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Liquid Fish Oil

by Vin Kutty, MS on October 29, 2010

Should you buy liquid fish oil?

You know, the ooey gooey kind you gulp down with a teaspoon (or tablespoon if you’re brave.)
If you were cornered as a child by a parent wielding a teaspoon of cod liver oil, this will bring back traumatic memories.

May be the liquid fish oil tasted nasty and disgusting…but they were onto something.

Turns out fish oil really is brain food. And heart food and joint food.

So why try liquid fish oil now?

After all, we have some very high quality fish oil in pills.

Reasons to buy liquid fish oil

    1. Tons of Omega-3 per teaspoon. This is the main reason to buy fish oil in liquid form. The strongest and best pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills have about 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill. But liquid fish oil often have a lot more.Here are a few examples:
      • OK: Barleans Signature Liquid Fish Oil: 1390 mg per teaspoon
      • Good: Carlsons Liquid Fish Oil: 1600 mg per tsp
      • Great: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega provides a spectacular 3200 mg Omega-3 per teaspoon

Liquid Fish Oil provides clinically effective dosages

  1. Clinically effective doses. It is easy to get clinically effective doses with liquid fish oil. If you were taking a regular strength 1000 mg fish oil pill from, say Walmart, you’d need a dozen pills a day to reduce your triglycerides. With liquid fish oil, you can have that clinically proven benefit with just 2 teaspoons!
  2. Less Frequent Dosing. All the Omega-3 you need in one gulp.
  3. Cheaper than fish oil pills. Putting fish oil into gelatin capsules is high-tech and expensive. So by avoiding that step with liquid fish oil, you get more Omega-3 per dollar.

Reasons NOT to buy liquid fish oil

And there is really only one major reason not to buy:

  1. The taste! Oh my goodness!
    • Even the best liquid fish oil brands (see above) are traumatizing to gulp down. You can hold your nose all you want, but it goes down like lemon-flavored paint thinner!
    • Some brands are MUCH better than others. If you decide to try liquid fish oil, I hope you try one of the proven, high quality brands. Because if you gag on a cheap, low-quality one, your day will be ruined – you’ll be burping up the stuff for hours.
  2. Short shelf-life. Liquid fish oils spoil quickly and easily.
    • Fish oil is very sensitive to heat, moisture, light and air (oxygen).
    • Every time you open and close the bottle, you are exposing the sensitive oil to all of the above. This causes rancidity or oxidation.
    • It must be made and consumed quickly. Once opened, I strongly advise that you finish the bottle within a month or two.
    • Even slightly rancid or oxidized fish oil is harmful to your body.
  3. Odor & Burping.
    • If you are even slightly prone to fishy burps with fish oil pills, liquid fish oil will be much worse. Even with the good quality ones.
    • You might not notice (or care!) but those around you may want to know if you’ve been moonlighting at SeaWorld.

Some lucky folks don’t mind the taste and do not have a burping problem. My hat’s off to them.

I’m not one of those lucky people, so I rely on high-potency pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills. Products that have at least 1000 mg of Omega-3 in each pill.

OmegaVia is one such product. Ocean Blue Professional and Minami CardiO3 are a couple of other good brands that also have 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the positives of liquid fish oil.


How to Choose the Right Liquid Fish Oil

When it comes to liquids, you should pay close attention to ‘oxidation by-products.’

Why? Because these by-products are chemical signs that rancidity has begun. Once it’s begun, it cannot be reversed and the odor and taste will quickly worsen.

So what do you look for?

Look for these freshness indicators:

  • Peroxide – should be less than 5 meq/kg
  • Anisidine – should be less than 20 meq/kg
  • Total Oxidation – should be less than 26 meq/kg
  • Acid Value – should be less than 3.0 mg KOH/g

These are freshness quality standards set by non-profit consumer and industry organizations.

Liquid Fish Oil can be a smelly affair
High levels of these compounds are tell-tale chemical signs that rancidity has set in. If these are high, then you know it’s going to stink.

So how much is too much of these compounds? It’s hard work for an average person to decipher all this.

If you really care about quality, you should demand that all fish oil manufacturers share their ‘certificate of analysis’ with you. If they don’t share this information, there is no way to know what’s in the oil you’re taking.

Move onto other brands that are open and transparent with their customers.

Fortunately, there are 3rd party testing organizations like International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS).

Third Party tested Fish Oil

IFOS tests and publishes the certificate of analysis of several brands. A 5-star rating from IFOS is an assured sign of quality. Well, at least it was of high quality when the product was tested. If your liquid fish oil was sitting around on a shelf for a year after its IFOS test, it could be, past its prime.

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is a liquid fish oil that passes all IFOS tests with flying colors.

Ready to Try Liquid Fish Oil?

Liquid Fish Oil - Nordic Natural
Try Nordic Natural Ultimate Omega. (I do not know anyone at Nordic Naturals (surprisingly!) and I am not being compensated for this positive review.) This product always seems to have one of the lowest levels of oxidation by-products. The only negative is the high cost. But expensive health care items are often priceless. 4 oz. Bottle is $41.95


Liquid Fish Oil from barleans
I have tried Barleans Omega Swirls. They are aimed at kids so they are not ghastly tasting. That’s because they’ve emulsified liquid fish oil with a bunch of sweeteners, gums and taster maskers. But the Omega-3 levels are very low – much lower than many fish oil pills. Try it if you simply cannot swallow pills. (Disclosure: I know and like the nice folks at Barleans. Great people!) 8 oz bottle is $13.99


Liquid Fish Oil - Carlsons
Carlsons Liquid Fish Oil. This is a very popular and relatively good product. It is usually fresh because it is sold in high volumes and rarely sits around getting rancid. They have recently begun publishing certificates of analyses at IFOS. 16 oz bottle is about $30, depending on where you buy it.


Liquid Fish Oil - Zone OmegaRx
Dr. Barry Sears’ ZONE OmegaRx is IFOS certified. And the quality of Zone products are usually very high. IFOS certified fish oil products are worth paying a little extra for, after all, you know exactly what you’re getting. Hard to go wrong when you combine Dr. Sears with IFOS, but still, a bottle costs almost $70! If you’re going to spend that much, Nordic Naturals may be a better value.


WINNER:

My first choice, without hesitation, is Nordic Naturals. Zone OmegaRx and Carlsons are tied for second.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog do not constitute medical advice. This is merely an open discussion of the science behind EPA & DHA Omega-3 and Fish Oil. Please consult your physician for medical advice.

Fish Oil pills expert and Author Vin Kutty About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. He appreciates but refrains from liquid fish oil to preserve his social life. 


liquid fish oil

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

NM November 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Vin,
To get around the “fish burp” and “indigestion” problems, fish oil pills like yours and others have what is called “enteric coated” pills. This helps me immensely as I no longer get
the acid-reflux issues, nor the burps. However, I guess with liquid fish oil, this is not the case. Since it’s not “coated”, do people generally suffer from indigestion with the liquid form?

Reply

Omegavia November 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Hi Nick,

Enteric coating is your best option for preventing reflux or burps. With liquid fish oils, if you’re prone to burping, you will have problems. Most people who take liquid fish oil do not suffer from indigestion…it’s just that those who’re more likely to burp have no protection. Also, liquid fish oils go rancid fairly quickly, so by the time you’re at the end of the bottle, it may be much higher in oxidative by-products than when you first swigged a spoonful.

VIn

Reply

Samantha January 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I have had trouble swallowing pills all my life and I tried with the 1000 capsules to no avail. I ended up just chewing it and I found that the taste wasn’t really all that bad. This was really helpful!

Reply

dave August 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

i take nature’s answer….liquid..best bang for the buck and has a slight orange taste but is pretty taste less..i love the orange burps.

if i could afford nordic i would buy it…you forgot to mention it is tryglyceride form.

Reply

Omegavia August 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hi Dave – thanks. Yes, Nordic is usually triglyceride form. Most liquids are in the triglyceride form. Much smoother tasting than ethyl ester form.
- Vin Kutty

Reply

Vick February 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

Hi Vin,

First of all, thanks very much for such an informative blog. I’ve learned a great deal reading it. I just recently made my first purchase of Omegavia and am very excited about including it as part of my daily supplements.

Re: omega 3 in liquid form, I did a cost per 1000 mg Omega 3 analysis, similiar to the one you provided in one of the blog entries, comparing Omegavia and Nordic Natural. Surprisingly, Nordic Natural has a much lower cost $0.42 (liquid) v. $0.93 (pill) due to the fact that one serving size delivers very high omega3.

I might give the liquid form a try one of these days! I think the pill form may still have several advantages including the taste, storage and convenience.

Reply

Vin Kutty February 5, 2013 at 12:28 am

Hi Vicky – yes, liquid fish oils contain a big dose of Omegas and are MUCH cheaper. Putting oil into a bottle is a much simpler and cheaper process than putting it into gelatin softgels. So the savings are typically passed on to you. If you can handle the taste and know how to store and handle liquid fish oils, then you should definitely try their liquid.

- Vin Kutty

Reply

PJ April 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Hi, Vin,
Love your blog. One correction. Maybe Carlson’s Finest Fish Oil was IFOS tested and approved at one point, but it is now. It does not (for some reason) say so on the label like most other companies that wear the “flag,” but it’s on the IFOS website. http://www.ifosprogram.com/files/IFOS%20Very%20Finest%20Fish%20Oil%20Liquid%20Lot%2022489101.pdf

And it passes your rancidity markers with more than flying colors. :)

Reply

PJ April 1, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Oh, and the only Nordic Naturals liquid on IFOS is their cod liver oil. The Ultimate Omega liquid is not there. (Don’t know why?)

Just FYI.

Reply

Vin Kutty April 1, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Hi PJ – Nordic Naturals is ‘unique’ in that they test many of their products at IFOS but don’t seem publish all the results for the public to see. Of course, there is a cost associated with it, which should be no issue for Nordic. Anyway, don’t let this hold you back from buying their liquid item. It is still the best of the bunch.

Reply

Vin Kutty April 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Hi PJ – you’re right. I do see Carlsons liquid on the IFOS list. Used to not be there. I’ll have to update this post, which, frankly, I haven’t looked at in a couple of years. Will make the correction. With this change, I’d put it with Zone as a tie for second place. Liquid fish oils have come a long way in the last few years.

Reply

PJ April 1, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Thanks, Vin. I would like to try the Nordic version, but at $70 for an 8oz bottle, that’s out of my league. For now, I’ll keep sipping my Carlson’s martini. haha It’s actually pretty darn good.

Maybe when you guys come out with a liquid OmegaVia, I’ll give yours a shot. :)

Reply

Vin Kutty April 2, 2014 at 12:02 am

Shhh! ;-)

Reply

Sam June 27, 2014 at 11:04 pm

PJ

You can get an 8oz Nordic naturals ultimate omega xtra with 3500mg of omega 3′s per tea spoon for $43/-

Vin,

The above label on the bottle states EPA 2000mg DHA 1000mg and other omega 3′s 500mg.

What are other omega 3′s?

Thanks for all the invaluable information you provide on this site.

Reply

Vin Kutty, MS June 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Hi Sam – ‘Other Omega-3 are usually 4 or 5 fatty acids listed here: http://www.omegavia.com/product-details/ click on the labels tab. These fatty acids can often be easily converted to EPA or have beneficial effect by themselves.

Reply

Sam June 27, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Oh PJ,

You’ll find it for that price on Amazon.

Reply

Sam June 28, 2014 at 7:06 am

Can I freeze the liquid fish oil?

Reply

Vin Kutty, MS June 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Hi Sam – you can put it in the freezer to store it if you’re not using it. Your bottle that you’re consuming from can be kept in the fridge too.

Reply

Sam July 2, 2014 at 8:37 am

Hi Vin

I have a 6 and 3 year old. How much omega 3′s should I give them? And do I have to give it on a daily basis? Thanks.

Reply

Vin Kutty, MS July 3, 2014 at 4:27 am

Hi Sam – you don’t have to give it to them every day…if they have wild salmon, you can skip a couple of days. Otherwise, it is best if you are somewhat regular with it. About 300 to 500 mg of Omega-3 per day ought to be OK. A little more won’t hurt.

Reply

Sam July 3, 2014 at 5:18 am

I’m giving them children’s DHA by Nordic naturals. So far 1 teaspoon daily. Will it thin their blood too much? Kids are constantly injuring themselves….just want to make sure the bleeding stops when they do.

Reply

Vin Kutty, MS July 3, 2014 at 7:05 am

Hi Sam – if you’re concerned, you could always give them less or less frequently. However, the blood thinning effect of Omega-3 is mostly unsubstantiated. When it has occurred, it was at doses several fold higher than what you’re giving your kids.

Reply

Sam July 3, 2014 at 8:15 am

Okay thanks. Good to know.

Reply

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