Buying the best fish oil capsule for you

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 10 June 2020.
Tagged: fish oil, health, healthy cooking, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, nutrition

Buying the best fish oil capsule for you

Standard, double strength, triple strength, wild salmon, algal or krill oil – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of fish oil capsules in the supplement section. There are so many brands and variations in strengths on the market. Knowing what to look for and how to read the labels is essential if you want to choose correctly.

It might sound strange but buying fish oil is a bit like buying perfume – you get what you pay for. A bottle of 4,000 capsules for only $20 probably means the quality is not that high. 

Four quick tips to help you choose

  1. Decide if you can swallow two capsules a day or want the convenience of swallowing only one. This is the main difference between brands of fish oil available at supermarkets, pharmacies, vitamin shops and online.
  2. Shop around for the best buy within each type.
  3. Check the expiry date as quality can deteriorate with time. You want to buy a brand with the longest shelf life. Try to buy from a fast-moving place where there’s quick turnover.
  4. Check the size of the capsule. Some are pretty huge and can be difficult to swallow for some people.

The 4 types of fish oil capsules

At present, there are four types of fish oil capsules:

1. Standard fish oil capsule (18/12 oils)

 A standard capsule contains 1,000 mg of fish oil, which is equal to 1 gram of fish oil. This gives you 180 mg EPA plus 120 mg DHA. At less than 20 cents a dose, these are the cheapest and most widely available of all fish oils.

The figures simply mean you are getting a total of 300 mg of the long-chain omega-3s (180 plus 120), with the remaining 700 mg of the fatty acids present not having any therapeutic value. Remember this figure of 300 when shopping so you can compare. You’ll often see it listed as 300 mg omega-3 marine triglycerides.

  • If you are aiming to take a daily dose of 500 mg omega-3s: you need to take two of these capsules to reach that amount. At 600 mg, you actually get 20 per cent more but there’s no other way. 
  • If you are aiming to take a higher daily dose of 2,500 mg: you need to take 8 of these capsules to reach that amount. Ideally divide them throughout the day and take 4 lots of two capsules. 
Example brands (in alphabetical order):
  • Bioglan
  • Blackmores
  • Coles
  • GO Health
  • Herbs of Gold
  • Nature’s Way
  • Nature’s Own
  • Quality Health
  • Sweet Ultiboost
  • Wagner

2. Higher dose fish oil with 50 per cent more (concentrated in EPA and DHA)

Some brands now advertise they are extra concentrated (“Super strength” or “One-a-day”) to enable you to swallow only one capsule yet obtain the same dose as two of the standard capsules. My assessment is that you pay a little more and may have to visit a pharmacy to buy them but you get 50 per cent more omega-3s so these are good value for money and convenient. These are the ones I like. You can always wait until these one-a-day capsules come on special and then buy in bulk as long as they’re not close to their expiry date and you store them correctly.

Example brands (in alphabetical order):
  • Bioglan
  • Cenovis
  • GO Health
  • Nature’s Own
  • Nature’s Way
  • Swiss Ultiboost 

3. Double or triple strength (more concentrated in EPA and DHA)

 This range is more expensive still so you’ll have to weigh up if it’s worth paying the extra for the convenience.

Example brands (in alphabetical order):
  • Bioglan
  • Blackmores
  • GO Health
  • Nature’s Own
  • Quality Health

4. Liquid fish oil

Your choices have narrowed but the liquid oil is cheaper – and good for arthritis in many cases. These are a good option if you have to take a lot or don’t fancy swallowing so many capsules. See more in the next item. 

Example brands (in alphabetical order):
  • Melrose
  • Ethical Nutrients
  • Nordic Naturals

Caps

The bottom line

I hope this short extract from my latest ebook, "Fish Oils & Omega-3s”, will help you understand the differences between the available capsules. If you want to learn more, about fish oils and their uses, grab yourself a copy from the Foodwatch shop. It lists and explains the most common terms, compares popular brands of capsules and reveals the key considerations in choosing the most beneficial fish oil for you.

To buy your copy of the eBook, click here.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Nutrition for Life 2020 Edition is a fresh new update on all the things you've read about or heard in the last year. Think insects, collagen, vegan eating, Keto dieting, vitamin B12, fast food and cafe culture.  It has plenty of colour pictures and is easy to dip in and out of. Grab your copy NOW!