We did a deep dive into Omega-3 supplements to identify the best options among dozens of brands. As is the case with all supplements, we found that there is huge variability in the types and quality of products available. Our team spent over 40 hours analyzing all aspects of Omega-3s and our top pick is Sports Research Omega-3 Wild Alaskan Fish Oil. This product hits the right balance of EPA & DHA content and concentration, triglycerides form, the origin of ingredients, and price.
Read more about our research methodology below.
Compared to all the products we researched, Sports Research Omega-3 Wild Alaskan Fish Oil provides the best combination of features we look for in an Omega-3 supplement. The product packs a healthy dose of 1,000mg of highly concentrated EPA & DHA sourced from wild-caught Alaska pollock. It comes in triglycerides form, which improves bioavailability. And at $0.27 per 1,000mg of EPA & DHA, the product is well priced.
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is our premium-priced pick. It has all the characteristics you want from an Omega-3 supplement, starting with a whopping 1,100 of highly concentrated EPA & DHA in triglycerides form. This product has been chosen for use in many clinical studies on the effects of Omega-3s and is the highest-selling brand in the US. At $0.66 per 1,000mg of EPA & DHA, it commands a significant price premium over our top pick.
At nearly half the cost of our top pick, Now Ultra Omega offers a pretty solid option. The lower price implies a less concentrated product, coming at a75% of EPA & DHA content. The other factor that allows for a less expensive supplement is that it comes in ester form rather than triglycerides as is the case with our previous two picks. is a bit lower for this product (around 75%) than our other picks.
Viva Naturals Triple Strength Omega-3 Oil is a very solid product offering a high dose of 1880mg of EPA & DHA delivered in triglycerides form. If you want to max out on your Omega-3 supplementation, this is a great choice. The product also falls on the high end of the range of EPA/DHA ratios we observed at 75/25. We liked the fact that Viva Naturals scores at the top of the list of Labdoor’s fish oil supplement quality study. The product is also reasonably priced at $0.23 per 1000mg of EPA &DHA.
Wiley’s Finest Peak EPA+DHA offers a 1000mg dose of EPA & DHA in ethyl ester form. The fish oil is sourced from wild-caught Alaskan pollock from OmegaAlaska which is owned by the same company that makes this product. The product is a bit pricey at $0.50 per 1,000mg of EPA & DHA, but it ranks quite well in third-party lab tests and has very solid reviews on Amazon.
Our Approach to Analyzing Omega-3s
Omega-3s are one of the most consumed supplements in the US. But choosing the right product is more complex than it seems at first. There are literally hundreds of options and variations from dozens of manufacturers. Since we’re not convinced that judging your fish oil by its packaging is a good strategy to pick an important daily supplement, we set out to better understand the market offering and identify our top choices.
Why we think Omega-3s are worth including in a Longevity Protocol
First off, we like the idea of supplementing with Omega-3s for two basic reasons:
1. We don’t get enough of it from our diets
While salmon, tuna, and sardines (the most common sources of Omega-3 fish oil in our diet) are great, who wants to eat them every day? The reality is that most of us do not eat enough oily fish to satisfy our needs for Omega-3 fatty acids.
2. The potential longevity benefits of Omega-3s are many.
Clinical studies have shown positive impact of Omega-3s in many areas, including:
- Healthier aging: higher blood levels of EPA have been associated with longer life free from cardiovascular, lung and kidney disease, cancer, physical or mental dysfunction
- Heart health: reduction in triglycerides levels, slight increases in HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels, reduction in blood pressure, reduction in homocysteine levels (risk factor for cardiovascular disease)
- Anti-inflammatory effects: increased intake of Omega-3s can help reduce some forms of inflammation
- Anti-cancer benefits: studies have shown a positive effect in the prevention and treatment of some forms of colon and breast cancers
- Building and maintaining muscle tissue: Omega-3 supplementation can help make up 2-3 years of muscle and strength loss associated with normal aging
- Reduction in incidence of age-related eye disease, particularly macular degeneration
It’s worth mentioning that there have been many a clinical study that has proven to be inconclusive on the benefits of supplementation with omega-3s. In an ideal world we would like to come up with a weighting of studies by area of application that could show us the preponderance of supportive vs. inconclusive or negative results (a Pubmed search of “Omega-3s” returns more than 16,000 results from the last 10 years alone). But that will be a project for the future.
On balance, we feel we have seen enough strong supporting evidence in the science to reasonably conclude that supplementing with fish oils is beneficial. Moreover, we see plenty of convergence around this point among all the longevity experts we follow.
The sheer breadth of options available is the first thing that jumped out as we started our research. There are dozens and dozens of brands to choose from. And they range widely, not only on content, EPA & DHA concentration, and dosage but perhaps most starkly, in price. Just in the latter dimension, the ranges we observed went from $0.19 per dose to over $1.00 per dose for comparable products!
Not all products are what they claim to be
Across products, we found inconsistencies in the labeling and relatively little disclosure on the origins of their fish oil contents. In fact, a study of the 48 most widely sold Omega-3 products in the US found two stark results:
- 48% of the products contained less than the EPA + DHA amount declared in their labels;
- nearly half of the products tested for oxidative stability (level of “freshness”) did not meet at least one of the quality parameters.
This research was commissioned by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, an industry trade group. The conclusion of the study was to suggest that there is “room for improvement in the quality of EPA/DHA finished products in the U.S.” All the more reason to choose carefully.
After scanning hundreds of products, we narrowed the field to 40. For this group, we gathered as much available data as we could. This included a detailed analysis of ingredients, source of oils, company background, pricing, lab test results, Amazon customer feedback, etc.
For ease of comparison, we then used the data to map the products relative to each other along different dimensions. For simplicity, we focused on products in pill form and excluded vegetarian options (we believe these merit a separate analysis).
Given the big spread in price observed, we decided to classify the products into three categories: mid-price, budget, and premium. We then chose our top pick from each one.
What to look for in an Omega-3 supplement
Not all fish oil supplements are created equal In fact, they vary widely in content, delivery form, dosage and sources. So, to guide our search we first set out to determine what makes a good fish oil and narrowed it down to these criteria:
Total concentration of EPA & DHA
The amount of EPA & DHA in fish oil supplements spans a large range based on the source and method of processing. The products we analyzed varied between 25% to over 90% in total EPA & DHA concentration. To maximize the benefit of supplementing with fish oil, we think you should go for the products with the highest concentration.
Triglycerides over ethyl esters
The process of extracting and purifying EPA & DHA from fish oils involves the conversion of the oil in its natural triglyceride form into ethyl esters that can be purified and concentrated. Some products come in this ester form, while others add a step to reconvert them back into triglycerides. The key difference is in their absorbability. We found several references that pointed to the fact that EPA & DHA delivered in triglyceride form can be up to 76% more absorbable.
The products we analyzed ranged from 45% to 80% in EPA concentration vs. DHA. Most of the clinical research we looked at was focused on the benefits of EPA and the few FDA approved drugs in the markets consist primarily of EPA. Having said all that, DHA has been shown to have its own set of benefits. So we think it is best to pick a product that leans towards EPA (65-75%) but provides DHA as well.
The dosage amounts we found in the products we analyzed varied widely (from 100gms to over 2000gms). The National Academy of Science has established that the adequate intake of omega-3s for adults is 1.1gms for women 1.6 gms for men. Most of the clinical studies we analyzed used dosages ranging from 1gm to 6gm daily (some used as much as 25gms!). We haven’t come across evidence of any negative effects of taking Omega-3s at these levels.
To make the prices of the products comparable, we normalized their costs per 1000mg of EPA & DHA delivered. The products we analyzed fluctuated wildly on this basis, from as low $0.09 to over $1.00 per 1000mg of EPA & DHA.
Most products use a combination of sardines, anchovy and mackerel as the source of their fish oils. However, few of them provide any real detail on where their fish is being sourced. We believe ingredient traceability is important, so we tended to look more favorably upon those products that divulged where they source and process their oil.
Omega-3s are inherently sensitive to oxidation which leads to rancidity. That’s why it is important to know that proper manufacturing, handling, formulation and storage processes are followed. We paid particular attention to lab test results measuring oxidation levels by product. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a known difficulty in properly measuring oxidation in flavored products.
We’ve come across some concerns that fish oil may contain high levels of mercury. As a result some folks recommend products based on smaller fish that are lower down on the food chain. However, none of the lab tests we looked at revealed any product with high mercury contents. In fact, there might be more risk of mercury in fish meat than in purified fish oil.
Sourcing our universe of products to analyze
We pulled products from many different sources, some as broad as Google search results to as specific as the results of a lab analysis of the top 48 selling Omega-3s brands in the US. We also gave weight to product mentions by longevity experts like Peter Attia and Rhonda Patrick. Those tend to pop up in the podcasts we listen to.
After filtering through over 100 products we defined a universe of 40 for which we collected additional data, starting with their EPA & DHA contents, forms of delivery (esters vs TG), ingredients, source of fish oils, and manufacturing company. We collected pricing information and normalized it across the group based on the cost per 1000gm of EPA & DHA. This gave us a basis to make direct comparisons.
We also compared the data of published reports from lab tests as well as paid attention to other signals such as Amazon rankings and ratings distribution. In short, we tried to collect as much data on the products as possible to have as nuanced an understanding of the universe we picked.
We applied the criteria we outlined above across all 40 products and mapped them in a way that allowed us to rank products along different variables. Rather than forcing a ranking through an algorithm we used our data map to compare and contrast different products, ultimately making a judgment call on the balance of the evidence. To neutralize cost from the filtering process we tried to pick our favorites by pricing category, which we divided into three groups: mid-price, premium, and budget. While the most inexpensive products tended to be esters (a good number do not disclose the form of delivery) other dimensions of the products were comparable by controlling for price.
Our Top Pick
This product hit all the high notes for us. We like the not-too little not too large dose of 1000mg EPA & DHA. The product is highly concentrated and comes in triglycerides form, which improves bioavailability. In particular, we liked its unique transparency on the source of its fish oil: wild-caught Alaska pollock from OmegAlaska. We looked into this source and found that it is a family-owned, vertically integrated supplier of fish concentrates based in Ohio.
We would have liked to see data from Labdoor on this product. However, they were not included in their most recent study. The brand also does not appear in GOED’s study of 48 top-sellers. Nevertheless, it is one of the top sellers on Amazon. The product has IFOs and IGEN lab certifications.
Sports Research Omega-3 has a rating of 4.8 on Amazon and surpasses our 85% minimum threshold of 5-stars. The manufacturer is a family-owned business based in San Pedro, CA. In addition to supplements, they sell workout mixes and exercise equipment.
Our premium Pick:
This product has all the characteristics we want in an Omega-3 supplement. It has 1100mg of EPA & DHA delivered in triglycerides form. Nordic Naturals, is a 25-year old company based in California. It was founded by a Norwegian named Joar Opheim who when first visiting the US, noticed the great difference in the quality of the fish oils available here vs his native Norway. He saw a clear market opportunity and eight years later the Nordic Naturals brand became the best-selling fish oil in the country. In 2013, the company opened a manufacturing plant in Arctic Norway where they source (at least some of) their fish and process it directly. The product states anchovies and sardines as the key ingredient. We like the fact that they seem to control a big part of their supply chain.
Nordic Naturals is one of the top sellers on Amazon. It has a 4.7 rating and 80% 5-stars (just shy of our ideal cutoff is 85%). Nordic Naturals’ products have been used in many clinical studies on the health benefits of EPA & DHA. This has clearly helped them build their market positioning and brand value. We also heard Peter Attia recommend this brand in this podcast.
The product’s Labdoor scores are only slightly above the median of the group. In the GEOD analysis, it ranks well in label accuracy. But it’s much lower on the Oxidative Quality rankings than we would like. We think that the latter is somewhat impacted by the difficulty of validating peroxide levels in the presence of flavoring agents. This product is lemon-flavored.
Our Budget Pick:
At nearly half the cost of our mid-budget pick, Now Ultra Omega offers a pretty solid option. The concentration of EPA & DHA is a bit lower for this product (around 75%) than our other picks. The labeling does not clearly state the form the oil is delivered in. We default to thinking that it is an ethyl ester given its low price. That’s because re-converting esters into triglycerides form adds another step to the manufacturing process. In fact, all products in this price range that disclose delivery form are esters. We like the fact that the company names the countries where it sources the fish oil (Peru and Morocco). However, no additional information is provided. We’ve seen many other products that source their fish oil from Peru/Chile, but none that listed Morocco as a source.
The product ranks well in both the Labdoor and GOED testing surveys, particularly on the oxidative quality front. It is the 9th highest selling product on Amazon. However, it falls a bit shy of our Amazon customer review targets with a 4.5 rating and only 77% 5 stars. On balance, this product seems pretty solid if pricing is a defining factor.
This product packs a high dose of 1880mg of EPA & DHA delivered in triglycerides form. It also falls on the high end of the range of EPA/DHA ratios we observed at 75/25. There is no strong indication in the research as to the ideal ratio of EPA to DHA. We know both are important because they perform different functions. EPA is strongly associated with effects on heart health. DHA is more correlated to effects on inflammation, brain, and eye health. Having said that, most of the studies we came across were focused on the effects of EPA, which might argue for a stronger skew in the mix. The product is pretty reasonably priced at $0.23 per 1000mg.
We wish the company disclosed more information on the source of the fish oil. The label just states it is sourced from sustainably caught small fish. The eponymous company behind the product was founded in 2011 by a Canadian entrepreneur named Husayn Remtulla. Viva Natural’s positioning is premised on using only natural ingredients that are sustainably and ethically sourced. They market products ranging from organic foods to supplements and natural cosmetics.
The product scores at the top of the list of Labdoor’s fish oil study. It has also appeared in ConsumerLab’s approved list and has IFOS certification. Viva Naturals is a high seller on Amazon, although it’s rating at 4.6 and 81% 5-stars is slightly below our preferred cutoff (4.7 and 85%).
You can learn more about this product here.
Wiley’s Finest first popped onto our radar because it scored the best in “oxidative quality” of all GEOD tested products. We did a little research and it turns out the product is made by the same family business that owns OmegAlaska, the fish oil supplier of Sports Research, one of our other top picks.
Having been a fish oil supplier to other brands for years, the company saw an opportunity to launch its own product directly to consumers. They did so in response to a growing trend in consumers wanting to know more about the traceability and sustainability of the fish oil in their supplements. We like this vertical integration with the oil supply because it suggests a tighter chain of control on the quality of the product.
Wiley’s Finest offers a 1000mg dose of EPA & DHA at an admittedly pricey $0.50, particularly since the fish oil comes in ester rather than triglycerides form. We found this to be an interesting choice given the fact that they supply their own oil. Wiley’s is not a high volume seller on Amazon but has a solid 4.7 rating with a whopping 89% 5 stars (2nd highest in the survey).
You can learn more about this product here.
What did we miss?
We never imagined that building a solid framework to analyze Omega-3 products would be so much work. But we didn’t find any other solid comparison tools out there. So, we are reasonably happy with the results. We know we left many nuances out. For example, we want to dive deeper into other items such as the absorbability of the oils, the best times to take, and the effectiveness of vegan options. Clearly, we probably missed other details as well. Help us make this a better tool by sharing your comments and suggestions.
To build our product database we relied on information from many sources including:
- Labdoor: an independent company that tests supplements to validate their contents and label accuracy.
- Consumer Labs: also an independent lab that tests dietary supplements.
- GOED’s test results for the top 48 selling Omega-3 brands. GOED is an industry trade group that recently tested brands for label claim compliance and for oxidative quality. The results were published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.
- Recommendations from longevity experts sourced from articles and podcasts
- Amazon’s top sellers and ratings sentiment