There can be no doubt that fish is an important component of a healthy diet. Indeed, official recommendations suggest that people should be eating between two and three servings of fatty fish per week (1,2). Now, official recommendations aren’t always right but in this case, there is considerable support for the benefits of fish.
Those benefits are mostly associated with the fatty acids that the fish contain, rather than their nutrient composition as a whole. Because of this, some people turn to high quality fish oil brands as a way to get the benefits that they need.
However, fish oil can be challenging. For one thing, some brands have a fairly intense aftertaste, which is extremely unappealing. At the same time, the levels of beneficial compounds can vary and some companies are much less reliable than others.
That’s why this post highlights eight high-quality brands that you can choose from. These have all been verified by independent testing or come from extremely reliable companies. As a result, they can all work well as a way to improve your health – especially if you don’t get enough fish in your diet.
Why Use Fish Oil?
The health benefits of fish and fish oil is a large topic and I’m not going to cover it all here. After all, there has been extensive research into the benefits that the compounds from fish offers. In particular, fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
This type of fatty acid is extremely important and many people don’t get enough of it in their diet. Having a high enough intake can significantly lower your risk of many diseases, including heart disease (3,4). Indeed, eating fish regularly may lower the risk of death from heart failure (5,6)
Other health benefits have also been associated with fish and/or fish oil. These include decreases in the risk of depression (7), helping to reduce dry eyes (8) and improvements to triglyceride levels (9,10). Furthermore, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help to fight depression and can make antidepressants more effective (11,12).
Many people do have an unfavorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 , particularly because omega-6 is prevalent in many common foods, including vegetable oils (15).
To promote good health, it’s important to decrease your omega-6 intake and also raise the omega-3 you consume. Fish and fish oil are powerful ways to do just that.
The benefits of fish oil are associated with two key types of omega-3 fatty acids. These are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The two compounds work both in isolation and in combination with one another. As a result, you need sufficient amounts of each to get the most health benefits. The site Psychology Today offers details about these two compounds and their implications.
This is a key reason why most fish oil supplements will provide information about their EPA and DHA levels.
The ideal ratios of EPA and DHA tend to vary across the lifespan. But, DHA tends to be most important for children and for seniors, while EPA remains critical regardless of a person’s age (16). One reason for this is that EPA helps to lower inflammation, while DHA is less effective in this role (17).
One other thing to consider is dose. Opinions vary about how much fish oil you should consume, especially as the research has considered many different doses.
However, one literature review suggested that doses from 0.5 grams to 1.8 grams of DHA and/or EPA per day were associated with health benefits, with the higher doses being more effective (18). You do want both DHA and EPA but higher levels of EPA are ideal.
Bear in mind, that the dose refers to the total amount of omega-3 fatty acids, not to the size of the softgel. With this type of product, the size of the supplement and the amount of omega-3 will differ, as other components are required to make them stable.
Overall, it’s clear that there are significant health benefits to fish oils. But, which supplements are seriously worth considering?
EPA: 504 mg
DHA: 378 mg
Omega-3 Total: 950 mg
Serving Size: Not Specified
In terms of omega-3 totals, this brand would offer what you need to get health benefits – although the concentrations are not amazing. However, a key advantage of this brand is their guarantees. For example, the company ensures the product is gluten, wheat and dairy free, which most other companies don’t bother to focus on.
Additionally, the supplement has been approved through third-party testing, so you know that you’re getting exactly what the label says.
The other main advantage is simply that the supplement is inexpensive. This aspect may be particularly relevant to anyone who is on a budget or people who aren’t sure whether a fish oil supplement will help them.
EPA: 1,200 mg
DHA: 900 mg
Omega-3 Total: 2,250 mg
Serving Size: 3 softgels
This is one of the most popular fish oil products on the market and has been tested for purity and heavy metals. Much of the popularity comes from the fact that this product has a high dose of EPA and DHA, considerably higher than most of the other options on this list.
Additionally, the serving size here is three softgels, which is a fairly common amount. So, you don’t have to consume a large number of pills to get that dose.
Another interesting thing is that the company focuses on ensuring there is no aftertaste and that you’re not going to have any fish-flavored burps. For the most part, reviews reinforce that perception although, as is always the case, people do have different experiences.
Still, the reviews for this particular product are extremely positive and it is a good way to get a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
EPA: 1,400 mg
DHA: 480 mg
Omega-3 Total: 2,200 mg
Serving Size: 2 softgels
This is another fairly high dose product, which is also promoted as being burpless. As with the previous example, the majority of reviewers agree with that claim, suggesting that it does work as advertised for most people.
One of the most notable things about this supplement is the ratio of EPA to DHA. The majority of fish oil brands do have more EPA, which is the form that offers the most benefits. But, this particular supplement has a considerably better EPA to DHA ratio than most others. This alone makes the supplement desirable and may be the reason behind the ‘superior triglyceride form’ claim.
On a side note, the company does have an emphasis on wild fish as a source and ensures that all its ingredients are non-GMO. Additionally, it only takes two pills (rather than three) to get the dose, which is a pretty desirable outcome.
EPA: 1,450 mg
DHA: 550 mg
Omega-3 Total: 2,100 mg
Serving Size: 2 softgels
This product isn’t nearly as popular on Amazon as the previous two examples. But, that doesn’t mean it should be excluded. Instead, this is an especially reliable brand and the supplements themselves have passed independent testing, which is particularly important.
There is also a much stronger focus on quality with this brand. For example, the supplements are verified as being non-GMO and also soy free. Likewise, the company has a strong sustainability focus and relies on wild fish as the source of the oil.
The end result is that you have a high-quality product that has few risks associated with it.
As is often the case, that emphasis on quality does result in a higher price tag. In fact, this particular product is more expensive than most others on the list, despite the fact that there are only 60 capsules in it. Now, you do only need two capsules per serving, rather than three. But, even then, the cost per serving is significantly higher than competing products.
EPA: 600 mg
DHA: 400 mg
Omega-3 Total: 1,000 mg
Serving Size: 1 capsule
This is another brand that has passed independent testing, even though the product itself isn’t that popular on Amazon. Beyond the testing, the biggest advantage this brand has is that you only need one softgel to get the dose of omega-3 on the bottle.
As such, you could easily increase your intake by having two softgels.
However, even though the brand is decent, it is fairly expensive. Realistically, you don’t get enough advantages with this brand for the money you pay. As a result, some of the more concentrated options may be a better pick.
Vital Choice Salmon Oil
EPA: 240 mg
DHA: 220 mg
Omega-3 Total: 600 mg
Serving Size: 3 softgels
This supplement is a little different than most, as the company has a strong focus on the source. As such, the fish oil here comes from wild salmon and is extracted soon after harvest.
The company behind the oil is Vital Choice, which is highly reliable and has a strong focus on organic and natural products. One aspect of this is that the product doesn’t use any artificial preservatives or colors.
Likewise, the supplements are free from soy, yeast, wheat, dairy and sugar.
In this case, the fish oil itself is a relatively low dose, compared to the other options. Additionally, the ratio of EPA to DHA is not ideal, as the two are close to equal in amount.
Still, this is a very reliable brand and you are getting enough DHA and EPA to promote health benefits. So, this is a product worth seriously considering, especially as it is fairly good value for money.
EPA: 400 mg
DHA: 300 mg
Omega-3 Total: 800 mg
Serving Size: 1 softgel
This is another one of the smaller fish oil supplements, with just 800 mg of omega-3 per softgel. Still, it would be easy enough to take two pills, so this isn’t a major issue. For that matter, the product is relatively inexpensive. When that aspect is considered, the lower levels are not a reason to avoid it.
This brand also has the advantage of being popular and also passing third party testing. These two elements mean that the supplement is extremely reliable.
There is also an added lemon flavor with these supplements. This aspect may make them easier to take, especially for people who struggle with other brands.
EPA: 800 mg
DHA: 600 mg
Omega-3 Total: 1,400 mg
Serving Size: 2 softgels
This is an extremely popular brand and is advertised as being high strength and also burpless. The company also has a strong emphasis on distillation, helping to ensure that the final product is high purity.
The large number of positive reviews alone is a key reason for considering this product. At the same time, the supplement is good value for money, especially if you choose one of the larger sizes.
As with every other brand, it’s worth noting that the claim burpless is not 100% accurate. In particular, there will always be some people who experience fishy burps, regardless of the brand that they choose.
Still, even if you do have this issue, the health benefits of fish oil tend to outweigh any discomfort.
Fish oil supplements can be a powerful way to get the fatty acids from fish, including EPA and DHA. This type of supplement is particularly relevant if you don’t like the taste of fish or simply don’t want to include it in your diet. If nothing else, fish oil supplements are easier to manage and they are a more attractive option in many situations.
Besides that, many people find that they have a hard time buying and cooking fish twice a week - while supplements let you get around that challenge entirely.
Personally, I would always recommend getting your nutrition from whole foods, rather than supplements, if possible. Doing so gives you access to more nutrients, even though the concentration of some of the fatty acids may not be as high.
There are also many reliable places that you can turn to for high quality and healthy fish. Your local market is always a good place to start and you may even be able to purchase from fishermen themselves.
However, one key location that I strongly recommend is a site called Vital Choice. This is an online store that specializes in high quality wild seafood and a range of organic products. They also ship throughout the United States. As such, their products are a particularly powerful option for anyone who does not have a local source of fresh wild seafood.
If you are going to use supplements, then there is a useful article on the site Arthritis Foundation. This talks about ways to reduce the aftertaste that often comes with any fish oil.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.