Fish Oil Vs Omega-3: Which is the Best Supplement?
With so many different kinds of fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids and cod liver oils on the market, it's hard to make a decision as to what to take. It's even hard to know which one would be the best for your health.
We've taken some time to look into what fish oil does for you, what omega-3 fatty acids are and how they can benefit you, and which supplement is best for you to choose for your body and your health.
To find out all you can about fish oil, omega-3, and anything else you want to know, why not check out our article now.
What are fish oil supplements?
Let's begin with fish oil supplements.
Fish oil supplements are derived from many kinds of fish but what makes them so good for your health is that the oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The oil is high in two omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All of the benefits of fish oil supplements come from these omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil supplements are great for those who are on restricted diets and those who do not eat a lot of fish. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are better for you than those found in other sources, like plant sources.
To find out about the benefits of taking fish oil supplements, keep reading the next section.
Why should I be taking fish oil supplements?
The benefits of fish oil supplements are pretty endless. We've summarised just a few of them below for you to peruse. Check them out.
- Supports heart health - Fish oil supplements are great for heart health. They can increase good cholesterol levels, though it doesn't decrease bad cholesterol. It also lowers triglycerides and can reduce blood pressure in people with elevated levels. Fish oil can also prevent plaque build-up, this plaque build-up can cause arteries to harden. Finally, fish oil may help to reduce fatal arrhythmias.
- Mental health - The brain is made up of 60% fat which means that omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for good brain function. Indeed, supplementing with fish oil could actually reduce the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- May aid weight loss - Along with a good diet, there is evidence that supplementing with fish oil could aid in weight loss. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Could support eye health - Lack of omega-3 can lead to a greater risk of eye diseases and so keeping your levels up through fish oil supplementation is a great idea.
- May reduce inflammation - Chronic inflammation is associated with a wide range of serious illnesses, illnesses that include obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Reducing inflammation may reduce the symptoms of these diseases. It can also reduce joint pain and illnesses that this is a symptom of.
- May support healthy skin - Supplementing with fish oil can be great for your skin and can keep the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis at bay.
- Could reduce liver fat - Fish oil supplements can improve liver function and inflammation which can help to reduce the amount of fat in your liver. It can also reduce the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Improves symptoms of depression - EPA is thought to improve the symptoms of depression.
There are quite a few other benefits of supplementing with fish oil, these are just a few of them. Choosing to supplement with fish oil can boost your overall health and provide targeted relief when needed.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
And now for omega-3 fatty acids supplements. What are they? And how are they different to fish oils?
Omega-3 fatty acids come in a few different forms, along with EPAs and DHAs, there are also plant-derived ALAs. Omega-3 supplements also come in a few different varieties. The most common way of getting omega-3 fatty acids is through fish oil, but there are other ways.
When choosing omega-3 supplements, you should look out for a few of the following to make sure you are choosing the supplements with the best and highest number of omega-3s.
- Types of omega-3 - There are many supplements that contain omega-3s but you need to check that these omega-3s are EPAs and DHAs.
- Amounts of omega-3 - Check the levels of EPA and DHA in your supplement.
- Forms of omega-3 - Check that the omega-3s are the right forms. Look out for FFA (free fatty acids), TG or rTG (triglycerides or reformed triglycerides), and PLs (phospholipids), rather than EEs (ethyl esters).
- Certification - Check what you're buying is pure and authentic. Look for the GOED standard of purity.
- Freshness - Make sure the supplements are in date.
- Sustainability - Ensure that the supplements you're buying are derived from sustainable sources. Look out for certifications like MSC or Environmental Defense Fund.
For omega-3s, standard fish oil is usually enough for most people's omega-3 intake, but you can get omega-3 supplements that offer higher doses of fatty acids. With regular fish oil usually only containing around 30% EPA and DHA, sometimes a higher dose is needed.
You can find omega-3 prescription tablets. These are usually prescribed to adults who have high triglyceride levels and come under brand names like Lovaza, Omtyrg, and Vascepa. These drugs, unlike fish oil, are monitored and approved by authorities like the FDA to check that dosages and forms are healthy and good for human consumption.
Best supplements: Omega-3, fish oil etc.
So, we know what fish oil is and we know what omega-3 supplements can look like - now it's time to work out which is best.
Fish oil is produced by fish in their tissues but omega-3s aren't produced naturally by fish. Like us, they need to get the fatty acids from their diets. Omega-3 fatty acids occur as triglycerides in nature, which are easy to break down. Some manufacturers choose to convert omega-3 fatty acids into ethyl esters. This increase the abundance of fatty acids but is more difficult to absorb by the body, which is why you need to look out for these in your supplementation.
When it comes to fish oil supplements and omega-3 supplements, there is quite a lot of overlap. While all fish oil supplements can provide omega-3 fatty acids, all omega-3 fatty acids are not derived from fish oil. Indeed, while it is considered best to get your omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil so that you're consuming EPAs and DHAs, there are other sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed contains a form of omega-3 fatty acids which are ALAs. While ALAs are still good for your body, they're not as good as the omega-3 fatty acids you will get from taking fish oil supplements. Another source of omega-3 fatty acids is algae. The omega-3 you get from taking fish oil supplements comes from the algae that the fish eat and so taking supplements with this kind of omega-3 in them is effectively cutting out the middle man.
A fish oil supplement is a good option for anyone who does not eat two portions of fish a week. This covers those with allergies to fish, those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, and anyone else who does not eat enough fish. Consuming fish oil supplements can ensure that you up your omega-3 fatty acids intake and reap all of the benefits of it.
Another option for those who cannot get their omega-3 from fatty fish is flaxseed. While EPAs and DHAs are still considered the best kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, ALAs can still provide the body with lots of health benefits.
Overall, it is quite difficult to choose which is the best kind of supplement as so many of the benefits overlap. Getting your omega-3 fatty acids from supplements is not a one size fits all choice. For people who cannot consume fish oils, fatty fish or oily fish, a fish oil supplement is not an option. In some cases, more omega-3 fatty acids are needed by the body than can be provided by fish oils too, meaning a prescribed omega-3 supplement is needed.
The answer really is down to you and your needs. Choosing a supplement is a personal decision and so choosing the best source of omega-3 fatty acids is really down to what you and your body needs.
A note on cod liver oil
When looking at fish oil supplements, it is inevitable that you will come across cod liver oil supplements, indeed, it is usually people's first thought when the word fish oil is spoken. While cod liver oil is fish oil, it is a specific kind of fish oil.
Cod liver oil is a great source of EPAs and DHAs and so it is a great choice for getting omega-3 fatty acids. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, cod liver oil can offer the body vitamin A and vitamin D. Taking cod liver oil is a great option for those looking to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and up their vitamin intake. The benefits of taking cod liver oil are:
- It lowers inflammation in the body
- It is thought to reduce the pain caused by conditions like arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties
- It can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- It can improve brain function and contributes to healthy eyesight
- It maintains bone density
- It can lower the risk of type 1 diabetes when used in pregnancy
- It supports a healthy immune system
- It may help to prevent upper respiratory illnesses
- It is frequently used to lower triglyceride levels in the blood
- It can be used to lower blood pressure
- It may slightly increase levels of HDLs in the blood, also known as the good kind of cholesterol
- It can prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries that can cause your arteries to harden
Cod liver oil supplements are a great option for those looking to boost their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. For more on products to boost your omega-3 intake, check out our list of the best fish oil, omega-3, and cod liver oil supplements below now and find a product to start trying today.
Best supplement products for you to try
So, we've given you as much detail as possible about why boosting your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is a great idea for your overall health, and we've explained the difference between a fish oil supplement and an omega-3 supplement. Now we're going to look at the best products you can try to supplement your omega-3 fatty acids intake. Check out all of our favourite products below.
Herbs of Gold Fish Oil 1000
This fish oil supplement from Herbs of Gold offers 1000mg of natural fish oil, containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA. This is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and can help you to boost your intake.
These supplements can help with dry skin and skin conditions, boost heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help reduce the joint inflammation that is associated with arthritis.
Price: $31.45 - $47.95
Size: 200 capsules and 400 capsules
Melrose Fish Oil (Heart and Health) 500ml
This fish oil supplement from Melrose is designed to help balance out the omega-6 fatty acids that we often find in modern foods that are not as good for our health, with the incredibly healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The fish oil in this supplement is sustainably derived and can help to maintain healthy blood fats, boost heart health and nurture good overall health. Each dose is 5ml.
Size: 500ml, each dose is 5ml
Blooms Odourless Natural Fish Oil (1000mg)
These odourless fish oil supplements from Blooms are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids to add to your diet. Each capsule contains 300mg of omega-3 fatty acids (EPAs and DHAs). Dosage is three capsules each day.
These supplements can help support healthy skin and eyes, are thought to help with headache relief and can support a healthy cardiovascular system as well as your overall health.
Price: $18.45 - $32.30
Size: 200 capsules and 400 capsules
Free Spirit MegaOmega Algae Oil Omega-3 60c
These algae-derived omega-3 supplements from Free Spirit can offer you a huge dose of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. With up to 700mg of DHAs in these supplements, you'll boost your intake in no time by taking these capsules.
These supplements are vegan-friendly and great for those who cannot consume fish oil. They're also organic meaning you're avoiding any nasty chemical side effects too!
Size: 60 capsules
Herbs of Gold Ultra Omega 3 6 9 200c
These supplements from Herbs of Gold blend lots of different oils, like evening primrose oil, linseed oil, and natural fish oil, to create a healthy balance of omega fatty acids, offering you the perfect dose of omega-3, 6, and 9.
These supplements are known to relieve dry skin, support healthy hair and nails, relieve mild pain from osteoarthritis, help relieve some menopausal symptoms, and assist in the improvement of your general wellbeing.
Size: 200 capsules
LifeStream V-Omega 3 - microalgae oil, 100% Plant DHA, EPA & Vit D3
These micro-algae derived omega-3 supplements from Lifestream can offer a high dosage of omega-3 fatty acids (both EPAs and DHAs) as well as vitamin D3. They are suitable for vegans and may be suitable for those with fish allergies, though you should always check the label.
These supplements can help to nurture your overall health as well as reduce the risk of heart problems and skin problems.
Price: $46.00 - $81.00
Size: 45 capsules and 90 capsules
Untamed Health White Chia Seed Oil 3-6-9 120c
These omega supplements from Untamed are a good source of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 and 9. These are a great option for vegans who are looking to boost the omega fatty acids in their diets.
Size: 120 capsules
Melrose Certified Organic 3-6-7-9 Omega Oil
Another fantastic supplement from Melrose, this omega oil offers a variety of high-quality omega oils to the consumer, helping to boost omega levels in the bloodstream in one quick dose. Even better, the oil is suitable for vegans.
The supplement blends flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, Sachi inchi oil, and macademia oil to create this healthy dose of omegas.
Price: $17.00 - $37.00
Melrose Cod Liver Oil (Health & Vision) 500ml
And finally, another great supplement from Melrose, this cod liver oil supplement comes in a 500ml bottle, perfect for your daily dosage of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. With vitamin D and vitamin A as well as EPAs and DHAs, you get plenty of the good stuff in this bottle.
This supplement can help to reduce inflammation, boost your immunity, and provide antioxidants to your body.
When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, there is no better place to get them than supplementing with fish oil supplements. Though you can find them in fatty and oily fish, most people don't eat enough to get the required omega-3 fatty acids they need daily. Fish oil supplements, along with algae-derived omega-3 supplements, and cod liver oil supplements can all be good options for supplementing your diet.
Omega-3 can help to boost your overall health, balance the massive number of omega-6 fatty acids we consume due to fast modern food, protect your heart health, improve brain function and eye health, and improve skin health as well as many other health benefits. Omega-3 is essential to the body and so getting enough of it is a really good idea!
We've listed a few of our favourite supplements that you can use to get your omega-3 intake, but we offer lots more on our website too. Check it out now to find out more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to take fish oil or omega-3?
Omega-3 is found in all fish oil supplements and so taking fish oil supplements will give you all the omega-3 you need. Unless you have an allergy to fish or follow a diet that doesn't include fish, fish oil is the best place for you to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. If you cannot take fish oil, you could try supplementing with algae-derived omega-3 supplements.
Is omega-3 the same as fish oil?
While all fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, not all omega-3 fatty acids come from fish oil. Indeed, you can get omega-3 from flaxseed as well as algae. While algae-derived omega-3 is the same kind of omega-3 fish consume, the omega-3 in linseed oil is a different and less effective form of omega-3. The best place to get omega-3 is from fatty and oily fish or fish oil supplements.
What is the most effective omega-3 supplement?
The best fish oil supplements depend on your individual needs. While it is advised you get your omega-3 from fish oil supplements, you can also find omega-3 in other places. The omega-3 in fish oil is comprised of two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, EPAs and DHAs. Plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids are ALAs. ALAs are not considered to be as effective as the other two. The most effective omega-3 supplements come from either algae-derived omega-3 or fish oil. You should also avoid ethyl ester omega-3s as they are less easily absorbed by the body.
Can you take omega-3 and fish oil together?
There is no need to take omega-3 and fish oil together as fish oil already contains omega-3. If you need higher doses of omega-3, you may be prescribed an omega-3 tablet by your doctor that is approved by authorities like the FDA to ensure the dosage is high enough. The only benefit from taking fish oil and omega-3 you could find is if the omega-3 you take is plant-derived. By doing this you would be adding ALA omega-3 fatty acids into your diet along with the EPAs and DHAs found in fish oil. Since ALAs are considered to be not as effective as the other two, there isn't really much point in taking them both.