Fish Oil Triglycerides

Triglycerides are fats in your blood. Just like cholesterol.

A little bit of triglycerides is normal. But if it gets too high, it’s a red flag for heart disease.

Fish oil reduces triglycerides.

Specifically, it’s the Omega-3 that does the trick.

The science behind this is so solid that pharmaceutical companies are now selling prescription fish oil as a drug.


Fish Oil Triglycerides Reduction (%)

fish oil triglycerides levels

Source: European J Clinical Invest. 2002; 32: 429-436.

Fish Oil Triglycerides: Pharmaceutical Drug Approach

You may have heard of the new drug, Lovaza. It’s highly purified fish oil. And it reduces your triglycerides by a third.

fish oil triglycerides - lovaza reduces serum triglycerides
You need to take four Lovaza pills a day to see a 40% drop in triglycerides. But if you go down to your local drug store or grocery store and pop four retail-grade fish oil pills, you’re likely to see little or no difference in your triglyceride levels.

fish oil triglyceride - normal levels

Well, because retail-grade fish oil pills have very little Omega-3. They are not purified enough. They usually have 30% or less Omega-3 in them. That’s just not enough to make a difference.

You’d have to take a dozen retail-grade fish oil pills to equal four Lovaza pills.

So should you buy Lovaza? Yes, if your insurance covers it. It will cost you roughly $28 per month if your insurance covers it. If not, it will cost you at least $180 per month. Fortunately, 83% of managed care ‘formularies’ cover it. So you may be in luck.

The makers of Lovaza sold over $1 Billion worth of fish oil pills last year.

But what if your insurance does not cover Lovaza? Or what if you’re tired of Lovaza side effects – fishy burps?

Fish Oil Triglycerides: Supplement Approach

You can still safely and reliably use fish oil supplements to lower triglycerides.

Key points to remember before you buy fish oil:

  1. Buy only pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Pharma grade is generally defined as 75% or higher Omega-3 content.
  2. Make sure the product has at least 85% Omega-3. Lovaza has a minimum of 85% Omega-3. Very few supplements match this concentration.
  3. Make sure the product is IFOS certified. International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) is a 3rd party testing agency that has tighter standards for fish oil than any other health and safety agency. IFOS tests for safety, purity and freshness. To match the excellent quality of Lovaza, you really need to make sure that your fish oil is IFOS 5-star rated. Supplements are not as FDA-regulated as drugs and you need 3rd party quality testing.

Fish Oil Triglyceride: Consumer Tip

Only pharmaceutical grade fish oils supplements have enough Omega-3 to match the potency of Lovaza.

Actually, there are a few good supplement brands that provide more Omega-3 than Lovaza!

Supplement Alternatives for Lovaza

Productmg Omega-3Pharma Grade
(>85% Omega-3)
IFOS Certified
LOVAZA840 mgDrugDrug Certified
PharmaOmega Cardio850 mgYesNo
GNC Triple Strength900 mgNoNo
RenewLife Super Critical1025 mgYesYes
OmegaVia1140 mgYesYes
910 mgYesNo

The best supplement alternatives for Lovaza are RenewLife and OmegaVia. Minami CardiO-3 and PharmaOmega Cardio are excellent products as well.

There are other really high quality brands like Nordic Naturals and Omax3 that could also work. But their formulas contain less Omega-3 than Lovaza, which means you may have to take 5 of their pills instead of four Lovaza pills. I have personally tried all the brands mentioned here. I recommend all but the GNC item. GNC Triple Strength uses 60% pure fish oil. I consider that too weak. The others all use 85% or higher purity oils.

How Omega-3 Reduces Serum Triglycerides

Fish Oil Triglycerides – Mechanism of action:
Triglyceride production could be reduced by Omega-3s in a few ways:

  1. Inhibit lipogenesis
  2. Reduced substrate availability, which could be secondary to:
  • Increase in beta-oxidation
  • Decreased free fatty acids delivery to the liver
  • Reduced hepatic fatty acids synthesis
  • Stimulate phospholipid synthesis
  • Decreased activity of triglyceride-synthesizing enzymes (diacylgylcerol acyltranferase or phosphatidic acid phosphohydrolase).

The final result is always reduced VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) and Triglyceride secretion.

Harris WS, Bulchandani D.
Why do omega-3 fatty acids lower serum triglycerides? Current Opin. Lipidology. 2006; 17:387-393.
fish oil triglycerides reduction - mechanism of action

Fish Oil Triglycerides: Dosage

In science-speak, triglyceride reduction is ‘dose-dependent.’ This means that the more Omega-3 you take, the lower your triglycerides will be.

To really reduce your triglycerides, you need between 3000 and 4000 mg of Omega-3 per day. You can get that from four pills of Lovaza, RenewLife or OmegaVia.

Don’t take more than 3000 mg Omega-3 per day without your doctor’s approval and supervision. Fish oil is unlikely to cause side effects at that level, but always remember to start with one pill a day and work up to 3 or 4 pills a day.

Also, if you are already taking Lovaza, don’t switch to supplements without talking to your doctor.


This website is for your education and general health information only. The ideas, opinions and suggestions contained on this website are not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from your doctor for any health condition or problem. Users of this website should not rely on information provided on this website for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician. Please do not start or stop any medications without consulting with your doctor. We neither encourage you to do so, nor can we be held responsible for the fall out of failing to seek the counsel of a medical health practitioner.

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Vin Kutty
Vin Kutty, MS, is co-founder of Innovix Pharma. He is a nutritionist and Omega-3 expert with 20 years of experience.


Join the Conversation

  1. Minami Nutrition Omega-3s actually contain MORE Omega-3 than Lovaza per only ONE soft gel. Minami’s CardiO-3 supplement contains 90% Omega-3! (635mg EPA, 194mg DHA, 71mg Other Omega-3s per ONE 1g soft gel!)

    If concentrations are a key factor, then you should mention that OmegaVia is only 67% Omega-3 per soft gel (1000mg total Omega-3 per one 1.5g soft gel). This is considerably lower than Lovaza.

    Secondly, IFOS is not the best certification for purity of fish oils, as they allow for a 15% label accuracy either way.

    • Hi Steven – great to have informed, expert feedback!

      Thanks for the info on Minami CardiO-3. Minami is an excellent brand of fish oil. That is why I mentioned them. I will update the blog right away.

      Regarding concentration, even though OmegaVia label claims 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill, it tests at over 1100 mg. Current batch is actually 1140 mg but the label is conservative. And the softgel is not 1.5 grams. It’s 1.3 grams. That makes this batch almost 88% pure. Typically, it is 85%. As good or better than Lovaza. Look for a copy of certificate of analysis on our website shortly.

      As for IFOS, you’re right, the 15% wiggle room may be a bit high, but tight enough to weed out polluted or low-quality products. From a consumer perspective, there are not many other well-known, 3rd party fish oil quality-checkers like IFOS. Until there are better 3rd parties out there, IFOS gives concerned consumers a place to check the facts where there is minimal marketing or self-promotion.

      Thanks again for he valuable comments.


  2. So does this means that each batch has different omega-3 purity percentage?
    That’s is not good for me! I need to know what is the minimum guaranteed purity.
    I had taken Omax3 in the past and was very happy with it, and Omax3 claimed to
    have 91% purity. What makes Omegavia better than Omax3?

    • Hi Tom – we establish a minimum guaranteed Omega-3 purity of 85%. However, being a natural product, each batch will have slightly different purity. Our purity has always been between 89 and 93%.

      Omax3 is a very good product. It has high purity and a small pill size. OmegaVia is enteric-coated, Omax is not. OmegaVia has 1000 mg of Omega-3 per pill while Omax3 has 750 mg. Cost of 1000 mg of delivered Omega-3 is 49 cents for OmegaVia while it is 93 cents for Omax3. OmegaVia’s purity, potency and freshness claims are third-part validated by IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) while Omax3 does not appear to test at IFOS. Perhaps they do but do not publicly share the data…I don’t know. OmegaVia has complete transparency about source of oil, manufacturing etc. But on the down side, our pills are fairly large.

      Also, starting late Spring of 2012, we will launch a new formula with almost 150 mg more Omega-3 per pill without any increase in pill size. The purity will also be higher than the current formula. Hope this helps.

      – Vin

  3. Wait… what? “Vin Kutty is […. ] genetically predisposed to High Triglycerides and Foot-in-Mouth Disease.” Deliberate or not, that’s a hilarious typo, considering Foot AND Mouth Disease is usually confined to hoofed animals. Perhaps you meant the human variation: Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

    • hoofs or horns, at least not yet. Given that my fish oil blogs seems to tick people off regularly (not sure why!), foot-in-mouth seemed appropriate.

  4. I bought a bottle of pacific coast ultra lab omega 3. I was wanting to know if it was a good supplement and what percentage of omega 3 is in there dosage?

    • Hi Josh – there is 700 mg of Omega-3 per pill. That makes is 70% Omega-3 potency. Slightly better than average Omega-3 potency. Don’t know if it is a good product – they do not have their products tested at IFOS, so have to believe what they say on the label. I’d pass.

  5. I am 39. 15 years ago doctor told me i have high triglycerides. At that time i didnt take any medicine. couple of months ago my tg level were 1200. i started gempid which reduced my TG but i left just because of its side effects and continue my healthy life style 45 minutes walk and not using any processed sweet. Even then my triglycrieds increased to 750. i have started gnc triple strength omega 1560 epa and dha. 2 capsule a day is that enough dose or should i increase it? second is this product alright?

    • Hi Ahmar – You will need to increase your Omega-3 dosage to about 4000 mg per day of EPA and DHA. More importantly, you will need to drastically cut back on all grains, wheat, rice, flour and starchy vegetables like potato and even some fruits. Your diet should be mostly non-starchy leafy vegetables, seafood, meats, eggs and nuts.

    • Hi Rodney – their quality is fairly good, but the potency of the oil is very low. Each 1200 mg capsule only has 360 mg of Omega-3. That ranks it near the bottom in terms of Omega-3 potency…and after all, you’re taking fish oil for the Omega-3. There are dozens of other brands that offer more Omega-3. Google IFOS Consumer Reports for a wide selection of third-party tested fish oils.

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