Fish Oil vs. Omega-3: What’s The Best Supplement?

Fish oil is the concentrated and purified oil from—you guessed it—the tissue of oily fish. There are a variety of forms this fat can be delivered in based on how the fish oil is processed. (By “form,” we mean the type or chemical structure of the omega-3 fats.)

The main forms are triglyceride, ethyl ester, and phospholipid. The native form of fat is triglyceride for fish and humans. It’s also the most bioavailable form (i.e., more easily absorbed and accessible to your cells).* 

“For fish oil, the triglyceride form is where it’s at,” Ferira shares. “The triglyceride form is how marine omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in the fat of the fish—and how we consume and absorb fat in our diet. In other words, it’s the form found in nature and native to the fish.”

Fish oil comes from many types of fish—including salmon, anchovies, tuna, sardines, herring, and mackerel. Cording recommends choosing fish oil derived from a thin fish (such as anchovies or sardines), as those are less likely to have high levels of mercury and other metals than bigger fish. Ferira explains that, of course, this is not a concern when taking top-notch fish oil, as “high-quality fish oil products are highly purified to achieve negligible trace levels of contaminants like heavy metals.”

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