How to Find Tested and True Omega-3s & Fish Oil at the Best Value

Bottle_Fish_Oi_by_John Kasawa
Bottle of Fish Oil (image courtesy of John Kasawa/

Fish oil is currently the most popularly used supplement and one of Consumer Reports, “11 Supplements to Consider.”* Fish oil products usually contain two omega-3 fatty acids, eicopentenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexenoic acid (DHA).  These two fatty acids help blood platelets to be less sticky and therefore, may reduce inflammatory processes in the blood vessels, including vessels of the heart.  And, since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, many folks are turning to fish oil as a preventative measure.

Claims and Purported Use

Fish oil has been shown to be effective for reducing triglyceride levels and likely effective for decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and progression of hardening of the arteries in people with existing heart disease.  Fish oil may alleviate autoimmune diseases and improve both brain function and memory.  One relatively recent study reported that increasing membrane omega-3 fatty acids promotes fat burning in muscles, inhibits fat storage, and enhances insulin sensitivity.  Recent work indicates that omega-3 fats may regulate muscle growth ad help during period of muscle disuse by slowing muscle and bone loss.(1)

The following tested & true products passed independent testing. Here’s a breakdown of the top options based on research.

Pick Your Preference

Spring Valley Fish Oil Softgel – a moderately concentrated fish oil in the triglyceride form to ensure you’re getting the best absorption.

21st Century Fish Oil Enteric-Coated Softgel –  is for folks who want to avoid the “fish burp” with an enteric coated softgel. These deliver directly to the small intestine instead of the stomach to limit the “fish burp,” which is why they cost a bit more than the softgels mentioned above.

Barlean’s Fresh Catch Fish Oil – Orange Flavor Liquid – is one of the only liquids to be tested and approved on the market.


Additional options include Krill Oil, Algal Oil (Vegan) and Super Omega-3s

Viva Labs Krill Oil Softgels  – a more concentrated form of omega-3 fatty acids. Although this brand offers the lowest cost per serving among the Krill oils approved by independent testing, it is more expensive than the fish oils.

Naturals Vegan True Non-Fish Omega-3s  – provides omega-3s at the lowest cost among those passing independent testing for safety and efficacy in the vegan class. For vegans, Algal oil is a good source of omega-3s that is assumed to support better absorption.

Life Extension Super Omega-3 Plus EPA/DHA With Sesame Lignans, Olive Extract, Krill and Astaxanthin Softgels – is the loaded omega-3 that contains extra health boosting ingredients at a higher cost. New research findings show that a multi-complex form of Omega-3s may better support your cardiovascular system and your brain.

Selected Potential Side Effects

Fishy aftertaste, upset stomach, nausea, and loose stools.  Very high doses can increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people or increase the chance of bleeding.

Selected Drug Interactions

Might increase the effect of blood-thinning drugs and high blood pressure medications.

Suggested Dosage

No recommended daily intake of EPA or DHA is given in the United States for healthy people, but some countries suggest a 300-500 mg cumulative combination of EPA and DHA.  For people with coronary artery disease (CAD), this recommendation also holds true when looking to reduce risk of coronary events such as heart attacks.  Additional evidence based suggestions include (by condition):

High triglycerides, 465 mg of EPA and 375 mg of DHA

Depression, 1670 mg EPA and 830 mg DHA

Resistance Training, 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per day, twice a day

To decrease risk for developing Retinal Disease, a combination of EPA and DHA of 200 mg per day.

 Reference Guide for Tested and True Dietary Supplements

Tested and True: Fish Oil

Tested and True: Krill Oil

Tested and True: Multivitamins

Tested and True: Vitamin D

Tested and True: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ-10)

Tested and True: Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Tested and True: Probiotics

Tested and True: Muscle Enhancers – Creatine

Tested and True: Muscle Enhancers – Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Tested and True: Nutrition Bars

Tested and True: Nutrition Drinks & Powders

Tested and True: Weight Loss Accelerators and Appetite Controllers

Tested and True: Mood Booster SAM-e

Tested and True: Mood Booster St. Johns’ Wort

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References: *Consumer Reports

(1) Watkins, BA, Hutchins H, Li Y, Seifert MF: The endocannabinoid signaling system: a marriage of PUFA and musculoskeletal health. J Nutr Biochem 2010, 21 (12) :1141-1152.

About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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