omega-3s from anchovies and sardines. The soft gels also provide 400 IU of highly absorbable vitamin D3 for an added immune boost and support the growing fetus' increased vitamin D needs. The unflavored soft gels are easy-to-swallow and won't make you queasy. Plus, like all top-quality Nordic Naturals supplements, the product is third-party purity tested and non-GMO verified.

If you don't finish all the supplements while pregnant, you may want to keep taking it in the postpartum period, pending your healthcare provider's approval. Evidence shows that DHA boosts mood in moms—especially in the postpartum period—as the fetus and placenta deplete the EPA and DHA stores from the mother during pregnancy.

Servings per container: 90 | Serving size: 2 capsules Omega-3s 830 milligrams | DHA: 480 milligrams | EPA: 205 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Vegan Omega-3 Supplement: Nordic Naturals Algae Omega 715 mg Omega-3 - Plant-Based EPA & DHA

Nordic Naturals Algae Omega 715 mg Omega-3 - Plant-Based EPA & DHA
Pros
  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

  • Sustainable source of omega-3

Cons
  • Capsule contains sorbitol and modified cornstarch

  • Expensive

Getting both EPA and DHA omega-3s on a vegan diet can be difficult, as that combination is most commonly found in fish. However, algae also contain these heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Think of it as going directly to the source, as the omega-3s in fish like mackerel, anchovies, herring, and sardines primarily comes from their plankton and algae-rich diet. Salmon is higher on the food chain, and feeds off these smaller fish, retaining the omega-3s from their algae diets.

Nordic Naturals Algae Omega is made with algae oil and contains 715 milligrams of Omega-3, including 195 milligrams of EPA and 390 mg of DHA. Additionally, it is third-party tested for potency and purity, certified vegan, non-GMO verified, and sustainably sourced.

Servings per container: 60 | Serving size: 2 capsules Omega-3s 715 milligrams | DHA: 390 milligrams | EPA: 195 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Best Liquid for Kids: BARLEAN'S Omega Pals Chirpin' Slurpin' Lemonade Fish Oil

BARLEAN'S Omega Pals Chirpin' Slurpin' Lemonade Fish Oil
Pros
  • Taste

  • Formulated for kids

Cons
  • Contains sugar alcohols

  • Harder to measure exact dosage

While many parents want their kids to get the beneficial omega-3s in fish oil, forcing them to take fishy-smelling supplements is no fun. That’s where Barlean’s Kids Omega Pals Chirpin' Slurpin' Lemonade Fish Oil comes in. Thanks to its natural lemonade flavor, the liquid supplement tastes delicious, without any artificial flavors or colors. It is also sweetened with xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is considered safe by the FDA.

Whether your kids take the supplement alone or prefer it mixed into water, juice, smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal, it goes down smoothly and doesn’t produce any fishy burps. Omega Pals is made with the highest quality, ultra-purified, natural triglyceride fish oil, and it contains no mercury or other heavy metals. This non-GMO and gluten-free fish oil is emulsified, so it has three times the absorption rate of regular fish oil or soft gels.

One 1.5 teaspoon serving contains 330 milligrams of EPA, 210 milligrams of DHA, and 135 milligrams of other omega-3 fatty acids. To properly preserve the fish oil, store the product in the refrigerator after opening.

Servings per container: 29 | Serving size: 1.5 teaspoons Omega-3s 675 milligrams | DHA: 210 milligrams | EPA: 330 milligrams | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No

Final Verdict

For a great fish oil supplement in capsule form, try Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega (view at Amazon). With 1280 milligrams of total omega-3s—with 650 milligrams EPA, 450 milligrams DHA, and 180 milligrams of other omega-3s—it has all you need, conveniently packaged in two soft gel capsules. If you are looking for a high potency omega-3 liquid supplement, try Carlson Labs' The Very Finest Fish Oil. Each teaspoon provides 1,600 milligrams of omega-3s, with 800 milligrams EPA and 500 milligrams DHA from Norwegian fish oil. (view at Amazon).

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15 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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