The Best Fish Oil

Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil

Our Top Pick for 2016: Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $44.97*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Fish oil supplements are more popular than ever. Most people who take nutrition seriously know that they should have some omega 3 fatty acids in their diet. They also know that they probably will not get enough from their diet alone unless they consume large amounts of fish. Clinical research suggests that a diet that is rich in fish oil can provide omega 3s and help to improve the health of your brain and heart; however, there are still questions about which fish oil supplements are the best and how much fish oil people need to consume. Tests of the top brands have found that all fish oils are not created equal. In fact, there is a significant variation in the quality of the ingredients as well as in the purity. Furthermore, false claims are common as unscrupulous companies seek to profit from the public’s desire for good health. According to one study, higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids correlated with better brain preservation in older women when compared to women with lower omega 3 levels. Those results suggest that omega 3s may be beneficial for delaying dementia and cognitive aging. Omega 3s have also been shown to lower the risk of arrhythmia, decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure. Below are reviews of the four fish oils that we recommend.

Table of contents

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No Artificial Colors
2,000mg Fish Oil
1,000mg Fish Oil
No Artificial Flavors
1,400mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids
300mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids
No Yeast, Starch or Gluten
600mg DHA, 800mg EPA
Enteric Coated
240mg EPA, 80mg DHA
Third Party Tested
Long-Chain EPA & DHA Oils
Purified
Enteric Coated
Easier-To-Swallow

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil

Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $44.97*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerAccording to the Dr Tobias website, the company has over 30 years of experience and conducts continuous improvement auditing. The Dr Tobias behind the brand is Dr Tobias Ihde who studied Sport Science and Medicine in Germany. His own childhood obesity along with his sports and medicine research led him to a focus on the promotion of health via nutrition, with an emphasis on supplements like his Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil. The Dr Tobias website links to the products on Amazon.

This product has been listed by USA Today as one of the “highest quality” fish oil supplements and delivers more than three times the Omega 3 of many other fish oil brands. According to the company’s listing on Amazon.com, DTOO3FO supports heart and brain health. It also provides benefits for your joints, mood and skin. It is tested by a third party for purity, efficacy and the safety of the ingredients among other factors. Each bottle provides you with 180 capsules, which is a 90-day supply. When you purchase DTOO3FO, you will get free access to 25 online videos that show you exercises that can be beneficial for your health and provide relief from stress. While the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in this fish oil is not disclosed, DTOO3FO does contain 15 percent more eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than is claimed on the label. It contains 920mg of EPA.

Factors to Consider Before Buying this Fish Oil

Nutrition

According to Labdoor.com, one serving of DTOO3FO provides you with 1690mg of omega 3 which exceeds the 1.1g to 1.6g range recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for people over age 14. This fish oil contains 920 EPA and 600mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Each capsule contains 2,000mg of fish oil with a serving size of two capsules. This means that a single serving of DTO3FO provides you with the 2g minimum daily amount that is recommended by most nutritional experts.

Aftertaste

These fish oil capsules have an enteric coating that aids in absorption of the omega 3s and that help to prevent the fishy aftertaste. The coating on DTOO3FO is a polymer barrier that keeps the capsule from breaking down in the stomach. Instead, it is broken down in the small intestines where the fatty acids in the fish oil are absorbed.

Purity

DTOO3FO is purified using molecular distillation, which is a method that can remove heavy metals and other toxins thus making the product safe for you to consume. Labdoor.com states that the mercury content in DTOO3FO is 2 PPB, which is below the 2.4 PPB average for fish oil supplements. It is also well below the 100 PPB limit set by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3 (GOED). Its total polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) content is less than 0.01 PPM and that is far below the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2 PPM limit.

Effectiveness

Most of the fish oil in DTOO3FO (87 percent) consists of omega 3 fatty acids. It is therefore expected to be highly effective based on the amount recommended by nutritional experts and researchers. Users of DTOO3FO have found it effective for helping to prevent anxiety attacks, decreasing back pain along with lowering triglyceride levels.

Pros and Cons of Dr. Tobias Fish Oil

Pros

• One serving provides 2g of fish oil with 1.6g (according to labdoor.com measurements) of omega 3 fatty acids, which exceeds the amount recommended by the IOM and the World Health Organization.

• It has an enteric coating that not only improves absorption, it also helps to avoid fish burps.

• You are able to get IOM’s daily recommended intake amount by taking two capsules of the fish oil.

Cons

• There is very little information about this product or any of the company’s other products on the company’s website.

• More than one reviewer on Amazon.com reports receiving bottles with broken pills.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Kirkland Signature Fish Oil

Kirkland Signature Fish Oil

View it on Amazon for $5.21*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Kirkland Signature brand has been around for almost 20 years and is the Costco chain’s line of private-label goods. According to Costco, about 20 percent of the products they offer fall under the Kirkland Signature brand. They also state that all of the brand’s vitamins and minerals (including KSFO) are made with ingredients that are carefully selected and purchased from suppliers that they trust. The company’s rule for their buyers is that all of their products must be as good as their national counterparts or better.

On their website, Costco states that KSFO comes from deep ocean fish including anchovies and sardines, not farm-raised fish. It contains no artificial colors or flavors and no yeast, gluten or starch. Additionally, United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verifies this fish oil. The USP organization is a non-profit that sets quality and purity standards for nutritional supplements. The KSFO brand is the one used by Men’s Health nutrition advisor, Alan Aragon who endorsed it on Prevention.com. According to Prevention.com, KSFO contains the type of omega 3s that the body can readily absorb.

Factors to Consider Before Buying this Fish Oil

Nutrition

With a single serving of KSFO, you get a total of 380mg omega 3 fatty acids, which is more than the amount claimed on the label. It is also below the IOM’s daily intake range of 1.1g to 1.6g for individuals over 14. It contains 240mg EPA and 80mg DHA, which is above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) minimum of 0.3g. About a third of this fish oil (33 percent) is DHA and EPA.

Aftertaste

Many users report that they have no fishy aftertaste when using KSFO, while others experience fish burps and the associated aftertaste. According to Costco, the product is enteric coated to aid in absorption.

Purity

This fish oil’s Amazon listing states that it is made using a molecular distillation process. The mercury content in KSFO measures at 1 PPB which is below the below the 2.4 PPB average for the category and thus below the 100 PPB limit as well. The total PCB content is measured at below 0.01 making it far below the FDA’s 2 PPM limit for fish and shellfish. Along with that, it is below California’s strict Proposition 65 standards that require products with more than 0.09 PPM to carry a cancer warning.

Effectiveness

This product’s fish oil is 39 percent omega 3 fatty acids. The Omega 3 has 240mg of EPA and 80mg of DHA. Its effects are expected to be moderate based on the recommended daily intake of 1g.

Pros and Cons of KSFO

Pros

• The fact that smaller fish are used to produce this fish oil means that the risk of exposure to high doses of mercury and PCBs is reduced.

• Using wild-caught fish instead of farm-raised fish means that the fish have more omega 3 fatty acids. The use of antibiotics and other products may lessen the quality of the omega 3s in farm-raised fish.

• Users have found KSFO to be effective for lowering triglycerides and blood pressure.

• Each bottle contains 400 1000mg softgels.

Cons

• Even though these softgels are enteric-coated, this product is not advertised as “burpless.” Some users do complain about a fishy aftertaste.

• In order to meet the IOM’s daily intake minimum, it will be necessary to take three of these capsules daily.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Optimum Nutrition Enteric Coated Fish Oil

Optimum Nutrition Enteric Coated Fish Oil

View it on Amazon for $13.02*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardFounded in 1987, Optimum Nutrition is a subsidiary of Glanbia. Glanbia is a leading manufacturer of cheese and nutritional ingredients. Optimal Nutrition, Inc. is the only company to manufacture items in every nutritional supplement category. They make their products in their own production facilities . As a result, the company is able to control the quality of its products in-house. On their website, they state that they exercise strenuous quality control and their Quality Assurance technicians are known to reject whole truckloads of raw materials for not meeting the Optimum nutrition’s standards. On the company’s Facebook page, they state they strive to produce affordable, premium-quality products while striving to meet the needs of a dynamic market. The company has won various Bodybuilding.com supplement awards including Protein Powder of the year and Energy drink of the Year.

According to the product label ONFO contains 1g of oil from anchovy, mackerel and sardine. Other ingredients include gelatin vanillin (added to the enteric coating to make it easier to swallow) and oleic acid. Labdoor found that its omega 3 acid content was 320mg per serving which put it at 6.67 percent above the claim on the label.

Factors to Consider before Buying this Fish Oil

Nutrition

Each serving of ONFO provides 320mg of omega 3 fatty acids. This amount is less than the IOM’s 1.1g minimum for those over age 14. Its omega 3 content consists of 160mg EPA and 120mg DHA. This fish oil consists of 28 percent EPA and DHA.

Aftertaste

These fish oil softgels are enteric-coated to make them easy to swallow. The Optimum Nutrition website also states that they will not cause the fishy aftertaste that would otherwise result if they were not coated.

Purity

The mercury in ONFO was measure at 2 PPB, which is below the average for the category which is 2.4. It is far below the GOED’s 100 PPB limit. It contains less than 0.01 PPM of PCBs which means that it is below the FDA’s 2 PPM limit for fish and shellfish and below the 0.09 PPM limit set by California’s Proposition 65.

Effectiveness

This fish oil’s 320mg of omega 3 fatty acids is projected to be very effective based on the recommended daily intake amount of 1g.

Pros and Cons of ONFO

Pros

• Users have reported lower blood pressure when taking ONFO as well as healed psoriasis and improved joint health.

• The enteric coating helps to prevent fish burps and makes the softgels easy to swallow.

• Optimum Nutrition is a popular and widely recognized manufacturer of nutritional supplements.

Cons

• Some users have issues with the size of the pills.

• The product is not well documented on the Optimum Nutrition Website.

• You will have to take three servings to meet the IOM’s minimum daily intake.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Nature Made Burp-Less Fish Oil

Nature Made Burp-Less Fish Oil

View it on Amazon for $7.59*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe brand is owned by Pharmavite LLC, which has been around for over 30 years. They make and distribute nutritional supplements, vitamins and other products under the Nature Made brand and under the SOYJOY brand. They state that the starting point for all of their products lies in scientific research and that they only offer nutritional supplements that their scientists consider safe and beneficial to consumers. The company further states that they stay on top of emerging science but do not chase fads. Aside from a handful of products that are made by other companies, Nature Made products are made at the company’s Southern California facilities.

According to the Nature Made website, this fish oil is made to meet their high standards for quality and with ingredients that have been carefully selected. The fish from which the oil comes are deep ocean fish, not farm-raised fish. In addition, NMBLFO has no color or artificial flavors added and no preservatives or gluten. According to a survey by US News & World Report and Pharmacy Times, NMBFLO is the number one pharmacist recommended brand of omega 3s and fish oils. Each bottle of this fish oil contains 150 softgels. NMBFLO’s ingredients include gelatin and soy along with the fish oil.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Nature Made Fish Oil

Nutrition

According to Naturemade.com, NMBLFO provides 1,000mg of fish oil per serving with one serving consisting of two softgels. Each serving provides 600mg of omega 3 fatty acids, which is below the range set by the IOM. This fish oil contains 500mg of EPA and DHA, which is the maximum amount that the WHO recommends.

Aftertaste

These softgels have an enteric coating that can help to keep you from experiencing a fishy smell and aftertaste.

Purity

Nature Made states that they use the most modern purification methods for the removal of PCBs, mercury and other toxic compounds. The total mercury content in NMBFLO is 0.1 PPM, which is right at GOED’s 100 PPB limit. The total PCB content is 0.9 PPM, which is well below the FDA’s 2 PPM limit.

Effectiveness

The 600mg of omega 3 acids in this product means that is should be highly effective based on a recommended daily intake of 1g.

Pros and Cons of NMBFLO

Pros

• This product gets 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com with 430 positive reviews. Of those positive reviews, 370 were 5-star reviews.

• Multiple user’s praise NMBFLO’s enteric coating as being effective for preventing fish burps and fishy aftertaste.

Cons

• Some customers find that NMBFLO softgels are too big.

• It will be necessary to take multiple servings to get your daily minimum of omega 3s.


Pre-purchase considerations

Nutritional Value/Potency

This is the most important factor when choosing a fish oil and should be your priority when evaluating the different brands. Look for fish oils with high DHA and EPA content. Remember the main reason that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you is the EPA and DHA content. These fatty acids are essential for fish oil to have its anti-inflammatory effect. DHA is especially valuable for providing cognitive benefits including brain development and the prevention of dementia. Your diet probably does not have enough EPA and DHA unless it contains a lot of fish, seaweed or meat from grass-fed animals. While it is best to get your fatty acids from eating whole fish, a supplement may be necessary to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount. This is especially so if you do not enjoy eating fish or the kinds of fish that are rich in omega 3s.

Aftertaste

The few side effects of fish oil include fish burps, fish breath and gas and are important when comparing fish oils. These issues are why some people are reluctant to take fish oil supplements. If you are worried about the aftertaste associated with some softgels, consider looking for ones that have an enteric coating. Studies have shown enteric-coated softgels to be more effective than softgels without the coating. Ordinarily, fish oil would be digested in the stomach but this is what causes the side effects. The enteric coating helps to keep them from dissolving in the stomach. Instead, they dissolve in the small intestines. Enteric coatings may be made of waxes, fatty acids or synthetic compounds and may have a hazy or solid color on the surface.

Purity

Due to the level of pollution in the planet’s oceans, there are now more than 200,000 square miles that are considered dead zones. Nothing can live in these areas due to the toxins in the water. Like humans, fish store the toxins that they consume in their fats. This means that consuming fats from contaminated fish can expose you to high levels of mercury and other heavy metals as well as to PCBs. These toxins are in all fish and can cause cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is important to ensure that any fish oil you buy meets international standards for heavy metals (especially mercury) and PCBs.

Projected Effectiveness

While the FDA does not provide a daily recommended allowance for omega 3s, there is a daily recommended intake amount provided by the IOM and you should keep this in mind when evaluating different fish oils. Similarly, there is no recommended daily intake amount for EPA or DHA provided by the FDA but the WHO does provide a recommended amount.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Various dietary supplement categories suffer from lax regulation and the fish oil category is no exception. As a result, fish oils are prone to inaccurate labeling and contamination. Testing of different fish oil brands has shown that the omega 3 content can vary by as much as 24 percent when compared to the amount on the label. Fortunately for consumers, there are multiple independent labs that conduct audits of the omega 3 content in fish oil supplements as well as their purity. It is a good idea to select only the products that pass the test of purity and that are true to the claims made on their labels.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. https://labdoor.com/report/dr-tobias-optimum-omega-3-fish-oil
  2. https://labdoor.com/report/kirkland-signature-omega-3-fish-oil-concentrate
  3. https://labdoor.com/review/optimum-nutrition-fish-oil
  4. http://www.naturemade.com/fish-oil-and-omegas/fish-oil-and-omega-3/fish-oil-1000-mg-burp-less#yi4gHZCky2g6WOtk.97
  5. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/01/fish-oil-pills-vs-claims/index.htm
  6. http://www.costco.com/Nature-Made%C2%AE-Fish-Oil-1200-mg,-400-Softgels.product.11751262.html
  7. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/natural-remedies/new-study-questions-omega-3-supplements-heart-health-benefit
  8. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/01/fish-oil-heart-brain-health/4972393/
  9. http://www.naturemade.com/about-nature-made#WF1i5YdcZMtZRJQK.97
  10. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/02/04/how-to-choose-a-fish-oil-supplement
  11. https://www.facebook.com/optimumnutrition/info/?tab=page_info#
  12. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199606133342401

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