The Best Fish Oil Supplement

Get the omega-3s you need

The 30-Second Review

Omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA, which are found in fish oil, are proven to help reduce inflammation. This means that taking fish oil supplements regularly can potentially help alleviate or even prevent a large number of other troublesome ailments, like heart disease and high blood pressure. To find the best, we first talked to doctors and nutrition experts to see what their recommendations were, then used multiple third-party labs to assess each brands’ potency, purity, and freshness. We also consulted with the Marine Stewardship Council to verify which supplements were the most responsibly and sustainably made.

Best Overall

Contains 1,000 mg EPA+DHA per pill – a full recommended daily dose – and comes with the longest list of third-party certifications of any supplement we tested. It's also a reasonable 43 cents per pill.

Others to Consider

Includes 1,000 mg EPA+DHA per pill, plus solid third-party verification, but it's 73 cents per pill.

Life & Food Omega 3 Supreme
Just 490 mg EPA+DHA per pill, but is still third-party certified and only 18 cents per pill. (And it doesn’t smell like fish!)

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential” because our bodies need them to survive, but can’t produce them on their own. (Omega-6s are also essential in this way, but are so common in our modern diet, that it’s unusual to have a deficiency.) All of the doctors and nutrition experts we talked to agreed that a high ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s leads to inflammation, a condition that contributes to many health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Enter fish oil supplements: the best source of omega-3s there is next to eating fresh, whole fish.

Our Top Pick

Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold 1,000 mg of pure fish oil per pill, and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Our top pick, Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold, stood well above the competition for its high EPA and DHA omega-3 content (1,000 mg total per pill), affordable price (42 cents per pill), and its impressively long list of third-party certifications. Runner-up , Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil, also has 1,000 mg total EPA + DHA per pill and passed all of our purity, freshness, and third-party certification requirements with flying colors. It’s nearly twice as expensive as Nutrigold, though, at 73 cents per pill. Likewise, Life & Food Omega 3 Supreme, comes with multiple third-party certifications, plus a bonus extra-thick capsule coating that eliminates any fishy smells. It has about half the EPA and DHA omega-3s per pill as Nutrigold and Wiley’s (490 mg), but only costs 18 cents per pill.

Our Picks for the Best Fish Oil Supplement

Best Overall

Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold Everything you want in a fish oil supplement, and nothing you don’t.

Nutrigold’s otherwise unassuming brown bottle is covered in so many accolades, it looks like a tiny, eager Boy Scout. It’s certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and International Fish Oil Standards, approved by ConsumerLab, and was awarded a remarkable A- rating by Labdoor. Its PCB and mercury levels (less than 0.01 PPM) are both way below the upper limit for supplements, which is less than 0.09 PPM. It only contains five ingredients, one of which is purified water. Among all of the top contenders, Nutrigold’s EPA+DHA per-serving dosage was one of the highest as well: 1,000 mg per pill.

Close-up of Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold Fish Oil

The Triple-Strength Fish Oil, one of the four fish oil formulas Nutrigold carries, also just recently received a formula makeover. It now comes in triglyceride instead of ethyl ester form. Without delving too much into molecular biology, what you need to know is that these are two different molecular structures, and one is easier for our bodies to process. Omega-3s occur as triglycerides in nature, but when they’re processed, or esterified, they become ethyl esters. It’s widely believed that ethyl esters are harder for our bodies to absorb than triglycerides are. The science behind this is still not conclusive, Dr. Joseph Feuerstein, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University and director of integrative medicine at Stamford Hospital, told us.

Whether the new molecular form used in Nutrigold’s formula works better or not, all of our testers thought it smelled delicious once we broke open a capsule — “like freshly cooked salmon,” they said. (If you think that sounds awful, worry not — our second pick is for you).

The price is reasonable, too. At $25 for 60 softgels, it costs 42 cents per pill, which is cheaper than two-thirds of our 184 total contenders. It’s an incredible value considering it also made it into the top 6 for EPA+DHA content (and is the only brand besides Wiley’s at that level of potency to pass the rest of our cuts).

Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil passed all our cuts with flying colors. At 73 cents per pill, though, Wiley’s is more expensive than any of our top picks. Still, we couldn’t actually find anything wrong with Wiley’s Finest, besides its slightly higher price tag. Its purity levels are on par with Nutrigold’s (less than 0.01 PPM), and it’s also certified by NSF and the Marine Stewardship Council. The ingredients list is impressively minimal, too: just omega-3s, plus four inactive ingredients, including purified water. Be prepared, though: Like Nutrigold, the pills smell a lot like fresh fish.

Close-up of Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil

Unlike our other top picks, Life & Food’s Omega-3 Supreme’s pills don’t smell like fish. For that, you can thank its “enteric coating”: thick capsule walls meant to hold together until they reach your acid-filled intestines, where they eventually (and harmlessly) dissolve. Besides Life & Food’s lack of fishy smell, it also received top marks in all of our criteria — it just requires you to take more pills in order to get similar EPA and DHA levels as Nutrigold or Wiley’s (twice as many at 490 mg EPA + DHA per pill). On the upside: It’s only 18 cents per pill. If you do the math (and are willing to double up on the daily recommended serving), you can actually get just about the same amount of omega-3s from Life & Food’s Omega-3 Supreme as you can get from Nutrigold or Wiley’s, but for less.

Close-up of Life & Food’s Omega-3 Supreme Fish Oil

Best Overall

Others to Consider

Others to Consider

Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold

Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil

Life & Food Omega 3 Supreme

Total EPA+DHA per pill

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

490 mg

EPA per pill / serving

725 mg / 1,450 mg

750 mg / 750 mg

322 mg / 644 mg

DHA per pill / serving

275 mg / 550 mg

250 mg / 250 mg

168 mg / 336 mg

Cost of bottle

$25

$22

$33

Pills per bottle

60

30

180

Cost per pill

$0.42

$0.73

$0.18

Pills per serving

2

1

2

Ingredients

Purified fish oil concentrate (from Alaska pollock), softgel capsule (bovine gelatin, vegetable glycerin, purified water), and natural mixed tocopherols.

EPA, DHA, Other Omega-3s, Concentrated fish oil omega-3 ethyl esters, gelatin, glycerin, purified water, certified non-GMO mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).

Pure concentrated fish oil (from wild-caught Alaskan Pollock). Mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E). Gelatin, glycerin, food glaze, water. Enteric coating.

Certifications

MSC, IFOS, ConsumerLab, Labdoor A-

NSF, MSC

MSC, NSF, Labdoor B+

Made in the US

Did You Know?

Fish oil can go rancid.

When unsaturated fats, like EPA and DHA, are exposed to heat, light, or oxygen, they can oxidize, or go “rancid.” This can happen during production or even afterward, once the oil has already been packaged, if it’s stored improperly or kept for too long. Because of its molecular structure, fish oil is especially vulnerable to oxidation, so most supplements will come in dark brown or opaque bottles. If they don’t, stay away from them.

Oxidation doesn’t just mean going stale or becoming less effective. It actually turns a healthy, anti-inflammatory substance into a harmful, pro-inflammatory one that might contribute to the diseases you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

Rancid fish oil “increases inflammation, just like rancid cooking oils,” said Abrams. “That’s why you want to make sure you’re taking fish oil that is outside-tested for quality, for purity, for cleanliness, and that has an expiration date on it so it’s pulled off the shelf prior to becoming rancid.”

Not all fish oil is created equal.

While it’s pretty uncontroversial to say that getting omega-3s directly from fish is good for your health, there’s still an ongoing argument about whether or not omega-3 supplements have the same effect.

“We would think that something that’s natural, that’s essential to normal cell function and body function, would have clinical benefits. It just has to be proven,” said Harvard University researcher Dr. Preston Mason in a video produced by Frontline and The New York Times. “But in the meantime, there’s certainly been a lot of promotion suggesting a benefit in everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cardiovascular disease. But we still need the strong clinical trials to validate those hypotheses.”

The two marine omega-3s both have their own special role. While EPA is associated with lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation, DHA is linked to helping with brain and nerve function. Abrams explained this distinction, but was quick to point out that it’s not as clear-cut as scientists once thought.

“Turns out, shockingly, you need both of them (EPA and DHA) for a lot of those processes,” she told us. “That’s why I don’t differentiate in my general recommendation. But if I have a pregnant woman in my office, I want to make sure that whatever she’s taking has a big dose of DHA.”

Some formulas advertise high levels of “fish oil” or “omega-3s,” but when you check out their EPA+DHA content, the part that really matters, that turns out to be much lower.

Costco’s Kirkland Signature-brand fish oil, for example, contains 1,000 mg of “fish oil concentrate,” but only 250 mg EPA+DHA per serving. Krill oils are even worse offenders because, according to Abrams, they’re more effective than fish oil dose per dose but cost more to produce. In other words, supplement manufacturers can boast about the potency of krill oil on their bottles while, to save money, including tiny amounts of it, mixed with omega-3s from other, less brag-worthy sources. Some of the krill oil supplements we looked at contained less than 100 mg EPA+DHA per serving.

An even less potent option: fish oil gummies. Of the three we looked at, two didn’t even disclose their EPA+DHA levels, and the other included only 57 mg. But we couldn’t be too surprised. Can you imagine chewing a fish-flavored gummy, let alone one potent enough to rival a softgel? It’s for the best to just take fish oil in pill form.

Low-dose supplements like these aren’t bad per se; they’re just not very practical. When a patient brings one to her office, Abrams said her reaction is, “Yeah, that’s really great; I’m so glad that was cheap, but you’re going to have to take 15 of them per day. But once you do, they’ll really help you!”

You can also just eat fish to get Omega-3s.

Most experts agree that whenever possible, it’s best to get nutrients from whole foods rather than vitamins. “As is almost always the case with all nutrients, they are better absorbed as food, because that’s what our body was created to process,” says Abrams, “and it looks like, in studies, that omega-3 from whole fish is better absorbed than from fish oil capsules. And that’s not surprising because, again, eating whole food is what our body is made for.”

Dr. Andrew Weil, famous for his writing on holistic health, recommends eating “oily fleshed, wild-caught, cold-water fish” two to three times per week. He lists his favorites as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and black cod. Kressler agrees that this amount, combined with a lower omega-6 intake, would be enough for most people.

Whole fish can also provide nutrients fish oil supplements can’t, like protein, vitamin D, and selenium, the last of which helps protect against mercury toxicity.

But there are a couple of reasons why getting all of your omega-3s from whole fish might not be the best or most practical way to go either. Sears cautioned that because fish contain contaminants like PCBs and mercury, eating enough for a therapeutic dose of EPA+DHA could be dangerous. Abrams said that while nutrients may be better absorbed from whole foods, buying all the fish you need could get expensive, too — and, of course, some people just don’t like eating fish.

For those who do want to eat more fish, either instead of taking fish oil or in addition to taking it, she recommends checking FishWise for a list of the most sustainable, least-toxic species to eat. FishWise used to be known for its wallet-sized buying guides, but it now also has its own free app.

Omega-3s come from plants, too.

Even if you don’t eat animal protein, you can still get omega-3s from other sources. Some of the most omega-3-rich plant foods include seeds, beans, seaweed, the cabbage family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), berries, and certain spices. You can also find omega-3 supplements for vegetarians, often made with algae or omega-3-rich seeds.

Here are a few examples of some of the best omega-3 fatty acid sources, besides fish:

Food Serving Omega-3 Content
Flax seeds

1 Tbsp

2,300 mg

Chia seeds

1 Tbsp

2,600 mg

Hemp seeds

1 Tbsp

1,000 mg

Soybeans

1 cup

560 mg

Wakame (seaweed)

1 cup

420.8 mg

Kidney beans

1 cup

301 mg

Broccoli

1 cup

227 mg

Blueberries

1 cup

85.8 mg

Cloves

1 tsp (ground)

85.6 mg

Oregano

1 tsp (dried leaves)

41.8 mg

Taking fish oil with a meal helps with absorption.

The experts we spoke to agreed that your body absorbs fish oil best when you take it with a meal. “When you take it with food, especially protein, they can act as emulsifiers, and they help emulsify the fish oil so it can be absorbed more readily,” said Sears. “So it’s always best to take fish oil with a meal. It doesn’t have to be a high-fat meal, just a meal that contains some proteins and carbohydrates.”

Labdoor agrees, and adds that you should avoid taking it before you exercise, or your stomach might protest. Apart from syncing with your workout routine, though, time of day doesn’t matter. If your supplement suggests a serving size of two pills, you can take them either together or morning and night. Abrams recommends the once-a-day approach, just so that you’ll remember to take them consistently.

You can also take too much fish oil.

As with any good thing, you can overdo fish oil, too. Even if you’re taking a top-of-the-line supplement that has been third-party tested for purity, like any of our top picks, an excessive dose can mess with your body.

Like aspirin, fish oil is a blood-thinner, which makes it desirable for lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. “Too much fish oil increases bleeding time,” confirmed Abrams, “and that means for procedures, for injuries, if you fall and hit your head, you can bleed, like you’re taking aspirin.” This begins to happen at a daily dosage of about six grams, she said. That’s 6,000 mg, or three servings of our top pick, Nutrigold Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold.

If you’re already on anticoagulants to prevent issues like blood clots or strokes, make sure to talk to your doctor about how much fish oil is safe for you to take.

Take Action

Get a blood test. Most Americans consume 10 times more omega-6 than omega-3, according to the National Institute of Health. So it seems safe to say that almost everyone in this country could benefit from a bump in their omega-3 intake. But it’s possible that, especially if you’re health conscious, already eat plenty of fish, and avoid eating too many omega-6-rich foods, you could already have the perfect 1:1 omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio. You might even be lacking in omega-6s. Fortunately, a blood test — either at a doctor’s office or at home via a finger prick kit—can tell you where you stand.

Eat lower on the food chain. When it comes to toxins, not all fish are created equal. Picture a little fish with low levels of mercury in its system. If a medium-sized fish eats these little fish every day, its body will fill up with mercury. And if a big fish eats those medium-sized fish regularly, its body will be even more stuffed with toxins. This is called biomagnification, and it continues all the way up the food chain, straight to us.

Biomagnification is the reason why Abrams recommends eating sardines, which offer high levels of omega-3s and, because they’re low on the food chain, have very low levels of toxicity. They’re also a more sustainable source, adds Dr. Michael Murray, a doctor of natural medicine and director of product science and innovation at Natural Factors, a Canadian supplement company.