2017 Most Trusted Omega-3 Supplements Awards | Smarter Reviews

2017 Most Trusted Omega-3 Supplement Awards

Our list of the top omegas, and why Amazon reviews are dangerous

2017 Most Trusted Omega-3 Supplement Awards

For the past year we've asked all of our Smarter Shoppers to send in reviews of their favorite products via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. We're proud to announce that we've received over one thousand submissions from all around the world, including all seven continents, 17 countries, and all of the 50 continental United States. In addition to the reviews, we've also collected research from the latest studies and clinical trials. We've gathered this data for you below, in our citations section.

We compiled this list of the top five products from these reviews and we've opened up the list for additional voting. We also bought and tested each of these products to complete our own reviews. However, we're always trying to improve our lists so if you have suggestions for products please e-mail us at Product@Smarter-Reviews.com.

Do I Really Need an Omega-3 Supplement?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least two, 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, etc.) per week, while the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) titled an article "U.S. adults are not meeting the recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake." 13

The NHANES concluded that omega-3 fatty acids are deemed important and dietary supplementationin addition to food sourcesmay need to be considered to achieve (omega-3) recommendations in the American population. 13

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential for a reason, and it's clear that supplementation may be needed to meet the daily amount our bodies use.
But how do we know which kind of omega-3 fatty acid supplement is best?

Smarter Reviews has spent months compiling extensive research of omega-3 products to help you choose the right supplement for your needs.

What are Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3s are commonly found in fatty fish like salmon, small shellfish like krill, and in many vegetable oils. There are three main omega-3 EFAs: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is the most common omega-3 and is found in vegetable oil, nuts, flax seeds, leafy vegetables, and some animal fats.*3 EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish.3

Omega-3 101: Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Revealed

Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are found throughout our bodiesin fact, they help protect and insulate each and every one of our cells. Perhaps one of the reasons why omega-3 EFAs are so popular is because of the wide range of health benefits they have been shown to provide in hundreds of clinical studies throughout the years.

Furthermore, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, omegas "have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions."  3

Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids. That's just one reason why it is imperative to obtain EFAs through the foods we eat, and through dietary supplementation.

Choosing the right Omega-3 Supplement

Omega-3 EFAs are the most widely used supplements in the United States, and many companies are making omega supplements that are—unfortunately—not necessarily in the consumer's best interests.

Reading the label is one of the most important things you can do to prevent a bad experience when choosing the best omega-3 supplement. The chart below highlights things you should avoid and noteable things you need to look for.

Avoid:

  •  Heavy metal contamination (mercury and PCBs)*
  • Artificial colors*
  • Caramel color*
  • Dioxins

Look For:

  • Omega-3 source (preferably Krill)
  • Total Omega-3 content*
  • High EPA and DHA*

What is the Best Omega-3 Source?

When choosing the best omega-3 supplement, one of the main things you should look for is the source of omega. Fish oil has traditionally been a popular source for omega-3s, but due to the emergence of heavy metals in our oceans, krill oil has significantly grown in popularity.

Over the past year, many of our Smarter Shoppers have asked, "What omega-3 supplement should I take, krill oil or fish oil?"

We researched the answer and found several reasons why krill oil may be the superior choice.

Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil

Absorption

  • Krill and fish oil similarly contain EPA and DHA, but they differ in the way that the omegas are bonded. The omegas in krill oil are mostly bonded to phospholipids while in fish oil they are bonded to triglycerides. The fat cells in humans are also in phospholipid form. A study done on the metabolic effects of krill oil concluded that the omega-3s from krill oil may be more readily and effectively absorbed after ingestion and distribution into the bloodstream.14   Furthermore, the unexpectedly high content of free EPA and DHA in krill oil might have a significant influence on its bioavailability. 21

Purity

  • In addition to krill oil's perhaps greater absorption, krill oil is known to have less fishy aftertastes when a high quality supplement is used made with pure krill oil.

Astaxanthin

  • Krill oil is a major source of astaxanthin, and has strong antioxidant activity.15 Astaxanthin cannot be produced by humans, and has a natural, intense, red color found on krill, lobster, and crayfish. It is also naturally occurring in flamingo feathers.17    This powerful antioxidant may help reduce rough skin, and results may suggest that astaxanthin can improve skin condition in all layers of the skin, in both women and men.16    Astaxanthin has also been shown to significantly increase HDL-cholesterol levels.18     Unfortunately, fish oil does not contain astaxanthin—however, astaxanthin can be fed to farmed seafood for coloring.17

***Safety Warning*** - A notable concern when deciding to choose between fish oil and krill oil is the rising contamination levels in our oceans.

  • Mercury

    Mercury is a highly reactive heavy metal, and the long-term exposure to low levels of mercury are highly misunderstood.18    Mercury may make people susceptible to arherosclerotic disease—a disease in which plaque builds inside your arteries.18
  • PCBs

    PCBs—or polychlorinated biphenyls—are a group of manufactured organic chemicals. PCBs account for 209 individually chlorinated chemicals.19    PCBs typically have a higher concentration in fish, even with low levels of PCBs in the water.

The major concerns with these two contaminants are that they are persistent in our oceans, and they accumulate up the food chain. Basically, big fish eat little fish, and since big fish are higher up the food chain, the concentration levels of heavy metals (mercury and PCBs) has an increased chance of being dangerous to humans. 19-20

Since fish oil may be extracted from the tissues of fish that are higher up the food chain, it might be more contaminated. However, krill are at the very bottom of the food chain, their lifespans are shorter than fish, and since krill eat algae they are relatively free of dioxins and PCBs. 20

    •      Try to Avoid: Amazon Reviews

      Millions of Americans look to Amazon reviews before purchasing their products, but most don’t realize that up to 60% are written by individuals paid to leave positive feedback. Risking your health with reviews that are likely false is too dangerous a game to play when you’re choosing an ingestible supplement

2017's Top 5 Omega-3 Supplement Brands on the Market

We tested 72 different omega-3 supplements, and based on our 5 pillars of excellence: ingredient safety, projective effectiveness, value, return policy, and customer satisfaction, we discovered the Top 5 Omega-3 Supplements of 2017.

1. ANTARCTIC Krill Oil Platinum

Total Ranking

147 votes

9.5/10

A+

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.7/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Value
    8.3 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Return Policy
    8.2 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.3 Avg.

    9.6/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Uses a clinically studied krill oil formula
  • 1500 mg of Pure Krill Oil with 270 mg of EPA, 180 mg of DHA, 300 mg of phospholipids, and 300 mcg of astaxanthin
  • Made with a patented (MSO®) Multi-Stage Oil extraction process
  • 100% natural with zero synthetic ingredients
  • Certified by IFOS (The International Fish Oil Standard program that certifies purity, potency, and freshness)
  • Lemon oil coated, easy-to-swallow pills
  • 90-day unconditional 100% money-back return policy
  • Made in the USA
  • Free shipping available
  • Krill-derived omega supplement

CONS

  • Due to popular demand, frequently out of stock
The Bottom Line

1MD's Antarctic Krill Oil Platinum is Smarter Review's number one choice. This superior omega-3 supplement uses a scientifically studied krill oil formula that contains 1500 mg of krill oil, and provides 270 mg of EPA and 180 mg of DHA—one of the best omega quantities and ratios we've seen. 1MD has done their homework and has brought us an outstanding krill oil formula with no synthetic fillers or artificial ingredients. 1MD stands by their products by offering a generous 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee.

1MD is endorsed by two board-certified doctors, and this is the only brand we found to work with top physicians. They also offer bundled discounts— click below to learn more about their specials.

*Results are based on users' personal experiences collected on this page and do not necessarily reflect typical results of using these products. Please see product website for more information.

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2. Ultimate Omega

Total Ranking

151 votes

9.1/10

A-

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    9.1/10

  • Value
    8.3 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Return Policy
    8.2 Avg.

    9/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.3 Avg.

    8.7/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Contains 650 mg EPA and 450 mg DHA
  • No GMOs
  • MSC-certified sustainable

CONS

  • Fish-derived omega supplement
  • Omegas are bonded to triglycerides, which may be less absorbable
  • Counterfeit products are often sold on Amazon
  • Strong fishy smell/taste
  • Pills can stick together*
  • Poor customer service*
  • Conditional 30-day return policy
The Bottom Line

While Nordic Naturals does have a good reputation, reviews of this product were highly mixed with roughly 30% complaining about mild stomach aches and cramps.* Multiple reviewers bought bottles that contained capsules that were stuck together.* Many reviews indicated a pungent fish smell or aftertaste. Nordic Naturals offers a lower-end 30-day return policy with strict guidelines. Most importantly, this product is not derived from krill, and may not be as readily absorbed or effective.

*Results are based on users' personal experiences collected on this page and do not necessarily reflect typical results of using these products. Please see product website for more information.

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3. MegaRed Ultra Concentration Omega-3 Krill Oil

Total Ranking

573 votes

8.4/10

B

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    8.7/10

  • Value
    8.3 Avg.

    8.1/10

  • Return Policy
    8.2 Avg.

    7.9/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.3 Avg.

    8.8/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Many positive customer reviews*
  • 225 mcg of astaxanthin (from krill oil)
  • Krill-derived omega supplement

CONS

  • Only contains 750 mg of krill oil
  • Contains artificial sweeteners
  • No money-back guarantee offered
The Bottom Line

MegaRed by Schiff is a well-known and popular brand name. However, this product contains a significantly lower amount of krill oil than the others on this list. It also contains the artificial sweetener sorbitol. After thoroughly searching the website we cannot find any sort of money-back guarantee to be found. These setbacks bump it down our top list.

*Results are based on users' personal experiences collected on this page and do not necessarily reflect typical results of using these products. Please see product website for more information.

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4. Ovega-3

Total Ranking

453 votes

7.7/10

C+

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    8/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    7.7/10

  • Value
    8.3 Avg.

    7.4/10

  • Return Policy
    8.2 Avg.

    8.1/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.3 Avg.

    7.5/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Vegetarian and vegan friendly
  • Contains 320 mg of DHA and 130 mg EPA
  • Gluten and GMO-Free

CONS

  • Contains caramel color and other additives
  • Plant-derived omega supplement which has been shown to be less absorbable by the body
The Bottom Line

Ovega-3 is a plant-based omega-3 supplement that contains 320 mg of DHA and 130 mg of EPA omega-3 fatty acids. This product works well if you have any dietary allergies or restrictions (fish, shellfish, soy, milk, eggs, nuts, and wheat) because Ovega-3 is made from a vegetarian/vegan plant source. However, this product does contain caramel color and other additives you don't want. This product is not derived from krill and may not be as readily absorbed or effective because of its plant base.

*Results are based on users' personal experiences collected on this page and do not necessarily reflect typical results of using these products. Please see product website for more information.

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5. Omega XL

Total Ranking

263 votes

7.0/10

C-

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    7.2/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    6.9/10

  • Value
    8.3 Avg.

    7.6/10

  • Return Policy
    8.2 Avg.

    6.7/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.3 Avg.

    6.8/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10


PROS

  • 300 mg proprietary blend
  • Has only 40 mg of mussel oil

CONS

  • Amounts of EPA and DHA are not specified
  • Many customers are unhappy with the product overall*
  • 90-day (conditional) guarantee
The Bottom Line

Omega XL is a mussel source omega product. It contains a 300 mg proprietary blend. The amounts of EPA and DHA in this product are not specified. We found the product only offers 40 mg of mussel oil, which is obviously low and not krill-based. We found many negative reviews about the product on Amazon. They offer a 90-day conditional money-back guarantee that does not include shipping. Ultimately, this was the bottom of our top five.

*Results are based on users' personal experiences collected on this page and do not necessarily reflect typical results of using these products. Please see product website for more information.

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Citations

  1. "Omega-3 Fatty Acids." University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 5 Aug. 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
  2. "Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth." National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. N.p., Aug. 2015. Web. 24 June 2017. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm
  3. "Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution." Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. N.p., n.d. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  4. "Essential Fatty Acids: The Work of George and Mildred Burr." The Journal of Biological Chemistry. N.p., 2012. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  5. "Avoiding omega-3 deficiency." Igennus Healthcare Nutrition. N.p., n.d. https://igennus.com/nutrition/omega-3-science/omega-3-deficiences/
  6. Kidd, Parris M. "Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids." Alternative medicine review 12.3 (2007): 207
  7. DeFilippis, Andrew Paul, Michael J. Blaha, and Terry A. Jacobson. "Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular disease prevention." Current treatment options in cardiovascular medicine 12.4 (2010): 365-380.
  8. Dietary Supplementation of Krill Oil Attenuates Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Experimental Ulcerative Colitis in Rats,Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, November 30, 2011: 47(1); 49-58, T. Grimstad, et al.
  9. Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, November 2011: 25(8); 1725-34, J. K. Kiecolt-Glaser, et al.
  10. Lobraico JM, DiLello LC, Butler AD, Cordisco ME, Petrini JR, Ahmadi R.
  11. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2015 Oct 14;3(1):e000107. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2015-000107. eCollection 2015. PMID: 26504524
  12. Fontani, G., et al. "Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects." European journal of clinical investigation 35.11 (2005): 691-699.
  13. Papanikolaou, Yanni, et al. "US adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008." Nutrition journal 13.1 (2014): 1
  14. Ulven, S. M., Kirkhus, B., Lamglait, A., Basu, S., Elind, E., Haider, T., ... Pedersen, J. I. (2011). Metabolic Effects of Krill Oil are Essentially Similar to Those of Fish Oil but at Lower Dose of EPA and DHA, in Healthy Volunteers.Lipids, 46(1), 37-46. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-010-3490-4
  15. Takaichi, Shinichi, et al. "Fatty acids of astaxanthin esters in krill determined by mild mass spectrometry." Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 136.2 (2003): 317-322.
  16. Tominaga, K., Hongo, N., Karato, M., & Yamashita, E. (2012). Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochimica Polonica, 59(1), 43.
  17. Kidd, Parris. "Astaxanthin, cell membrane nutrient with diverse clinical benefits and anti-aging potential." Altern Med Rev 16.4 (2011): 355-64.
  18. Yoshida, Hiroshi, et al. "Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia."Atherosclerosis 209.2 (2010): 520-523.
  19. "Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Your Health." Wisconsin Department of Health Services. N.p., n.d. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/environmental/pcb-fish.htm
  20. "Any Danger or Negatives In Taking Krill Oil?." Wellwise.org. N.p., n.d. http://krill-oil.wellwise.org/krill-oil-side-effects/krill-oil-dangers
  21. Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, Neubronner J, von Schacky C, Hahn A. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations - a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2011;10:145. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-10-145

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