Is liquid fish oil better than capsules? Fish oils are available in a number of different forms and choosing the right kind will help you achieve the benefits you seek from this popular nutritional supplement.
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fats can have a profound effect on your emotional, physical and cardiovascular health. Many people use these supplements for pain relief and management of inflammatory health conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Choosing products that provides high concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while reducing your exposure to toxins and contaminants, will maximize the health benefits and reduce the risk for side effects.
If you're part of the Baby Boomer generation, you may have memories of your Grandmother or mother making your gulp down a nasty-tasting spoonful of cod liver oil. Back in the 1950's and 60's this was the most popular form of fish oil supplement.
Now you can get these supplements in soft gel and liquid and they come in a variety of different flavors. The following information will help you choose the best product.
Bottled liquids generally provide a higher amount of omega 3 fatty acids per dosage compared to soft gels. The majority of 1000 mg pills provide a 30% concentration of omega 3 fatty acids (average dosage of EPA is 180 mg and DHA is 120 mg. This totals 300 mg in a 1000 mg dosage - a 30% concentration.)
Here are sample EPA and DHA dosages for a single 5 ml teaspoonful of liquid fish oils:
Carlson Labs Liquid Fish Oil - 800 mg EPA + 500 mg DHA + 300 mg other Omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Sears Omega Rx Fish Oil - 1800 mg EPA + 900 mg DHA
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Liquid - 1626 mg EPA + 1126 mg DHA + 450 mg other Omega-3 fatty acids.
The majority of soft gels provide lower amounts of omega 3 fatty acids; therefore, you may need to take more pills per day to get the same dosage concentration available from a liquid.
Many manufacturers use animal-based gelatins and collagens to create the soft gels. If you wish to avoid excessive exposure to these kinds of animal-based products, you can choose to use vegetarian-based gelatins or choose a liquid-based product.
More Expensive Packaging
Some liquid supplements come packaged in dark amber glass bottles; omega 3 fatty acids can become rancid when exposed to light. Using heavy glass bottles may increase packaging and transportation costs which could be passed on to the consumer.
Unopened bottles have a relatively longer shelf-life - up to 2 - 3 months if stored in a cool place. However, liquids will not last as long as soft gels. It's recommended you consume all opened products within a month to prevent possible oxidation.
Compared to those foul-tasting cod liver oils of the past, many products now come in a variety of flavors. You can now buy liquid fish oils for kids that come flavored in lemon, orange, strawberry and other fruity flavors. However, in spite of these flavorings, you may be one of these people that can't tolerate the texture and after-taste of an oil-based product.
Possible Side Effects
Some people may experience increased risk for fish burps and bad breath. Using highly-purified products that have been certified to contain the lowest levels of contaminants and impurities will greatly reduce your risk for these types of side effects.
Based on the above points, you should choose your product based on the following criteria:
Provides ample amount of omega 3 fatty acids
Depending on your purpose for supplementation, you may require a minimum dosage of EPA and DHA. Women using fish oils for pregnancy & fertility may have different needs than someone using them for pain relief or management of coronary heart disease. Research studies have proven that clinically effective dosages of omega 3 fatty acids can have a positive effect on your health.
Choose products that provide a Certificate of Analysis by either in-house testing or a third-party laboratory. This will help ensure the product meets specific standards for purity and omega 3 fatty acid concentrations. The International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) is a third-party laboratory that provides laboratory analysis of many popular fish oil supplements.
A general rule is the higher the omega 3 concentrations are always priced higher than lower concentrations. Depending on your health needs, you may only need a lower dose fish oil for overall health or you may require a higher-grade product that provides clinically effective doses of EPA and DHA for specific therapeutic treatments. The type of product you choose will be reflected in the overall price for that specific brand.
For example, Dr. Sears Ultra Refined OmegaRx (250 ml @ $79.95 Suggested Retail Price) costs more than Carlsons Liquid fish oil (500 ml @ $24.90 Suggested Retail Price) but this higher cost is offset by the increased omega 3 fatty acid concentration per dose.
Here are reviews of some of the most popular liquid fish oil supplements. Please be advised the following information is be construed as personal opinion and is not be to accepted as medical advice.
1. Carlson Labs - The Very Finest Fish Oil Liquid - This is one of my favorite day-to-day liquid fish oil supplements. It comes in a 500 ml dark amber glass bottle to prevent light exposure.
A single 5 ml teaspoon dosage (as recommended on the bottle label) provides EPA - 800 mg, DHA - 500 mg and other Omega-3 fatty acids - 300 mg. This product contains fish oils from anchovies and mackerel.
Carlson Labs claims their products are regularly tested for purity and potency by an independent FDA Registered lab using AOAC International Protocols. Unfortunately, you won't find their products listed on the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) to check the validity of their testing and certification.
I believe this is a good standard liquid fish oil that should meet the needs for anyone requiring a daily omega 3 fatty acid supplement. It's available in lemon and orange flavors; I prefer the lemon flavor as I think the orange flavor comes off a bit too artificial tasting.
Suggested Retail Price - $24.90 and each 500 ml bottle provides 100 dosages at under $ 0.25 per dosage.
2. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Liquid - Nordic Naturals offers one of the largest varieties of fish oil products. The Nordic Naturals Omega-3 is their flagship liquid product.
This product is available in 8 & 16 ounce dark blue glass bottles. A 5 ml teaspoon dosage (as described on the bottle label) provides EPA - 825 mg, DHA - 550 mg and other Omega-3 fatty acids - 350 mg.
It contains fish oil made from anchovies and sardines from the Norwegian Sea; it's available in a natural lemon flavor with a rosemary extract to act as a preservative.
I've used both Carlson Labs and Nordic Naturals and believe they're similar products that offer ample amounts of omega 3 fatty acids on a cost-effective basis. Nordic Naturals does provide a slightly higher amount of EPA and DHA per dose.
Nordic Naturals provides IFOS testing results on their website so you can see the actual product rating and determine yourself if this product meets the minimum standards for oxidation, PCB's and dioxin, as set forth by the World Health Organization and Council for Responsible Nutrition.
I preferred the lemon flavor and the oil texture seemed a bit 'lighter' than Carlson Labs. Learn more about this product in my review of Nordic Natural Fish Oils.
Suggested Retail Price - $25.95 (500 ml bottle)
3. Nutra Sea Fish Oil - Produced by a Canadian company, Ascenta Health, this is a relative new comer on the omega 3 fish oil market. I came across this product at a local health food store and I was really impressed with the quality of this fish oil.
Every product batch is tested and verified by a third-party laboratory and you can check the actual test results on the company website by entering the batch number on your bottle.
NutraSea is their flagship product and it's available in a 500 ml bottle. Each 5 mg teaspoon provides 1500 mg of omega 3 fatty acids containing EPA - 750 mg, DHA - 500 mg. The oil is made from sardines, anchovies and/or mackerel and the company adds a green tea extract and natural vitamin E as antioxidants.
It comes in lemon and mango flavors; I like the lemon flavor, but wasn't a big fan of the mango. The oil has a very clean taste to it (not fishy at all) and I didn't experience any fish breath or gas from this product. This product is also available in a smaller 200 ml bottle and it does cost more that Carlson Labs and Nordic Natural.
Suggested Retail Price - $23.99 (200 ml) and they only ship to USA and Canada.
4. Dr. Sears Omega RX Fish Oils - Dr. Sears created these IFOS-certified products based on extensive research on the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on inflammation and hard physical training.
They contain some of the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids in a highly-purified form. Each 5 ml teaspoon provides a high dosage of EPA - 1800 mg and DHA - 900 mg.
If you require therapeutic dosages to counter inflammation and/or specific health needs, these may be the products for you. Dr. Sears claims his products may help reduce cellular inflammation, reduce joint pain and support cognitive function.
These products are premium liquid omega 3 supplements and the high omega 3 concentration are reflected in their prices; a single 225 ml bottle costs $79.95. However, on a cost-per-gram basis, you may actually save money since you would need to take many soft gel capsules per serving to match the amount of EPA and DHA you get per dose of Omega Rx.
Learn more about these products by reading this review of Dr. Sears fish oils.
Suggested Retail Price - $79.95 with a discount for repeat Autoship $63.96
The above products are sold by different sellers of nutritional health supplements. The above prices are Suggested Retail Prices and many on-line retailers offer weekly deals and sales so you may be able to purchase these products at reduced prices.
If you only need a basic liquid fish oil I would choose either Carlson Labs or Nordic Naturals. For people that need higher concentrations for cardiovascular health or other specific health needs, you could use a high-concentration product such as Dr. Sears. Remember to consult with your Doctor before using any nutritional supplement that may affect your overall health.