If there's any supplement that's recommended over and over again, its fish oil.
You're unlikely to get all the omega 3's you need from your diet unless you consume fish on a regular basis.
Considering omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., it is time to invest in fish oil supplements to decrease the risk.
Where and what do you get?
We've made a buying guide that will help you decide…
What To Look For In Fish Oil Supplements
Since our list includes both Krill Oil and Fish Oil supplements, now’s a great time to look at the differences of each one.
Fish oil comes from fatty fish like anchovies, mackerel and salmon and provides the two main types of omega-3 fatty acids — EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Krill oil comes from tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill, which are also high in EPA and DHA.
The fatty acids in fish oil are in the form of triglycerides while the fatty acids in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids, which some authorities believe helps increase their absorption and effectiveness.
Both fish oil and krill oil are excellent sources of EPA and DHA.
The primary difference is that the body may absorb and use the fatty acids in krill oil more efficiently than those in fish oil.
When it comes to choosing a good fish oil or krill oil supplement, one of the main considerations is purity.
There are quite a few toxins that fish naturally absorb from their food as well as their environment, such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins.
When it comes to quality, very high quality fish oil/krill oil comes from European labs, which means that you should check the label for EuroFins- or IFOS-compliance.
For those products manufactured in the US, look for the GMP Seal (United States Food and Drug Administration Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) regulations and voluntary Natural Products Association (NPA) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) regulations).
It’s also important to look for 3rd party testing to insure purity and potency.
Fish Oil Impurities
Unfortunately, not all fish oil/ krill oil products are as pure as they could be, with several brands selling products that have an unacceptable level of impurities, such as mercury and PCBs.
The best way to avoid impurities is to look for products that meet the highest international standards of quality and purity.
One of the best guarantees that a product has had as many impurities removed as possible is if the company can provide a certificate of analysis.
Additionally, many companies post a quality seal right on their website and on the bottle itself.
When it comes to potency, it’s not so much the total fish oil content, but the content of EPA and DHA.
Both the World Health Organization and Consumer Lab suggest 500 mg combined EPA and DHA for a minimum daily dose, with some sources suggesting up to 1-2 grams per day.
Typically, the best fish oil products will have up to twice the EPA content over the DHA content and the combined total will make up most of the total gram listing of the typical product: for example, a 1 gram fish oil serving should contain at least 500 mg EPA to 250 mg DHA.
Others may contain less but may have additional nutrients included, which is primarily true of our Top 10 krill oil products.
A high-quality, fresh fish oil or krill oil should be reasonably free of any fishy tastes or smells, in as much as that’s possible.
The oil, whether in a softgel or liquid form, should also be reasonably free of cloudiness or “floaters.”
Fish oil and krill oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight because excessive exposure to light or heat will make smell and taste bad.
When choosing the form of fish oil supplement, you should look for the one that absorbs the best.
There are 4 main types or forms of Omega-3s available as a supplement.
Since Omega-3s occur naturally in the triglyceride form, making this form a great choice.
There are cheaper versions, but absorption is not as good, despite what the ads may claim.
These less expensive versions include: ethyl ester, which is a partially synthetic form, and may be listed on the bottle as “marine oil concentrate”, phospholipids, (which absorb well but may be low dosed, this is a common form used with krill oil products) and monoglycerides (they are expensive, lack human clinical studies).
Krill Oil vs Fish Oil
While both fish-oil and krill-oil supplements provide the Omega-3 EFAs known as DHA and EPA, there are differences between the two.
Fish oil comes from fatty fish while krill oil comes from small crustaceans and typically contains more EPA.
Also, they are bound to astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant.
Typically speaking, many authorities feel that krill is superior because the EPA and DHA found in krill oil are phospholipids, which are absorbed faster than the EPA and DHA found in fish oil, which are triglycerides and have to undergo a longer period of digestion.
Some authorities do not believe that krill is better because they feel more research is needed and while that may be true.
When you get down to it, both forms provide the Omega 3’s, but it comes down to absorption.
For us, if we an get better absorption from one product over another, we’ll go with it, all other things being equal.
Let’s be real – any supplement, no matter how good it’s supposed to be, comes down to one key thing – how well is it absorbed?
After all, if it does not absorb well, what’s the point?
However, when it comes to fish oil and krill oil, the jury is still out on which one is better, even if many authorities lean towards krill oil.
That means that, for now, it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference.
Who Benefits From Fish Oil / Krill Oil
Fish oil has become a cornerstone supplement among bodybuilders and other athletes to Mr and Mrs Joe Average.
What are the benefits?
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are essential
nutrients that, generally speaking, support heart health, joint health and cognitive function.
Additionally, bodybuilders and athletes use them because, they speed recovery, help burn body fat, and support testosterone production.
It goes without saying that with benefits like these, the addition of a good fish or krill oil to anyone’s program can help improve overall good health and well-being.
While the side effects of taking a fish oil supplement are minor, they do exist: bad breath, belching (the “fish burps”), heartburn and mild nausea.
These are effects that can be reduced by talking your fish oil with a meal.
How To Take Fish Oil / Krill Oil
As mentioned above, the best way to take a fish or krill oil supplement is with a meal, preferably one that contains some fats.
The best time is early in the day with a optional second dose at dinnertime.
Top 10 Benefits of Omega 3 Supplements
1. Cardiovascular Health
One of the most well-known benefits of taking omega 3 supplements like fish or krill oil is the positive effect they can have on cardiovascular health.
In fact, clinical studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega 3 EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) can help prevent and reverse numerous cardiovascular diseases. (1)
Additionally, for people that have suffered a heart attack, it has been shown that the omega 3’s have improved survival rates and overall quality of life. (2)
For many people, dealing with the pain of arthritis is a major problem. EFAs from fish oil or krill oil can help and there’s clinical studies that back up their effectiveness.
One study was conducted for 18-months and compared the effects of fish oil and borage seed oil as a treatment for test subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.
There were three groups (one taking fish oil, one taking borage oil and one taking both), at the end of the study it was shown that all three groups experienced “significant reductions” in their symptoms, and all three remedies worked the same.(3)
In another study, it was shown that omega-3 fish oil supplements work as good as NSAIDs in reducing the pain of arthritis. (4)
This is good news for people that do not want to rely on drugs and prefer a natural approach.
3. Cognitive Benefits
Most people have heard of the importance of fish oil for brain health, in fact the omega’s are often included in cognitive enhancement or brain health formulas.
As you can see from these studies, if you want to be at your best mentally, taking a fish or krill oil supplement is the way to go.
Piggy-backing off of the cognitive benefits, many in the medical profession think that a lack of omega’s is at least partially the reason children (and some adults) suffer from ADHD.
This is one reason you will see DHA, one of the omega 3s, often included in various infant formulas.
Studies have shown that in children ranging from 6 to 12 years old, adding in an omega 3 supplement can make a difference in areas such as aggressiveness, restlessness, ability to complete work and overall academic performance (7).
These types of studies support the idea that some behavioral issues can be linked to poor eating habits as children and as an adult.
For people with diabetes, following a well thought out diabetic diet plan is essential.
Studies have shown that consuming fish oil can help diabetics and that fish oil sources should make up part of their diet.
In a study that was published in Brain Research, it was found that fish oil can support cognitive function in diabetics by preventing the hippocampus cells from being destroyed, as well as lowering oxidative stress. (8)
6. Eye Health
You might not think of fish oil or krill oil when you think of supplements that are good for your eyes, but recent studies have shown that they can help reverse age-related eye disorders.
In a 2014 study conducted by French researchers, 290 patients with age-related macular degeneration were discovered to have a low intake of dietary fish and seafood.
Based on this, it was determined that fish oil (and krill oil) could help those individuals with a high risk for age-related macular degeneration. (9)
It’s also believed that the EFAs in fish and krill oil can help the eyes drain properly.
This is important because it helps lower pressure on the eye as well as prevent glaucoma.
7. Immune System Health
As important as good immune system health is, it’s good to know that your daily serving of fish or krill oil supports overall immune system health and function.
In one study conducted on animals, it was determined that astaxanthin, the antioxidant found in krill oil, promotes the effectiveness of krill oil (or when combined with fish oil).
The researchers concluded that the study can apply to humans and that it reinforces the health-promoting effects of krill and fish oil. (10)
8. Fat Loss Support
Helping you lose fat is not something you would think fish or krill oil could do, right?
Well, the fact is, it can.
In a clinical study that was American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, Australian researchers demonstrated that a combination of fish oil supplements and regular exercise can help decrease body fat while at the same time improving metabolic efficiency.
Additionally, test subjects using fish oil had lower triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol and improved blood flow. (11)
9. Healthy Skin
Fish oil and krill oil promotes healthy skin because the fat in fish or krill oil improves skin texture.
Additionally, fish or krill oil can help slow the typical signs of aging, such as lines and wrinkles. (12)
10. Skin Conditions
The EFAs in fish and krill oil not only improve skin appearance, they can help relieve skin problems such as acne.
In a 12 week study conducted at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, it was determined that 60% of those test subjects taking 3 grams of fish oil per day (this amount contained 930 mg of EPA, one of the EFAs) showed substantial improvement in their skin condition.
Top 10 Fish Oil Supplements
It should come as no surprise that our pick for number one is Krill Oil by Transparent Labs.
Here’s a company that’s always in the top 1-2 on any Top 10 list and for good reason – they use extremely transparent labeling, the best ingredients and at least clinical dosing.
Krill Oil is no exception.
This is a premium quality product using krill sourced from the Antarctic that has a high concentration of the omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), plus phospholipids, choline and astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant.
Krill Oil comes in a 60 softgel size bottle and with 2 softgels per serving, it’s priced at the higher end, but you are paying for premium quality.
You won’t find a better fish oil/krill oil product!
Controlled Labs is a big name in the industry that’s recently been on a roll with several very good new products.
Of course, they’re well known for hardcore bodybuilding products but, they take general good health very seriously and make several products (the Orange series) that reflect that kind of thinking.
Orange Oximega Fish Oil is one of them.
This is a high quality fish oil with a 60% EPA/DHA content along with vitamin E for improved absorption and a 800 mg complex of mixed fatty acids, for a total of 2 grams.
The only downside? You don’t know what the “mixed fatty acids” are or how much you’re getting.
Still, this is an excellent product that uses enteric coated, flavored softgels and is designed to be part of a total good health line of products – what a great idea!
Too many bodybuilders/athletes overlook the less flashy “good health” supplements in favor of the more exotic stuff.
Orange Oximega Fish Oil puts an end to that – and they’re not just for bodybuilders and athletes – anyone can use them!
This is the most unique product on this list because it’s not just a fish oil – it’s a complete EFA (essential fatty acid) product.
In keeping with the hardcore attitude of the “Animal” line, Universal Nutrition markets this for bodybuilders, and other athletes (especially strength athletes) but it can be used by anyone looking for a complete EFA formula.
There are 3 prop blends, which is unfortunately one of the things Universal is known for, but you are getting a 4 gram Omega 3 complex that includes flaxseed as a source as well as various fish oils – but we don’t know how much of each.
We also don’t know the EPA/DHA content.
There’s also an Omega 6 complex that’s non-fish oils, coming from such sources as borage, sunflower, evening primrose and sesamin – but we don’t know how much of each.
Finally, there’s an absorption complex that is, again, a prop blend.
While Universal makes some great products, and the thinking behind Animal Omega sets it apart in the marketplace, what’s with all the prop blends?
Why are they there?
There’s no good reason.
This product is a good idea – tell us how much we’re getting!
Fitting with the Animal line, this comes in a 30 packet size and it’s a decent value – great product idea, good company, but why do we still use prop blends?
When it comes to making high quality products that cover a wide range of nutritional needs, NOW is hard to beat.
After all, they make sports nutrition products, various types of nutritional foods, as well as a huge line of general good-health products.
Ultra Omega 3 is one of those good-health products.
This is a simple, gets-straight-to-the-point type of product with 1 gram of total fish oil per serving breaking down to 500 mg of EPA and 250 mg of DHA – no prop blends, nothing else added, just a simple, fully disclosed formula.
One of the great things about this product and NOW in general is that they go out of their way to list the purity of their formulas – case in point, Ultra Omega 3 has the GMP seal stamped on its website description and on the bottle itself, along with tags for non-GMO and the fact it contains gelatin.
That’s great quality control!
NOW is always a great value – if you’re looking for a no BS product that’s priced right and offers excellent quality, look no further than Ultra Omega 3.
BSN is a name that’s been around forever and they have some serious history as being one of the first companies to market a pre-workout (N.O. Xplode).
Fish Oil DNA is part of a series of products (the DNA Series) that consists of a versatile line of products designed to be stand-alone formulas or stacked with any other product you’re using.
Fish Oil DNA is a simple 1 gram fish oil formula supplying 300 mg of EPA/DHA – but we don’t know the breakdown of each – and just 300mg?
While this seems a little underdosed compared to, say, NOW’s fish oil, it is nonetheless a decent enough product.
Like some of the fish oil supplements here, it also uses enteric coated softgel capsules to control odor.
But the downside is that there’s a lot of fillers in their softgels – good thing there’s also some MCTs.
Fish oil has become a standard supplement for many bodybuilders and athletes, and Fish Oil DNA is marketed for them but this can be used by anyone looking for a decent fish oil at a very good price.
With 100 capsules per bottle, it’s hard to beat!
MusclePharm is one of the biggest names in the business with quite a range of products.
Like many brands, they now have a line of products that could be considered core supplements – they call it the “Essential Series”.
Fish Oil is one of them and, like several of the products on this list, it is a no BS product that gets right to the point with a 1 gram dose of fish oil that provides a solid 700 mg total EFAs (400 mg EPA/300 mg DHA) in a coated, flavored softgel capsule.
The label is simple but it is fully disclosed – you would think for a product like this, no brand would hide their dosages behind a prop blend.
As is the case with some of the other brands, this is a line that is marketed for bodybuilders and athletes but can be used by anyone interested in good health.
Fish Oil comes in either a 90 or 180 size and is an exceptional value, proving that sometimes a simple formula done right is all you need to get the job done!
Fish Oil is a very simple product and most of the formulas on this list are very straightforward.
Sure, some products get more involved than others by including other Omega’s or multiple, non-fish sources, but really, what you look for in a good fish oil is a well-dosed product without a lot of unnecessary ingredients added to the capsule.
MuscleTech, a giant in the business, is yet another company with a “core” or “essential” line, with Fish Oil being one of them.
Compared to several of the other choices on this list, this seems underdosed for the same 1 gram serving of fish oil – here we get just 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA, but compare that to, say, MusclePharm with more than twice the EFAs for the same 1 gram dose and the same 1 softgel serving size.
This is a good value with a well priced 100 count size, but let’s be real, you want a well dosed product, even when you’re buying something as basic as fish oil.
Here we have Optimum Nutrition, probably the world leader in protein powders and beyond any doubt one of the most trusted brands in the business – and they give us a 1 gram fish oil with an underdosed prop blend!
All we see on this label is 300 mg total Omega 3 EFAs – that’s it!
No EPA/DHA breakdown, nothing.
It is an enteric coated tablet, but the irony here is that the ads for this product touts Optimum’s dedication to quality, history, brand strength etc.
It’s a good thing it’s a good value with a 100 and 200 count size – however, they made it this high on the list more for the strength of their name then for the strength of their product.
NutriGold is a fairly unknown name next to the big boys on this list, but Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega 3 Gold is a great looking product that, if you look, ranks high on any Top 10 fish oil list.
This is a well dosed product with a fully disclosed label, and it’s one of the very few products that highlights the certifications for their fish oil right on the label – plus the softgel itself is certified kosher and halal.
Not to mention, hardly anything goes into the making of the softgel!
This formula provides a solid 2100 mg EFAs per 2 softgels, and if you break that down to 1 softgel, it’s still stronger than most of the products in our Top 10.
In terms of quality, this product could easily have been much higher on our list, but one drawback is that you are paying a high price for the label and quality – to the tune of twice as much for just 60 softgels – that’s a big difference!
Quality is great, of course, but should be within reach – after all, what good is it if it’s too expensive?
Bulk Supplements is exactly what the name suggests, supplements of all types in bulk.
Imagine, you can get 100 softgels, 300 softgels or, wait for it, 10,000 softgels – that’s not a typo, that really is 10,000!
In this case, it’s not a 1 gram fish oil but a 1 gram krill oil, however, it’s also a 2 softgel serving size.
There’s less total EPA and DHA in Pure Krill Oil, but the advantage is that the EFAs in krill oil are supposed to be better absorbed, which means your body can get as much benefit out of a lower dose.
Krill oil also contains phospholipids, here it’s 200 mg, and astaxanthin (400 mcg), which acts as an antioxidant.
There’s no fillers in the softgels either, making this a high quality product.
Overall, then, we have a premium product that’s also a great value and available in some very exclusive sizes.