The Shocking Truth About Fish Oil Supplements

You’ve probably heard a lot about omega-3 fatty acids recently. Today’s diet has thrown fatty acid intake out of whack, as people eat higher levels of omega-6 acids and lower levels of omega-3s. In fact, your body needs both types of essential fatty acids in balance. Because there’s such an imbalance in people’s EFA (essential fatty acid) ratio, most people just want to pop a pill, which is the usual approach, rather than work to correct the overall imbalance. In this case, that would be a fish oil pill, and they are extremely prevalent today. But let’s take a look at whether fish oil pills are all they are purported to be. Essential Fatty Acids While you need essential fatty acids to function, you must get them from your diet. Your body does not produce them. Omega-6 fats are important because they contribute to the immune response of inflammation, and the increase blood clotting and cell proliferation. Omega-3s, on the other hand, decrease inflammation, minimize clotting, and control cell proliferation. From a health perspective, both sets of functions are tremendously important, and a balance must be achieved between the two types of essential fats in order to maintain healthy function. Today’s Western diet is rich in Omega-6 fats, of which a large source is from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which are not only used for cooking but are included in processed foods that range from frozen waffles to rice milk. Check labels- soybean, cottonseed, canola, safflower oil, etc. are all such oils, and their over-consumption creates an imbalance, because the standard diet is much lower in omega-3 fats than omega-6 fats. Omega-3s are present in certain plant sources, including walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds, as well as in oily fish. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the imbalance in today’s diet between the two types of essential fatty acids is the most likely explanation behind the rise in incidence of inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis.

Omega-3 Supplementation

In order to correct this imbalance, many Americans have turned to omega-3 supplementation instead of changing their diet. Supplements are typically made from either fish oil or flax seed oil, and come in various forms including capsules, gels, and liquids.

The Problem with Fish Oil

If you’ve ever taken fish oil capsules, then you’re probably aware of the #1 complaint people have about them: they repeat on you. That’s right, fish oil capsules nearly always cause fish oil burps. If you don’t like fish (or maybe even if you do), that’s not a pleasant side effect. It’s um, horribly unattractive to put it politely. One of the reasons this happens is this: fish oil capsules are frequently rancid. According to Dr. Michael Eades, fish oil capsules contain highly unsaturated DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, the less saturated an oil is, the more unstable it is and the more quickly it degrades. In fact, it is one of the reasons fish goes bad so quickly. Just how many of the fish oil capsules on the market are rancid? You might be surprised (and a little disgusted). Researchers at New Zealand’s Crop and Food Research Institute tested capsules from an array of brands from countries all over the world and discovered that a majority of the capsules they tested had begun to oxidize. According to the researchers, not only will oxidized fish oils not benefit takers, but they may actually cause harm. Health risks associated with rancid fish oil include increased risk of atherosclerosis and thrombosis (in other words, hardening of the arteries and increased blood clotting.) Given that people take omega-3s for the opposite effect, this is a terrible finding!


Dr. Eades suggests two solutions for avoiding rancid fish oils: biting and chewing the capsule to make sure it isn’t rancid (yuck!), and taking liquid fish oil (double yuck!) Unfortunately, the New Zealand research team suggests that this isn’t enough, nor is smelling for a fishy odor, because after an initial period of rancidity where the increase of fishy flavors and odors occurs, the oil continues to oxidize but the odors and flavors return to neutral. Some experts suggest eating more fatty fish, something I thought could be a decent solution for some for quite some time until I began to really look at mercury studies in seafood. Mercury is present in wild caught fish and shellfish, sometimes in alarming levels. Even in the fish that have lower levels of mercury, however, you are still ingesting small amounts of a highly toxic substance that can cause impaired neurological development, poor fetal development, neurological damage, cognitive impairment, attention and learning disorders, and many others. Because of these findings, I cannot recommend fish as a good source of omega-3 fats. Instead, I recommend eating a plant-based diet and including plant foods rich in natural omega-3 fats, including:

  • Acai
  • Chia seeds
  • Raw walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Leafy green vegetables

Minimizing processed foods and cooking oils (other than coconut oil), especially polyunsaturated vegetable oils which are high in omega-6s and are ubiquitous in processed foods (soybean oil, cottonseed oil, etc.). Margarine is definitely a huge no-no! Eating a whole-food, non-processed plant-based diet can help you lower your levels of omega-6 fats and increase levels of omega-3s, which will provide a better balance of the two types of essential fatty acids. Plant-based forms of omega 3 fatty acids convert to DHA and EPA in body. Some findings show that this conversion may be compromised in some people, so if supplementation is sought after the form I recommend is an algae-based DHA supplement. Where do the fish get their DHA? From the algae they eat! You can go right to the primary source by finding an algae DHA supplement rather than consuming potentially rancid fish oil. My Beauty Detox Solution diet is a great way to balance the two fatty acids, keeping you healthy and beautiful without the rancid fish burps.



Last updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016
  • Kelsey

    What brand of supplement would you recommend?

    • Doug Robinson

      USANA Health Sciences, BiOmega™. You will find it at my website.

      BiOmega contains an additional dose of vitamin D, a nutrient found deficient in the average diet. BiOmega is also formulated with lemon oil to kill the fishy aftertaste found in other fish oil supplements. Because of its exclusive advantages, when you buy BiOmega, you know you’re getting quite the catch!

      Pharmaceutical Quality


    • martin

      the best way to get omega 3 and you really do need it is from Nuique. they make the unique algae based capsules at high strength. natural, vegan, no toxins, no mercury no fish oil. Fish get their omega 3 from fish oil – this company is brilliant. goos product!

  • jackie

    Oh my! I was looking into buying fish oil supplements right before I read this! Thanks for always being so informative Kim!

    What brands for skin care/makeup/hair care do you recommend other than Sally B’s? I have used some Sally B products (and loved them!!) but I would like to have more shopping options for safe/organic cosmetics. I really value your opinion, and I would love to hear some other brands you suggest!

    Thanks for reading! You’re such an inspiration!!

    • Marina

      Yes carrot, Burt bees, and organic wear.But Sally B is best, but the one I mention are affordable rate.

  • Bernadette

    Hi Kimberly,

    Which algae-based DHA supplement do you recommend and where can I find it?

  • Marina

    I don’t take fish oil, but I take cod liver oil (guilty)mostly for Vit D. Since there is not much sunlight and not many veggie that I know have it.I do not take it in the summer time.I use chia seeds some time.But is their any vit D food that you can suggest.As for Vit A, I found a lot. My conclusion to all this is maybe cod liver oil is not good either then.

  • Pamela

    So, I am assuming if you have a #GGS in the morning, this will help get enough of the proper EFA?

    Wow — this is so tough to figure out without a biology degree!

  • Emilia

    Fish oil burps – so gross!

    What symptoms can be an indicator for an imbalanced omega fats intake?

  • shannonmarie (rawdorable)

    I’ve always thought fish oil capsules were just plain gross. I’d much rather have acai, chia, flax, walnuts and/or dark leafy greens.

  • Joy

    Your blog is great and always very informative!

    But two quick things I want to point out. Cheap and rancid fish oils can produce fishy burps, but not high quality brands like Ascenta (here in Canada) or Genuine Health – making it important for one to do research.

    Also, the fishy burps are not always related to rancidity. In fact, if someone is burping it can also be due to poor fatty acid digestion/absorption — a liver/gall bladder issue.

    It is important when buying a fish oil supplement to make sure it contains vitamin E or green tea extract, both work as antioxidants to combat oxidation. Of course keeping them in the fridge is key as well.

    • Robin

      Joy – I agree with your assessment of the ‘burp” effect. I have recently shared my “Vital Choice”
      (no affiliation) Sockeye Salmon oil with a friend. He burps it- I do not. The oil is not rancid.

  • Emily

    Great information – is there a brand of algae based dha that you recommend?

  • Bri Carrera

    New Chapter supplements are great- all from whole food sources. Their Fish Oil supplement contains 17 Whole Omega’s including 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9’s from 100% WILD caught Alaskan Salmon (not farmed!). Natural antioxidants. No chemical processing. NO FISH BURP!

  • Courtney

    I have psoriatic arthritis (an inflammatory auto-immune disease) and high, HIGH dose fish oil is one nutritional method often recommended in the literature. So I’ve done it–and found that it helped A LOT! But…

    Problems, like you said, are the fish burps, contaminants (like mercury) and rancidity. At my highest dose I was taking nearly 8 grams a day (btwn 8-12 pills/day dependent on brand). I DID think about taking it in oil form b/c of the high cost of taking it in bulk. YUCK!!!

    More recently I have switched to an alternative (based on reading many research studies on the subject), of which I wanted to ask your opinion and share with your readers that may still be looking for a pill (if you don’t mind of course).

    KRILL oil–krill are those small crustaceans (like shrimp) that live in the arctic and are eaten in mass by whales. They do not give you fish burps at all, have little potential to contain contaminants because they’re so small, have far less chance to become rancid (although I can’t recall why), and according to what I’ve read are more “bio-available” so don’t require such high doses for the same effect. I take ‘Neptune Krill Oil’ which is proprietary, but I am not associated with that company at all.

    Anyway, do you have an opinion about krill oil? I know it doesn’t address the balance of omega-3 to 6 that your focused on in this post, but I do supplement with the 3s because of my own research…and I do drink your green juice regularly.

    [Also for those that are taking fish oil, IMHO it’s a good idea to always get pharmaceutical-grade fish oil AND source it through the IFOS (international fish oil standards) organization–they provide independent 3rd-party testing of most reputable brands.]

    • jade

      Hi Courtney,

      This is good to know. I suffer from psoriasis as well, although not the arthritic type, but a high dosage of fish oil is still recommended for treatment as well. I’m going to try Kim’s suggestion of algae form of DHA but this is good information to keep in my files.


  • sheila maniam-seiler

    Hi Kimberly,

    How about Prograde EFA icon supplements? It has both Omega 3 bonded to Phospholipids & Omega 6, Vit A and is derived from Antartic Krill which feeds on algae. I take these at present, however, an algae based supplement sounds even better!


  • kristen

    what about krill oil ?

  • Sandra Tomek

    Is Spirulina a good source of Omegas 3 and 6? I buy the powdered variety from Hawaii.

  • jenny

    Good to know! I’d much rather get my nutrients from food than supplements. Thanks Kim!

    • Kimberly Snyder

      Glad you loved the post Jenny!

  • Julia

    Hi Kimberly,

    The gluten free rice bread I buy contains whole brown rice (not organic), rice flour, rice leaven, sunflower oil, salt, water. Ok??

    Also, have been following your book for almost 4 months. I started with blossoming beauty, then did radiant beauty with GGS for breakfast. I found that with re-introducing sweet fruit, my sugar cravings became very intense again. Do you think it sounds like I still have a candida issue? I’ve switched back to having greens & raw rolled oat cereal for breakfast. This does help with lowering my cravings, but sugar seems to be the only bad thing I can’t kick. How long do you think I should stay on blossoming beauty? I’m very keen to get back to having GGS & am saving for vitamix! Also, I have high copper levels – any suggestions for lowering this? Thank you very much. Julia xx

  • Sarah

    What about Flaxseed Oil? For the past year, I have been adding ground flaxseed to my daily GGS, but I’ve been also taking Flaxseed supplements nightly for over a decade (recommended by my GYN for menstrual cramps – decreases prostaglandin synthesis).

  • barbara

    True regular Fish oil is not safe instead use ,this is very common in Europe,
    Krill Oil.Krill are very tiny deepwater crustaceans at the bottom of the food chain
    completely free of unhealthy Toxins and pollution .
    Krill will increase your EPA and DHA Levels and is safe an effective.
    There is no fishy after taste

  • Liset

    Hello Kimberly,

    I heard that algae-based DHA supplements may be processed with hexane (crude oil) and also bleach. Please let me know which algae-based DHA supplement is void of the above process. Thank you!

  • Lina

    So then, what do you think about the oils from Udo Erasmus? Are they recommendable?

  • helen

    Hi Kim,

    wow! I didn’t know about it! thank you for this great post.
    I was taking omega 3 supplements for improving the mood but I’m going
    to stop that right away.

    I just have some little questions:
    In fact, if I follow bds plan, radiant beauty phase, and I am taking chia seeds almost every day, so do I get enought omega3?

    I can’t find acai berries where I live but I just found, in a health store, organic Acai powder. Can this be a good solution for replacing the real berries?
    Those days, I’m mixing almond milk, chia seeds, acai powder, and a little spoon of bee pollen in a shake, and have that in the afternoon… do you think it’s a good snack for the afternoon or the evening?

    And also, can I eat chia seeds or flaxseeds in the morning or I only have to eat them later in the day?

    thank’s for everything,
    I love you so much for all you’re doing! you’re fantastic!

  • Cindy, Jan 20, 8:00 a.m.

    Kimberly, which algae based DHA would you reccommend? I have been taking a GNC brand of ftsh oil for several years now and would like to make the switch to DHA now that you have provided this great information. I am addicted to following all of your tips and advice and especially the GGS. I am totally committed to taking better care of this one body GOD has given me and I have you to thank for this change in my outlook on my body,soul and mind!!! You are AMAZING!! Much love and health, Cindy

  • Christina

    Dear Kimberly

    I have recently read your book and as soon as I did my eyes opened to a lot of truths I didn’t know. So I was very eager to start cleaning me out and to get healthy, I quit smoking , stop drinking coffee and follow your recipes actually I am in the radiant beauty phase and I am using a good probiotic and after 2 weeks I have yet to see results…. specifically weight loss Nothing not even a pound. :-((
    and another thing I am not clearing out anything my situation seems more like I am constipated rather then cleansing even more then before starting If you can please respond I will appreciate your attention because I am getting very frustrated…. am I doing something wrong??????
    I know you talk alot about mag07 and I am willing to order it online but shipping takes almost 3 weeks because i live in quebec and not the states.

    I am anxiously waiting for your response
    Thank you so much

  • Marisol

    Hello Kimberly,

    I found your blog and purchased your book. I loved it!!!!!! I started doing the Green Smoothie, and already feel better. Dont know if i;ll be able to give up eating Meat completely, but since today is the beginning of Lent, i decided to stat by given up Red Meat for this period. keep up the work and writing wonderful a and healthy articles.



  • jade

    This is an awesome post, Kimberly! I’ve been wondering about this subject for a while and since you had been mentioning the benefits of chia, I’ve been uping the qty of that in my diet and stopped taking my fish oil supplements.

    I have been doing the GGS for a long time now and saw some benefit, but found that when I added having salads for lunch and dinner I really saw the biggest difference. I also thought I’d kicked dairy completely but it creeped back in and I’ve sent it to the curb and am substituting w/ goat milk. Of all this, I’m most excited by the fact that I’m finally making headway on sugar. It’s been a nightmare for me. I’m one that when the sun goes down I crave dessert, i.e. cupcakes, etc. This week I haven’t had any.

    Thanks again for this article. I quit taking the fish supplements a while ago and it confirmed that it was a good decision.

  • Nicole

    Hola Kim :-)

    Can you please post the recipe for your Puerto Rican style GGS?

    Muchas gracias!

  • Angie

    My question is regarding the unpasteurised miso paste. There seem to be so many of them at my health food store. For example, there are some called “unpasteurised miso paste” made with organic brown rice, organic soya beans, neatural sea salt and koji startes”. Will that one be ok to use to make the probiotic enzyme salad?

  • Willa

    First of all I love your book and I am basically obsessed with your blog!
    I developed a huge intrest in nutrition after I’ve visited the states several times bc as an european gal I was really shocked that when it came to food a lot of things were higher in fat and sugar and frankly served in huge amounts. So I’ve started to observe my own habits and became a lot more aware of what I was eating.

    For me it wasn’t about wanting to make a change, I’ve rather been gathering information (for example) until a point where I was preparing dinner and I couldn’t make me eat it bc the thought of eating meat disgusted me. So ‘restriction’ has never been a topic for me, it just happend very natural. Except for cheese. I seriously can’t help it.

    Until I read your book I’ve been though so many other books, blogs, magazines and every possible source of information picking out the parts that seemed to be the voice of reason. The Beauty Detox Solution has been the first book that made sense to me from start to finish and it helped me to adjust the things in my diet which hasn’t been fixed already.

    Still theres the cheese problem. Its not like I am eating a pound of cheddar in the morning (even though sometimes I feel like I could) but now and then I enjoy some fresh parmigiano reggiano sprinkled over a salad or I am making sliced courgette with a parmesan sauce (including round about 25gramm of cheese). So I’ve been wondering how ‘bad’ parmesan overall really is compared to a rather fat and soft goat/cow cheese? I really don’t feel a difference when I am eating it and if its just a few sprinkles on my salad am I ‘cheating my body’?

    I would love to get a response!
    I am really sorry if my english sucks now and then!
    Greetings from Germany

  • Lisa Kaminski

    All great info in this blog post and in the comments…I love how these communities can help us learn more!

    I love Arbonne’s Omega-3s…they are all vegan and contain all the great ingredients that Kim recommends as sources for healthy and effective Omega 3s.

    Some other things that can help us stay detoxed include Arbonne’s Daily Detox Tea, our 7-day cleanse, and our Essential supplements!

    They are worth checking out…especially if you want VEGAN, Swiss-formulated products that have NO artificial sweeteners or dyes.

  • Julia

    Hi Kimberly,

    thanks for this tip. here’s my question/problem. I started giving my son (now 11) fish oil supplements 4 years ago when we were trying to ascertain if he was ADD. he has many, many food and environmental alleriges, one of which is shellfish and fish. So he’s very deficient in omega’s. Naturally, he’s a kid so a picky eater and giving him more greens isn’t going to fly. So we were told to try this and I tell you, within 6 months his performance at school improved dramatically. This, alongside a couple other dietary changes (reducing sugar and carbs). Plus his eczema improved too. I don’t like what I”m hearing here about the Omega supplements but don’t know what my options are for him who cannot have nuts and won’t eat leafy greens. So if you have a brand of Omega’s you know that is safe, please share! Thanks!

    • Irena

      Great alternative would be Clary sage capsules with omega3 and shelf life 2 years without rancidity. Problem – expensive and I think available only from one company from Israel.
      I would never take fish oil capsules for multiple reasons (namely heavy metals in fish and rancidity).

    • Hapycurls

      My husband had been taking fish oil tablets but cannot tolerate the fish burp any longer (even the ones that claim to be burpless). Been on the hunt for a chewable to solve the problem (which is how I stumbled upon this blog!). There are chewables for kids so that might be a good solution for your son. BioGlan is a brand I’ve seen. I would try a Google search, Amazon and Good luck!

  • LJ

    Fish oil cured my severe hormonal cystic acne. I tried switching to flaxseed and it didn’t work. The only time I’ve ever had a problem with fishy burps is once when I bought a cheap unknown brand from the 99 cent store (gross). I did research online and only use two recommended top brands and I’ve never had a problem with rancid product or fish odors otherwise.

    I will add that I have been loosely following your eating plan (haven’t finished the book yet) and noticed that I didn’t get one cyst this month even though I forgot to take my fish oil during my cycle (usually if I take it starting a few days before my cycle begins thru the end of it I get no cysts, if I don’t , I get up to 10+ cystic pimples during my cycle). This month I didn’t get one, and I also had a 90% reduction in the usual severe cramping and nausea during my menstrual cycle. I’m attributing this to the changes I’ve made in my diet over the past 2 months. Wow!

  • Bill

    I have a few questions.
    1. New fish oil capsules contain enteric coating or Triglyceride that eliminates fish burps by delaying the absorption or digestion of pill in small intestines. Is this okay?
    2. Omega-3 oil are highly susceptible to oxidation. Foods such as fish or leafy vegetables, when cooked, does the omega-3 become oxidized?
    3. Are Omega-3 Fish Oil prevented from oxidation?

  • BlissfulWriter

    Previously, I believed in taking fish oil supplements capsule form. When I learned about the oxidized capsules, I switched to liquid form which I kept in my refrigerator. But still, they did not have it in the refrigerator at the store. And they can get oxidized sitting there. Now I no longer believe in them as much. Cold water fish has a lot of omega-3 DHA and EPA because they are within a cold-blooded animal in a cold environment. This is fine. However, humans are warm-blooded animals in a warm environment.

    Now I believe in eating wild fish instead. If they are frozen right after they are caught or kept refrigerated and eaten right away, this gives less chance for their oil from going bad. I’m not too concerned about the mercury, because the selenium within the fish neutralizes it. And most fish has more selenium than mercury.

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  • Dave S

    Two huge cautions – – those men who think they might be at risk for prostate cancer should NEVER consume a flaxseed product. Men, in particular, do a very poor job of converting the ALA in flax into DHA and EPA plus there is plenty of evidence that shows that men who already have prostate cancer can have it spread more rapidly from the consumption of ALA from flax. Also, although Vitamin E is, indeed, good – – for men who already have prostate cancer Vitamin E can make it much more aggressive. A good krill oil is an alternative since krill does not require Vitamin E as a preservative (as does fish oil).

    • Jake

      This exactly. Krill oil is an excellent source of O3, plus it’s a phospholipid which makes it easier for your body to use. Other good sources of O3s are grass fed beef and butter from grass fed cows. Also, don’t be too alarmed about getting O3s from fish because fish is high in selenium which protects against mercury.

    • kevin

      An FYI about vitamin E is that there was a study done with three large groups of men with similar degrees of prostate cancer. One was a control group, one got Vitamin E in plant form (leafy greens which keep in mind would already cause some benefit) and the other group got it through a suppliment. After I believe 6 months (I don’t know where the study is, Haven’t looked, although I believe I read it in The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf) the control group had no benefit (no surprise), the the vitamin E from plants had reduced prostate cancer (also no surprise), BUT the one that took the vitamine E synthetically had an increased degree of prostate cancer. That is a surprise because you would think that the suppliments would help but they did the opposite. So you warned about vitamine E making prostate cancer more agressive, but make sure you know where that vitamine E is coming from.

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  • katy

    Vegan sources are not the better. In fact, they are only converted if you have a healthy gut and the percentage is 2-15% (if you are healthy). Fish (fresh) is already converted and therefore is absorbed. If you are worried about contamination Pastured EGGs and BUTTER are the best.

    • katy

      Vegan sources are not the better choice. *
      I forgot to mention, combing vegan sources (like leafy greens) with pastured eggs or butter helps the conversion.

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  • Ellie Wilson

    No one has mentioned the fact that krill oil is having a devastating effect on the wales who feed on them. We are basically starving the fish that feed on them cos of how krill oil taken off. Did no one see hughs fish fight?

  • Mayra

    I researched for good fish oil product and I think that this is an excellent option, expensive, but tested :-)
    I think that there are great fish oil supplements, but you need to make a research about those!! Plus, avoid buying the cheap ones and that haven’t been tested and that don’t show all their information(content facts and that don’t answer your questions properly) I found this and it looks decent by their buyers feedback and questions/forum
    I bought this because the following:

    Burp-free, enteric-coating
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    Independently Certified 5-Star Rating by IFOS for Purity, Potency and Freshness
    Gently purified by Heat-Free CO2 Extraction