Supplementing with Omega-3's - A Price and Quality Comparison among Popular Brands (fish and algae)

Omega-3 Pills

Reading Time - 10 Minutes

We’ve covered all the different aspects of omega-3’s and their health benefits in this recent nutrient review. If you’d like to learn more about Omega-3’s before making a purchasing decision, read that Omega-3 nutrient review first, and then come back here.

To summarize, Omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary and incredibly important fatty acid needed throughout the body, from the cardiovascular system to the brain. The two main important types of Omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA is known to be essential for pre- and postnatal brain development (1). EPA is more influential on behavior and mood (1). The higher your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, the better (2). As far as we’ve studied it’s very difficult to achieve a high Omega-3 to Omega-6 (such as 1:1) ratio, and it’d be currently impossible to consume a diet dangerously rich in Omega-3’s (over 10:1 possibly). A seafood heavy diet that minimizes Omega-6 is the best way to ensure a good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, and for those that might find that difficult, one way to improve your intake of Omega-3’s is through supplementation.

Omega-3 supplementation comes in two forms, pills and liquid. The table below just presents the data for the pills, as the liquid options are overpriced and lowish in purity. This buyers guide will focus on Omega-3 supplementation via pills, but the full database with liquid information can be downloaded here (triggers download). Fish oil and algae (vegan friendly) Omega-3 supplements are discussed below.

Omega-3 Buyer’s Database

There are various levels of purity with Omega-3 pills, purity being defined as the amount of Omega-3’s to fish oil. Some pills, such as the offerings from Costco, Amazon, True Nutrition, Thrive Market, and Optimum Nutrition, all have the same ratio of total Omega-3’s to fish oil, 3:10, requiring more non-desirable fish oil to be taken for each gram of EPA+DHA. Offerings from smaller supplement companies such as Nature’s Bounty, Biotest, and Nordic Naturals have much higher Omega-3 to fish oil ratios from 5:10 to even pills exclusively containing Omega-3 fatty acids.

The less pure pills from Costco and Amazon of course have by far the lowest price per 100 mg of Omega-3 ($0.011 Costco, $0.013 Amazon). Remember we’re going after EPA and DHA here. Since the Omega-3’s from those pills are 100% EPA+DHA, the price for 100 mg of EPA+DHA is the same at $0.011 for Costco and $0.013 for Amazon. The high quality Omega-3 supplement manufacturers such as Nordic Naturals and Biotest have achieved a pill with perfect purity, and this accomplishment comes at a price, with the price per 100 mg of Omega-3’s coming in at $0.059 for Nordic Naturals and $0.052 for Biotest. The price per 100 mg of EPA+DHA suffers the same fate here, with Nordic Naturals at $0.06 and Biotest at $0.052.

If you’re concerned with the quality of the fish oils, then you’ll have a pay a price for purity, but you also receive the added benefit of only having to take 1-2 pills to receive the amount of DHA and EPA that you desire instead of 6-10 pills. If you’re targeting the recommended 2-3 grams of EPA+DHA daily, then you’re taking anywhere from 7 to 10 fish oils pills everyday. For some people like myself this is easy to do, grab a glass of water and chug them down. For those who struggle to take pills, the higher purity manufacturers are the only way to achieve that daily target of 2-3 grams.

Omega-3 Pills Price Per Bottle Servings Total Omega-3's (mg) DHA (mg) EPA (mg) DHA/EPA Ratio $ per 100g Omega-3's $ per 100 mg EPA+DHA Omega-3 to Fish Oil Ratio
Kirkland Signature Fish Oil 1000 mg $12.89 400 300 120 180 0.67 0.011 0.011 0.3
Amazon Brand - Solimo Fish Oil 1000 mg $10.11 250 300 120 180 0.67 $0.013 $0.013 0.3
True Nutrition Fish Oil Complex 1000 mg $10.38 250 300 120 180 0.67 $0.014 $0.014 0.3
Trader Joes's Omega-3 1200 mg Fish Oil $8.99 (store price) 90 600 200 400 0.5 $0.017 $0.017 0.5
Nature's Bounty 1400 mg Fish Oil $25.95 130 980 253 647 0.39 $0.02 $0.022 0.7
Thrive Market Fish Oil 1000 mg $17.99 240 300 120 180 0.67 $0.025 $0.025 0.3
Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil 1000 mg Soft gels $19.99 200 300 120 180 0.67 $0.033 $0.033 0.3
Testa Algae Oil Omega-3 DHA $12.95 60 450 250 125** 2.0 $0.048 $0.058 0.41
Biotest Flameout $34.95 22 3080 2200 880 2.5 $0.052 $0.052 0.67
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omeaga 1280 mg $59.46 90 1280 450 650 0.69 $0.052 $0.06 1

The Company Makes A Difference

The other information I take into account for my purchasing decision to get the most high quality Omega-3’s for my dollar are the companies themselves. It’s clear based on the identical stats of the fish oil that large established companies Costco, Amazon, True Nutrition, Thrive Market, and Optimum Nutrition use that they all have the same supplier. Smaller players like Optimum Nutrition and Thrive Market are only capable of selling their 100 mg of fish oil at $0.033 and $0.025 respectively (again compared to $0.011 for Costco and $0.013 for Amazon), Costco and Amazon worked out better deals with the fish oil supplier.

Note - It’s surprising True Nutriton, one of my favorite supplement companies, was able to work out a price of $0.014 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA, and that’s great. Use the code WILDFREE15 for saving of up to 10% on True Nutrition.

My thoughts are that such a large supplier, capable to fulfilling orders for Costco valued at $95 billion dollars and Amazon at $840 billion dollars will have loads of quality control testing procedures and regulations. While this large suppliers fish oil might not be as pure in Omega-3’s as Nordic Naturals, the Omega-3’s and fish oil is still high quality. The amount of nonobjective fish oil that you ingest from taking 3 grams of EPA+DHA at a 0.3 Omega-3 to fish oil ratio is 7 grams, or 63 calories. For a 2500 calorie diet, that is only 2.5% of your daily calories. For a 4000 calorie diet such as mine, it’s only 1.5% of my daily calories.

The rest of your dietary intake from unprocessed healthy foods such as vegetables, meats, seafood, nuts, fruits, beans, lentils, and more easily outweigh any potential effect the extra fish oil has on your healthy fat consumption (polyunsaturated to monounsaturated fat ratio). Fish oil in fact is only 25% polyunsaturated fat, being also 50% monounsaturated fat and 25% saturated fat. That’s a better poly to monounsaturated ratio in-fact than peanut (33% polyunsaturated) and flaxseed oil (73% polyunsaturated), both healthy oils in moderation.

Final Omega-3 Supplement Buying Recommendations

Best Overall Omega-3 Pill

 
Fish Oil pills in shape of a Fish

With all that in mind, my recommendation for Omega-3 supplementation via pills is to use the lowest cost per 100 mg of EPA+DHA fish oil supplement sold via Costco, Kirkland Signature’s Fish Oil 1000 mg. Costco is known to have some of the best food and product testing in the business, and for that reason I trust the quality of their fish oil.

 

On the bottle it is stated that their fish oil is sustainably sourced from deep ocean water fish, specifically anchovy and sardines from Peru, and then encapsulated and quality tested in the U.S.A. If you don’t have a Costco membership then your next best bet is Amazon’s Amazon Brand - Solimo Fish Oil 1000 mg at $0.013 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA or True Nutriton’s Omega-3 Complex 1000 mg at $0.014 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA.

Best Overall Omega-3 Pill

With all that in mind, my recommendation for Omega-3 supplementation via pills is to use the lowest cost per 100 mg of EPA+DHA fish oil supplement sold via Costco, Kirkland Signature’s Fish Oil 1000 mg. Costco is known to have some of the best food and product testing in the business, and for that reason I trust the quality of their fish oil. On the bottle it is stated that their fish oil is sustainably sourced from deep ocean water fish, specifically anchovy and sardines from Peru, and then encapsulated and quality tested in the U.S.A. If you don’t have a Costco membership then your next best bet is Amazon’s Amazon Brand - Solimo Fish Oil 1000 mg at $0.013 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA or True Nutriton’s Omega-3 Complex 1000 mg at $0.014 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA.

Best Purity To Cost Omega-3 Pill

If you have problems swallowing pills or require the best purity Omega-3 supplement, then I recommend Nature’s Bounty 1400 mg Fish Oil. At $0.022 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA and a EPA+DHA to total Omega-3 ratio of 0.7:1, it’s the best blend of cost and purity.

Best Purity Omega-3 Pill

If you require 100% pure Omega-3 then you’ll pay a premium for Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega 1280 mg at $0.06 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA. Only containing 100% pure Omega-3’s this pills is well suited for the ultimate health and wellness gurus or elite athletes.

Highest DHA Specific Omega-3 Pill

If you’re specifically looking for a high DHA pill, Biotest’s Flameout is your best bet, with an insane DHA to EPA ratio of 2.5:1. The average DHA to EPA ratio for the other pills is 0.63:1. According to one study, EPA is converted to DHA at a higher ratio in women then men (3), so a higher DHA supplement might be preferable for men according to Biotest. You’re best DHA value still lies with the Kirkland Signature Fish Oil 1000 mg, at $0.027 per 100 mg of DHA, and Biotest’s Flameout at $0.072 per 100 mg DHA.

Best Algae (vegan) Omega-3 Supplement

 
Algae

Overall the market for vegan-friendly algae based Omega-3’s is small, and many manufacturers carry algae Omega-3 supplements, but they are frequently out of stock. Expect to pay a premium here, and currently the only reason you would buy an algae Omega-3 supplement is to not have an impact on animal suffering. Vegan algae Omega-3 supplements are not healthier than fish oil Omega-3 supplements. The best overall algae Omega-3 supplement is Algae Oil Omega-3 DHA by Testa. With a price of $0.086 per 100 mg of EPA+DHA, it is the cheapest of the algae options, with okay, also containing sunflower oil. High-oleic or extra virgin olive oil would have been a slightly healthier but more expensive choice.

 

**Testa actually has two algae Omega-3 supplements, with one of them only containing DHA and the other containing EPA+DHA. Interestingly enough, They have the same total number of Omega-3’s, and I have a hunch their EPA+DHA option is $7.50 more expensive per bottle because they can justify the price increase with the extra 125 mg of epa. Overall their margins on that product are high, so they appeal to the lower cost customer and reduce their margins with their DHA oil, which likely contains the same amount of EPA as it comes from the same supplier. They have to show the customer a reason it’s less expensive though, so they simply don’t tell the customer they are also receiving 125 mg of EPA. It is for this reason I only recommend buying their Algae Oil Omega-3 DHA as it is the best way to reduce your price per 100 mg of EPA+DHA. To view this for yourself download my complete Omega-3 Supplement Buyer’s Guide Database below.

Note - All prices gathered from the supplement manufacturers websites or Amazon. Possible shipping charges and taxes not taken into account, though this won’t change the costs significantly.

To view the full data set I created and analyzed to come to these conclusions, download my Omega-3 Supplement Buyer’s Guide Database using the button below:

The Wild Free Organic Promise

Here at Wild Free Organic our mission is to present only the most unbiased nutrition, health, and wellness information. The truth is always first and foremost our priority, and we also aim to be the last article you read on a subject, no more hunting for the truth! If you’d like to receive exclusive access to our content before it is published, subscribe to Wild Free Organic’s email newsletter!

 

 
 

Stefan Burns

Stefan Burns is the creator and main author of Wild Free Organic. A swimmer in high school, soon afterwards he discovered a passion for the health, wellness, and fitness fields. Stefan is a jack of all trades, expertly knowing how to use all the different wellness “tools” available to radically and permanently transform one’s health, from fasting and sauna usage to calisthenics and powerlifting.

To learn more about Stefan Burns visit his website or follow him on Instagram @stefanburnswellness.