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How to Buy the Best Fish Oil Supplements – Part 2: Omega-3 Content

written by Vin Kutty

comments 12 comments

best fish oil supplement

This is Part 2 of a series on how to choose the best fish oil supplements. See Part 1 here.

Omega-3 Content

You’re buying fish oil for its Omega-3.

Many people mistakenly think that fish oil is the same as Omega-3.

It’s not!

Fish oil contains Omega-3, sort of like milk contains calcium.

Unfortunately, most fish oil supplements sold at retail stores have relatively low levels of Omega-3.

We’ll call these ‘retail-grade fish oil.’ These are NOT the best fish oil supplements!

Retail-grade fish oils have about 30% Omega-3. That’s it. The other 70% is fish fat – mostly stuff that your body does not need or want.

The other 70% could contain saturated fats, omega-6 fats and even some cholesterol.

Do Not Confuse Pill Size with Omega-3 Content

best fish oil supplement - Omega-3 content

If your bottle of fish oil says ‘Fish Oil 1200 mg,’ then that DOES NOT mean that you are getting 1200 mg of Omega-3. You’re getting 1200 mg of fish oil.

The 1200 mg is the volume or pill size. On most retail fish oil brands, the pill size or volume is listed on the front of the bottle and the amount of Omega-3 is tucked away in the back.

Unless you read the label (supplement facts) on the back of the bottle, there is no way to tell how much Omega-3 is in your 1200 mg fish oil pill.

Since most retail-grade fish oils are only 30% Omega-3, let’s do some quick 4th grade math.

Hang in there folks! This won’t hurt.

1200 mg X 30% = 360 mg of Omega-3 per pill.

Umm…so what are you supposed to do with this information?

Well, here is what you do.

You compare 360 mg of Omega-3 to how much Omega-3 you need to feel benefits. See post on Fish Oil Dosage.

You’ll find that 360 mg is not much at all.

Harvard Medical School. Charles Serhan, a Harvard Medical School expert on Omega-3:

“The kind of benefits seen in most of the clinical trials with Omega-3 generally have involved much higher doses than you see recommended on supplement labels.”

Wall Street Journal. “Fish-Oil Doses Can Be Hard To Swallow,” David Stipp in Wall Street Journal Special Report, January 8, 2008:

“In trials aimed at lowering triglycerides, patients took 3000 mg of Omega-3 per day. You would have to pop a daily dozen of the typical Omega-3 capsules on the market to get that.”

Low Omega-3 Content = Lots of Pills

If you want to maintain healthy triglycerides, you need at least 2000-3000 mg Omega-3 per day combined with a healthy diet and exercise program*. So 3000 divided by 360 = 8.3

Yikes! You will need 8 to 9 pills a day. Not to mention over 100 calories you just ate!

Heck, if you’re going to eat 100 calories, at least make it fun-calories!

If you take 1200 mg of fish oil, you’re not going to feel much benefit. It’s a waste of your time and money – why bother?

This is why the Omega-3 content of a pill is a CRITICAL criteria for choosing the best fish oil supplement.

OK – we know that retail-grade fish oils sold in drug stores and grocery stores have 30% Omega-3.

So are there better ones? Yup. Certainly. And these are the ones you should be focusing on.

Many Health-food-grade fish oils have 50% or 60% Omega-3. These are called concentrates. They are also sometimes incorrectly called Ultra-concentrated fish oils.

These have 500 mg or 600 mg of Omega-3 per pill. Not bad.


The Best Fish Oil Supplements Use Ultra-concentrated Grade Oil

Then you have a new class of ultra pure oils. These are 85% to over 90% pure. This is the good stuff. It’s the real Ultra-concentrated fish oil.

These pills have 800 to 1000 mg of Omega-3 per pill.

Some even have more than 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill.

Yes, they are a little more expensive, but they are absolutely the best fish oil supplements you can buy.

It takes a lot of extra time and effort to concentrate the Omega-3 to such a high degree.

These may be expensive, but they are priceless!

Amount of Omega-3 in One Softgel

* 3rd Party Test Result: Even though the label says 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill, each OmegaVia pill has well over 1100 mg Omega-3 per pill.

Yes, we think we’re special. (Don’t we all?) But we don’t want to toot our own horn too much. There are other great products. Not included in the chart above are a few new super-pure Omega-3 products that belong in the elite “1000 mg Club.” They are:

  1. Minami Nutrition CardiO-3
  2. Ocean Blue Professional
  3. Renew Life Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega

All these products have as much Omega-3 as OmegaVia. Check them out.

The convenience and ease of having 1000 mg of Omega-3 in just one pill makes treating several health conditions simple and easy.

Instead of swallowing a dozen retail-grade fish oil pills to reduce your triglycerides, you can see solid results with 3 or 4 pills.

Omega-3 Per Pill Potency Pills Needed (Daily) Comments
400 mg or Less Low 8 to 12 AVOID – need too many pills to see benefits
400 to 600 mg Medium 5 to 7 Avoid. Still need too many pills
600 to 900 mg High 4 to 5 OK to buy
1000 mg plus Very High 3 Highly Recommended. Ultra Concentrated Grade


Buy only products with at least 75% Omega-3 concentration and make sure each pill has close to 1000 mg Omega-3.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Join the conversation

  1. You chart is wrong. I’m sitting here looking at Norwegian Gold – there are 860 mg of omega
    3 in TWO tablets, not one.

    • Hi MK – there are a few types of Norwegian Gold. I have a hard time sorting them all out. Some are medium potency and others a high-potency. The high-potency ones are ‘RenewLife Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega-3.’ That’s a mouthful! But these have have just over 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill. Hope this help.
      – Vin Kutty

  2. Vin Kutty
    What’s the diference of Fish oil and Omega-3
    My Doc wants me to take fish oil and 2mg per day..again I ask your help each one should I get??????

  3. I’d like to avoid the beef gelatin found in most Omega 3 soft gel supplements. Can you write about the supplements that are made with fish gelatin instead? There are 2 brands that I know of that do this: Norwegian Gold and Nordic Naturals.

    • Hi Amy – yes, those were the brands I was going to mention. There may be others, but I like Nordic Naturals and RenewLife more than most other brands. At this point, we have no plans to convert OmegaVia to fish gelatin, but if there are more people who feel the way you do, let’s hear it!

      We make OmegaVia for YOU! And if you want fish gelatin, that’s what we’ll make it with. But we need to hear from you first.

      • Hi,
        Actually, of the two, only Norwegian Gold uses exclusively fish gelatin for their capsules. I just checked on Nordic’s site and this is their capsule statement: “For all soft gel products except for our Omega-3 in Fish Gelatin Soft Gels, our soft gels are made from FDA approved bovine gelatin /glycerin USP (kosher) and purified water USP. In some products, the gelatin soft gels contain caramel color. In our fruit flavored products, the gelatin soft gels contain natural fruit flavoring. For our Nordic Omega-3 Gummies, Worms, and Fishies, which contain microencapsulated fish oil, we use FDA approved porcine gelatin.”

        I was kind of bummed that my Ultimate Omegas from Nordic use beef, but hey. I’d rather have a total fish gel, but Nordic is a great brand. Most manufacturers seem to use beef. Is it more cost effective than fish gelatin?

        • Hi PJ – yes, beef and pork gelatin are cheaper. Fish gelatin is much more expensive and its supply is sometimes unpredictable. It might surprise many people, but it’s the latter that worries supplement companies. Fish gelatin is ideal for pescatarians…and it’s no good for vegans and most omnivores are fine with beef gelatin, especially if it is kosher.

  4. I always try to find omega 3 pills like yours. I am also concerned the contaminants per pill, because I am very sensitive to heavy metals like mercury, lead and other chemicals like arsenic and so on. Very bit of them can collapse my whole neurotic and physical system for a very long time. So please let me know how much of these contaminants will be contained by each pill, so I can take into account. Also, is it for sale in Hong Kong? Where can I buy it?

  5. I would like to order yours, or at least one you endorse. You seem to sincerely strive to commit to your product. That is a rare characteristic in sales these days, but admirable. You have not only educated me on fish oil vs. omega-3 issue, but also convinced me you are the source I want to refer to on this topic.
    Thank you. I will be ordering from you in the near future, for sure.
    Ellen Joy

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