How to Avoid Fish Oil Burps: Omega-3 Supplement Tips
Published: March 2023
There’s a supplement you can take to power and protect both your heart and mind? Sounds fishy, but it’s true! One of the easiest ways to support your brain and heart health—even if you are eating the recommended two servings a week of fatty fish—is by taking a quality omega-3 fish oil supplement.
A premium fish oil supplement with a balance of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can help give your heart and mind the support and antioxidant protection they need. Omega-3 fatty acids also support longevity and whole-body well-being. And studies show these fatty acids help encourage a healthy inflammatory response.
But when the fish oil that goes down comes back up in the form of a fishy-tasting burp, you might be tempted to re-think your daily dose. Thankfully, there are ways to keep a lid on that fishy aftertaste.
What are fish oil burps?
A burp of any kind is something that everyone, including the tiniest of infants, has experienced. Minutes or even hours after a meal, your stomach starts sending signals that it is in full-digestion mode with burps that taste of what you’ve eaten—and not in a good way. Be it onions, broccoli, garlic or, yes, fish oil, these burps don’t taste anywhere near as good on the way up as they did on the way down. A fish burp is sometimes referred to as the “aftertaste” from a fish oil supplement.
Why does fish oil make you burp?
A few burps after eating is a normal part of digestion. Burps release air from the stomach to prevent it from overinflating. So we burp to release the gas produced by normal digestion, to release the air we swallow along with our food and drinks, and to vent the carbonation from sodas and other drinks.
You might have heard that fish oil burps mean that the fish oil supplement is rancid, but that is false. Burps are a natural part of the digestive process, and burping does not indicate poor fish oil quality.
Do fish oil burps go away?
If you are trying to break free of fish burps while getting your heart healthy omega-3s, you have several options.
- Switch up your supplement delivery form. Fish oil supplements come in a variety of forms, from omega-3 gummies and drinkable oils to fish oil capsules and softgels. You may find one form is better than another when it comes to taking your omega-3 fatty acids without side effects.
- Try a different omega-3 supplement. Just because one fish oil product makes you burp doesn’t mean you should walk away from omega-3 supplementation altogether! For example, some manufacturers add lemon to their fish oil to help mask the fishy aftertaste you may experience. Enteric-coated softgels that keep the fish oil from being delivered until it reaches the intestines may also help minimize those fishy burps. Those who avoid animal products can take fish out of the equation altogether by getting omega-3 from a vegetarian DHA supplement that is made from algae oil.
- Try a different omega-3 dose. If you are just starting fish oil supplementation, consider starting at a lower dose. This might mean starting with an omega-3 gummy bite that has 300 mg EPA and 225 mg DHA and working your way up to two servings per day of omega-3 softgels that deliver 700 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA. Although you’ll see benefits at lower doses, remember you’ll get more omega-3 fatty acid benefits if you consume higher doses, such as 1400 mg EPA and 1000 mg of DHA daily.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Gummy Bites
How to choose a high-quality omega-3 supplement
Not all fish oil supplements are the same in terms of nutritional content or purity. Dr. Scott Fogle, ND, who oversees scientific and medical information at Life Extension, encourages consumers to shop wisely and confirm the potency and purity of the fish oils they buy. Take the initiative to compare the EPA and DHA levels of different omega-3 products, and get a lot-specific certificate of analysis (COA) from the manufacturer. The COA identifies the product, notes its ingredient strength (such as EPA and DHA fatty acids in fish oil) and disintegration time, and tests for mold, yeast, bacteria and heavy metals.
Consumers should look for an omega-3 fish oil with a Five-Star rating from the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS™) program. This ensures it has beneficial omega-3 content and has been tested for oxidation, pollution, radiation and more.
Some omega-3 fish oils include other ingredients to magnify the health benefits of their EPA and DHA fatty acids, such as heart-healthy Mediterranean olive and sesame extracts or the super-antioxidant astaxanthin. Some brands add krill oil for extra omega-3s. Krill oil has been shown to promote joint comfort, promote brain and cognitive health, and inhibit inflammation to support joint and cardiovascular health.
If you are looking for omega-7 fatty acids, a fish oil from anchovies may be a good choice.
Want to know how best to support your heart health? Take our health needs quiz and get a personal recommendation based on your top concerns.
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Best ways to take fish oil supplements
Once you’ve chosen a high-quality fish oil supplement with beneficial levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids to support your heart health and brain health, it’s time to put some best practices into action to minimize fish burps:
- Take your omega-3 supplement with food. Fish oil is absorbed better with other fats, so you should take your omega-3 fatty acids with meals. If you find you need additional digestive support, take the omega-3s with a digestive enzyme supplement. As a bonus, the omega-3 fatty acids (and the fats from your meal) help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, so this is also a good time to take your vitamin D.
- Freeze your supplements. Some find that freezing the capsules, softgels or gummies helps minimize burping action from the omega-3s. However, Life Extension typically suggests not storing softgels in the fridge or freezer because taking them in and out can introduce moisture that can affect the softgels.
- Take enteric-coated fish oil softgels. The special enteric coating helps to control the release of the omega-3 formula to support sensitive stomachs.
- Divide your dose. If you find that swallowing all of your omega-3s at once brings on fish burps, try splitting the dose in half and taking them at different times, such as one softgel at breakfast and one softgel at lunch.
- Take your omega-3s at night. If the other methods of minimizing fish burps do not work, the answer may lie in sleeping through the fishy aftertaste. You might not burp less, but the after-effects of omega-3 will bother you less if you aren’t awake to experience them!
IFOS™ certification mark is a registered trademark of Nutrasource Diagnostics, Inc. These products have been tested to the quality and purity standards of the IFOS™ program conducted at Nutrasource Diagnostics, Inc.
- Innes JK, Calder PC. “Marine Omega-3 (N-3) Fatty Acids for Cardiovascular Health: An Update for 2020. Int J Mol Sci. February 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7072971/
- Solan, M. “You don’t say? Excuse me, but should you squelch your belch?” Harvard Health Publishing. March 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/you-dont-say-excuse-me-but-should-you-squelch-your-belch
- “Health Benefits of Anchovies.” WebMD. August 2022. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-anchovies
Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD
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