The Best Fish Oil Supplements, According to a Dietitian

Our top recommendation is GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Mini

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The 8 Best Fish Oil Supplements, According to a Dietitian

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

You might know that fish and, in particular, the omega-3 fats they contain, DHA and EPA, are an important part of a healthy diet. EPA and DHA are involved in fetal development, brain and eye health, and heart and blood vessel health. Our bodies produce only small amounts of EPA and DHA, so we have to get these fats from the diet or from supplements.

If you are healthy and are not at increased risk of heart disease, consuming a balanced diet that includes fish can provide you with adequate amounts of omega-3s. If you do not eat fish, have elevated levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood), have had a recent heart attack, or if you have chronic heart failure, you may benefit from a fish oil supplement.

There are certain things to consider when searching for a supplement. “Make sure it is third-party tested to ensure it is pure and safe and that it contains what it says on the bottle since fish oil can be contaminated with heavy metals. Make sure it does not contain fillers and that the fish they are using are listed on the bottle,” says Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD of Within Nutrition.

Verywell Fit Approved Fish Oil Supplements

  • Best Overall: GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Mini packs a high concentration of EPA and DHA into a tiny pill that is approved by ConsumerLab and coated to reduce aftertaste.
  • Best Vegan: DEVA Vegan Omega-3 DHA-EPA is also ConsumerLab approved and made from algae, giving you an entirely plant-based source of the key omega-3s found in fish.

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 which dosage to take.

Is a Fish Oil Supplement Beneficial?

We always recommend getting nutrients from food first whenever possible, as eating fish provides key nutrients that are not found in fish oil supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. That being said, there are certain conditions for which research modestly supports supplementing with fish oil.

Keep in mind that fish oil supplements should not replace your regular medications or other factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet and exercise. If you fit into one of the below groups, you should discuss fish oil supplementation with a healthcare provider.

  • Those with chronic heart failure: Fish oil supplementation may benefit those with heart failure who have reduced left ventricular function. Those with cardiovascular disease can consume one gram of EPA and DHA from fish or fish oil supplements. However, it is important to note that research does not support fish oil supplementation for heart failure prevention.
  • Those recovering from a heart attack: If you recently had a heart attack, you may benefit from fish oil supplementation. However, it is important to note that research does not support fish oil supplementation for heart attack prevention in people who have heart disease, only for those who recently had a heart attack.
  • Those with high triglyceride (fat in the blood) levels: High-dose fish oil can help lower triglyceride levels if you have severe hypertriglyceridemia (levels over 500 mg/dl). Individuals with high triglyceride levels can consume four grams of EPA+DHA or EPA-only per day from over-the-counter or prescription supplements under the direction of a healthcare provider. This treatment may decrease triglycerides by over 30%. If you have high LDL, or bad cholesterol, consider using an EPA-only treatment.
  • Those with dry eye disease: A 2019 review of 17 studies indicated that omega-3 supplementation improved dry eye symptoms in patients with dry eye disease.
  • Those with depression: If you do not eat fish, fish oil may help treat existing depressive symptoms, but it should not take the place of medications and other forms of treatment. Fish oil supplements have not been shown to prevent depression.
  • Those who do not eat fish: If you do not consume fish because you are on a vegetarian diet, vegan, are allergic, or simply do not like fish, you might consider algal oil supplements. These vegan supplements may help you meet your omega-3 needs. However, more studies are needed to establish EPA and DHA recommendations for vegetarians and vegans.

Who May Not Benefit from Fish Oil Supplements

If you are healthy and not at risk of heart disease, consuming a balanced diet that includes fish will provide you with enough omega-3 fats, and there is no need to supplement with fish oil. The American Heart Association recommends one to two servings of fatty fish per week for general heart health.

Research currently does not recommend fish oil supplementation for the following situations:

  • Those looking to prevent strokes: Research does not support fish oil supplementation to prevent stroke or atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). In fact, a 2021 review of a collection of studies reported that omega-3 supplementation increased the risk of atrial fibrillation.
  • Those with inflammatory bowel disease: Research does not currently support use of omega-3 supplements in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease.
  • Those taking blood-thinning medication: High-dose omega-3 supplementation can lead to blood thinning. If you are taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin (brand names Coumadin and Jantoven), you should only consider fish oil supplementation under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
  • Those taking blood pressure lowering medication: Fish oil may lower blood pressure slightly, so if you are taking medication be sure to consult with a healthcare provider.

Best Overall: GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Mini

GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Mini

Walmart

Pros
  • ConsumerLab tested and approved

  • Small pills are coated to reduce aftertaste

  • High concentration EPA and DHA

Cons
  • Two softgels per dose

GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil minis provide a high concentration of fish oil in two small softgels with no fishy aftertaste. They are enteric-coated, meaning they are coated in a material that allows for delayed release of the oils, helping maintain a neutral flavor.

In addition to the lack of aftertaste, we like that GNC fish oil supplements come in a smaller size. Fish oil softgels are usually fairly large, ranging in size from half an inch to over an inch, which some people may find hard to swallow. GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Mini supplements are smaller, making it easy to add these into your daily routine. The suggested dose is two mini softgel capsules to be taken with food. However, if you prefer to take only one capsule, the manufacturer of this supplement also produces a large softgel option.

GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Minis contain a high concentration of the omega-3s EPA and DHA, with 734 milligrams of EPA and 266 milligrams of DHA per dose. It is best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dose for your needs. These fish oil supplements are tested and approved by ConsumerLab, one of our top third-party organizations, to ensure they are fresh and free from heavy metals.

Form: Softgel | EPA: 734 mg/svg | DHA: 266 mg/svg | Recommended Use: 2 mini softgel capsules daily with food

Best High Dose: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Liquid, Lemon Flavor

Pros
  • ConsumerLab approved

  • Triglyceride form which is possibly better absorbed

  • Small serving size

Cons
  • Dose may not be appropriate for all consumers

Nordic Naturals is a long-time trusted brand in the world of fish oil supplements. We like that the company provides a Certificate of Analysis for each product, which verifies it has been third party tested to ensure it is free from contaminants and heavy metals. They are approved by ConsumerLab, and they partner with Friend of the Sea, an organization that ensures sustainable fishing. To top it all off, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Liquid is easy to take, with a serving size of just one liquid teaspoon.

This fish oil supplement contains a high concentration of omega-3 fats. It includes 1,460 milligrams of EPA and 1,010 milligrams of DHA in the triglyceride form, which some research has shown is the better absorbed form, though other research shows that the different forms are absorbed similarly.

Nordic Naturals fish oil supplements are free from any artificial additives or fillers. They are flavored with a subtle lemon flavor, so you do not have to worry about a fishy taste. They are also verified non-GMO.  Given the high concentration of omega-3s, be sure to check with a healthcare provider to ensure this is the right dose for you.

Form: Liquid | EPA: 1460 mg/svg | DHA: 1010 mg/svg | Recommended Use: 1 teaspoon daily with food

Best Liquid: Wild Foods Wild Fish Oil

Wild Foods Wild Fish Oil

Amazon

Pros
  • ConsumerLab approved

  • Flavored with lemon, rosemary, vanilla

  • Friend of the Sea certified

Cons
  • Amounts may be too moderate for certain consumers

In case you do not like swallowing pills, Wild Fish Oil is a lower concentration liquid fish oil supplement option. We like that Wild Fish Oil has been tested by ConsumerLab and is certified by Friend of the Sea. We also like that this supplement is flavored with lemon, rosemary, and vanilla to prevent a fishy taste.

One teaspoon of Wild Fish Oil contains moderate amounts of omega-3s, with 430 milligrams of EPA and 333 milligrams of DHA. It is unique in that it also contains 240 milligrams of DPA. Though the benefits of DPA have not been studied extensively in humans yet, initial research suggests that DPA may help reduce inflammation and improve certain factors connected to cardiovascular and neural health. It also may help store EPA and DHA.

Form: Liquid | EPA: 430 mg/svg | DHA: 333 mg/svg | Recommended Use: 1 teaspoon once or twice daily

Best Vegan: DEVA Vegan Omega-3 DHA-EPA

DEVA Vegan Omega-3 DHA-EPA

iHerb

Pros
  • ConsumerLab tested and approved

  • Omega-3s from algal oil

  • Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

Cons
  • Lower dose EPA

  • Large pill

If you are vegetarian, vegan, or have a fish allergy, you might be wondering how you can get enough omega-3 fats. The good news is that fish get their omega-3 fats from eating plankton, and the plankton get their omega-3 fats from algae. You, therefore, have the option of going straight to the source and using an algal oil supplement.

Deva Vegan Omega-3 DHA is a vegan softgel containing 300-420 milligrams per serving of plant-based DHA. It is a bit lower in EPA, with 150-210 milligrams per serving. If you have a hard time swallowing pills, one thing to note is that this pill is on the larger side, at around 1.1 inches. It does contain orange oil and rosemary extract for a light flavor, and since it does not contain any fish, you do not have to worry about a fishy aftertaste. This supplement has been tested and approved by ConsumerLab, one of our most trusted third-party testers.

Form: Softgel | EPA: 150-210 mg/svg | DHA: 300-420 mg/svg | Recommended Use: Take 1 softgel daily with food

Best Enteric Coated: Nature Made Burp-Less Fish Oil

Nature Made Burp-Less Fish Oil

Walgreens

Pros
  • USP certified

  • Enteric-coated softgel

  • Only one pill daily

Cons
  • Large pill

Some fish oil supplements have the unpleasant side effect of a fishy aftertaste. Nature Made fish oil supplements are enteric-coated, which helps slow the release of the fish oil, reducing reactions such as fishy burps (NatureMade advertises them as burp-less!). These pills are a bit larger in size, but you only need to take one per day with water and a meal.

Nature Made fish oil supplements contain a higher concentration of the omega-3 EPA, with 683 milligrams per pill, so you should check with a healthcare provider to ensure this is the right dose for you. We also like that Nature Made fish oil supplements are third-party tested by USP and ConsumerLab, two of our most trusted third-party organizations.

Form: Softgel | EPA: 683 mg/svg | DHA: 252 mg/svg | Recommended Use: Take 1 softgel daily with water and a meal

Best Budget: Kirkland Signature Natural Fish Oil

Kirkland Signature Natural Fish Oil

Costco

Pros
  • USP certified

  • Inexpensive

  • Narrow capsules for easy swallowing

Cons
  • Not enteric coated

  • Low dose omega-3s

If size and number of pills are less of a concern, and you are looking for an affordable option, Kirkland Signature Natural Fish Oil may a good choice. The bottle contains 400 softgels, which comes out to only a few cents per dose. The suggested serving is one softgel taken twice daily. While the softgels are large, they are also narrow, which may make them easier to swallow.

Kirkland Signature's fish oil contains a low dose of omega-3s, with a total of 250 milligrams of EPA and DHA combined. While it is not enteric-coated to help reduce a fishy aftertaste, the lack of coating may lead to increased absorption. This supplement is approved by both USP and ConsumerLab to ensure freshness and lack of contaminants.

Form: Softgel | EPA + DHA: 250 mg/svg | Recommended Use: Take 1 softgel 2 times daily with water or a meal

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

BARLEAN'S Omega Pals Chirpin' Slurpin' Lemonade Fish Oil

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • ConsumerLab verified

  • Lemon flavored

  • Can be given to children 1 year and up

Cons
  • Thick liquid

If your kids do not like eating fish, and you want them to get a serving of omega-3 fats, ask a healthcare provider if a fish oil supplement may be beneficial. 

Barlean’s Omega Pals Chirpin’ Slurpin’ Lemonade Flavor is a good option for kids because it comes in liquid form and can be added to foods like yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal. The lemon flavor masks any fishy taste, and the supplement can be given to children ages 1 year old and older.

This fish oil supplement contains moderate amounts of omega-3s, with 330 milligrams of EPA and 210 milligrams of DHA. This supplement has been approved by ConsumerLab and is also dairy-free, sugar-free, and non-GMO.

Form: Liquid | EPA: 330 mg/svg | DHA: 210 mg/svg | Recommended Use: Take 1 ½ teaspoons daily straight from the spoon or mixed into food of choice

Final Verdict

GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Minis are our top pick for a fish oil supplement. They are enteric-coated to help reduce a fishy aftertaste and contain a high concentration of the omega-3s EPA and DHA to support heart health. The smaller size of the capsules makes them easier to swallow.

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 here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab. 

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.

The Confusing Research on Fish Oil Supplements

While the benefits of regular fish consumption are clear, the research is mixed on the potential benefits of taking fish oil supplements if you have one of the following conditions.

Cancer

Researchers have studied whether intakes of omega-3s might reduce cancer risk due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows fish oil supplementation may be associated with a reduced risk of ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer, colorectal cancers, and early stages of prostate cancer. Other studies have found no association between omega-3 intake and cancer risk, and some have even found omega-3s might increase the risk of certain cancers such as prostate cancer.

Pregnancy

DHA is critical for development of the brain and retina in the fetus and in infants. Consuming 8 to 12 ounces of low mercury fish per week during pregnancy is associated with positive infant health outcomes. There is some evidence that, among those with low omega-3 intakes, DHA supplementation may reduce risk of premature birth. Research on omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy looking at the baby’s health and development, however, is mixed.

There is no Dietary Reference Intake for DHA during pregnancy.

Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Cognitive Function

A 2012 review of 10 studies found that omega-3 supplementation does not affect cognitive function in healthy older adults or in those with Alzheimer’s disease. However, for those with mild cognitive impairment, omega-3s may improve certain aspects of cognitive function, such as processing speed and attention, but more research is needed.

Studies regarding use of fish oil to manage dry eye disease are inconsistent. If you have dry eyes associated with contact lenses, fish oil supplementation may be beneficial, but more research is needed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fish oil has been studied for its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms since the intake of omega-3 fats can reduce some forms of inflammation. Some studies show fish oil may help reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis when taken along with standard medication. Other studies suggest fish oil does not significantly affect symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it may reduce the amount of pain medication needed. However, an ideal dose has not been determined.

What to Look for In a Fish Oil Supplement

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  1. Third-party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  2. Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  3. The third-party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  4. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  5. Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Third-party testing is helpful if you are concerned about the risk of fish contamination. Fish can accumulate toxins, including mercury, which can damage the nervous system. It can also accumulate dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which may cause cancer at low levels of exposure over time. However, these contaminants have generally not been found in dangerous levels in fish oil. This is likely because fish oils go through a purification process and because contaminants such as mercury bind to proteins, such as fish meat, and not oil.

While toxin contamination may be a low concern, fish oils can go rancid. This may not only cause an unpleasant odor and taste, but it can reduce safety and efficacy. It is best to choose a fish oil supplement that has been third-party tested to ensure the oil is still fresh. Be aware though that spoilage may still occur after the product is opened if it becomes exposed to air or excessive heat, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s tips for proper storage.

Form

Fish oil supplements are available as softgels, capsules, liquids, and gummies. Fish oil supplements typically contain EPA, DHA, or both in varying concentrations. These omega-3s can occur in a few forms that are sometimes declared on the label:

Triglyceride: Omega-3 fats in fish oil naturally occur in a form called triglycerides. Some supplements contain this form, although in many other supplements the fish oil has been converted to other forms to purify, concentrate, or stabilize it.  

Ethyl ester: This is one of the most common forms of fish oil in supplements and medications and is created by exposing the fish oil to ethanol to remove contaminants and concentrate the EPA and DHA. This may, however, slightly reduce the small amounts of vitamins that may be present in fish oil.

Re-esterified triglycerides: This form is made by chemically converting ethyl esters back to the original triglyceride form.

Monoglyceride: This form is made by breaking down the triglyceride so the omega-3 fats can be easily absorbed, although your body will do this naturally.

Research shows that when taken with a meal containing fat, each of these forms of fish oil will be equally absorbed over 24 hours. However, if you are taking fish oil with a small meal or no food, you may want to choose forms listed as triglyceride or re-esterified triglyceride.

Note that cod or fish liver oils are not necessarily a good substitute for fish oil supplements, as these are high in vitamins A and D. One tablespoon contains about 4,050 micrograms of retinol (the animal form of vitamin A) and 1,360 IU of vitamin D. Exceeding 1,500 to 7,500 micrograms of retinol and 10,000 IU of vitamin D can pose negative health outcomes.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Fish oil supplements typically contain EPA, DHA, and may also contain other fats such as omega-7 (also called palmitoleic acid), oleic acid, or an omega-6 fat  called GLA. Some fish oil supplements contain added vitamins, such as vitamin E, to help stabilize the oils to prevent them from going rancid.

Fish oil supplements can have a blood-thinning effect and may lower blood pressure slightly. If you are taking blood-thinning or blood pressure lowering medication, be sure to discuss fish oil supplement use with a healthcare provider.

Fish Oil Dosage

Doses of fish oil supplementation vary and will depend on why you are using them. A general dose is around 300 to 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA, but some treatments may involve higher doses, up to 4,000 milligrams per day. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for you.

The National Institute of Health has established Adequate Intakes for the omega-3 Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), which must be obtained from the diet. Our bodies convert very small amounts of ALA to EPA and DHA. There are no established specific intake recommendations for EPA and DHA. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the Adequate Intakes for Omega-3s are as follows:

Birth to 6 months: 0.5 g

7 to 12 months*: 0.5 g

1-3 years*: 0.7 g

4-8 years**: 0.9 g

9-13 years**: Males - 1.2 g, Females - 1.0 g

14-18 years**: Males - 1.6 g, Females - 1.1 g

19-50 years**: Males - 1.6 g, Females - 1.1 g

51+ years**: Males - 1.6 g, Females - 1.1 g

Pregnant women: 1.4 g

Lactating women: 1.3 g

*As total omega-3s

**As ALA

How Much is Too Much?

High amounts of EPA and DHA may suppress the immune system. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 5 grams of EPA and DHA from supplements daily unless a healthcare provider indicates otherwise.

Side effects from fish oil supplements are usually mild but can include an unpleasant taste in the mouth, bad breath, nausea, diarrhea, headache, fishy burps, heartburn, and smelly sweat.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does fish oil lower cholesterol?

    Fish oil may slightly raise levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). Some studies show fish oil may slightly lower total and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), although other studies show no effect. However, the freshness of fish oil supplements is important. A 2017 study found rancid (oxidized) fish oil supplements are less effective at reducing cholesterol than high-quality fish oil. Fish oil supplementation should not take the place of your regular medication and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

  • Is fish oil a blood thinner?

    Fish oil can have a blood-thinning effect, but it may depend on the dose. If you are taking a blood-thinning medication, speak to a healthcare provider before using fish oil supplements.

  • Does fish oil lower blood pressure?

    Fish oil can lower blood pressure slightly. If you are taking blood pressure lowering medication, speak to a healthcare provider before using fish oil supplements.

  • Is omega 3 the same as fish oil?

    There are 3 main types of omega-3 fats, including ALA, EPA, and DHA. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, while ALA can be found mainly in plant oils, including canola oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. Not all omega-3 supplements are derived from fish oil; some are derived from krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil.

    Most of the research looking at the health benefits of omega-3s has been on EPA and DHA rather than ALA. This is why there are so many recommendations to get DHA and EPA from fatty fish, fish oil supplements, or algal oil.

  • Does fish oil help joints?

    Research on fish oil use in the management of joint pain is inconsistent. Studies suggest fish oil may modestly help relieve joint pain when used alongside other therapies.

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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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