Fish Oil Hype: Don’t Waste Your Money

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

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Something’s fishy… 

No two fish oils are created equal. Fish oil and “Omega 3’s” have been all the rage in health news and buzz over the past several years. Like a multivitamin or probiotics, fish oil and omegas are just some of those things we should take for good health right?Fish oil, also known as Omega-3’s, is composed of two essential fatty acids our bodies cannot produce on their own:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and;
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

[Note: These fatty acids are found in foods like cold-water fish and supplements. Some grass-fed beef, walnuts, algae and egg yolks also contain them]. 

Reported side effects of Omega-3 supplementation include:

  • Growth and development (particularly in children)
  • Enhanced brain function and mental clarity
  • Ant-inflammation
  • Elevated mood
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Normal eye function
  • Healthy aging
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Workout recovery and performance

With all these wonderful health benefits, taking a fish oil seems like a no-brainer then, right? Especially, if you are the LEAST concerned about your health…Don’t think so fast.


Fish Oil

Just like organic Mac & Cheese at Whole Foods, ‘gluten-free’ Cocoa Puffs, and Shake Weights do not equal the full picture of health…Nor does popping a fish oil.

In fact, if you take a fish oil regularly, you may NOT be getting all the benefits you THINK you are getting from it…

Most Fish Oils=Highly Processed

You already know that hydrogenated oils (i.e. highly processed and refined-food oils) like canola, corn, soybean oils are not good for you. Once they hit the bottle after the refining process, they’ve already been damaged to a great degree—making them more “shelf stable”, and chemically altering them to keep foods like your Twinkies, granola bars and Fruity Pebbles “fresh” longer.

Well, the same goes for most fish oils.

They are refined foods. Most fish oil omega-3’s are created to sit on shelves for months, if not years. In order to make it to capsule or pill form, fish oils undergo a refining and heating process that actually breaks down many of the beneficial fatty acids from the cold-water fish sourced oils in the fist place.

What you see is NOT what you get. Couple this with the standard packaging and handling process—like most pills and foods, and by the time that fish oil arrives to your mouth, you have an already-damaged, rancid (highly processed and broken down) oil. Thus, you  are ONLY getting a hint (if any) of the Omega-3’s that that fish oil bottle claims it HAD in the first place.

The Real Problem with Fish Oil

Rancidity. With a vast majority of heated and processed fish oils on shelves, many of our formulas are damaged and rancid when we get them. Consuming rancid oils causes MORE oxidative stress in our body (not less, like our fish oil bottles’ claim). In layman’s terms? Inflammation. When we consume damaged and highly-heated oils, this is inflammatory to our bodies.

But Don’t I Need Omega-3’s?!

Yes you do need EPA and DHA-your body cannot produce these. Our bodies DO benefit from these essential fatty acids for all the positive side effects noted initially (i.e. fighting inflammation, brain function, enhanced digestion, energy, muscle repair and recovery)…However, contrary to popular belief not all fish oils have the listed dose in their bottles. Thus, these positives are negated if the fish oil is not a quality fish oil.

So What Do I Choose?!

It all comes down to choosing a quality formula or, ideally, eating foods with Omega-3’s.

Best Sources Omega-3’s

  • Consume cold-water, fatty fish (wild-caught salmon) 2-3 times per week
  • Wild canned sardines (BPA-free can)
  • Grass-fed Beef and pasture-raised eggs
  • Fermented cod liver oil (has not been as processed, kept cold, and contains fat soluble vitamins A & D)
  • Krill oil is another higher-quality source of ‘fish oil’ that is

If you do buy fish oil, buy the freshest products you can find.

Some tips for choosing a quality fish oil include:

  • Consider buying directly from a reputable manufacturer (this offers the advantage of minimizing storage and transport time/scenarios).
  • Request the Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the manufacturer before you buy their product. [Note: A COA is an analysis conducted by an independent lab to verify the ingredients of a product and confirm whether it actually meets the claims made by the manufacturer].
  • Take your fish oil with vitamin E (known to help reduce oxidation and aid in absorption within the body(.
  • Refrigerate fish oil supplements to prolong freshness, but use them up in a timely manner.

The bottom line? Don’t fall for clever marketing and what you see is NOT always what you get.

Here are some quality recommendations for ya:

Thorne Super EPA Pro 

Green Pasture’s Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Viva Labs Krill Oil

Nutrigold Krill Oil

Rosita’s Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil

Vital Choice Salmon Oil 

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The Best Choice of Them All?

REAL cold-water, wild-caught fish! (Like my simple salmon recipe below!)

Simple Salmon

  • 1-2 wild-caught salmon filets (Coho, Sockeye, Alaskan–you choose)
  • Sea salt & pepper, to taste
  • Lemon
  • Optional: Coconut flour + herbs of choice (thyme, rosemary, sage)

Heat pan on medium heat with coconut oil or ghee. Place salmon in pan and season with lemon, sea salt, pepper and optional coconut flour/herbs. Cook on one side until pink flesh fades, then flip. Both sides take about 3-4 minutes each. Squeeze a bit more lemon if you like when finished. Add alongside veggies of choice or toss in a salad. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!


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