Salmon Oil vs Fish Oil: Which Is Better?


Ever curious about those fish oil supplements people are always talking about? There are so many kinds: salmon, sardine, cod, and the generic “fish” oil. While wondering about them, many people ask, is salmon oil better than fish oil?

Salmon oil is better than fish oil due to its level of omega-3 fatty acid absorption and better DHA to EPA ratio. One tablespoon of salmon oil contains 4.6 g of omega-3, more than cod liver, sardine, herring and menhaden oils. Salmon oil also contains less unhealthy saturated fat than regular fish oil. 

Take a look below for the ultimate guide on fish oils (specifically salmon oil). I’ll examine the nutrients side-by-side, benefits, risks and costs. In addition, the article will take a look at some salmon oil substitutes for those who can’t consume fish.

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Salmon Oil vs. Fish Oil: Nutrient Comparison

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) suggests that every person eat 2-3 servings of salmon fish a week. But what about fish oil supplements?

The recommended amount of ALA (part of those Omega-3s) is different depending on age and gender. For adult women, 1.1 grams on the daily are encouraged, while 1.6 grams are encouraged for adult men 1.

This being said, which fish oil is the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids?

Salmon oil contains more omega-3 fatty acids than other fish oils. Salmon oil contains 4.66 grams per tablespoon, menhaden oil 3.62 grams, sardine oil 3.10 grams, herring oil 1.50 grams and cod liver oil 0.84 grams.

Fish oil supplements like those made from cod liver, sardines, menhaden, and herring all do the job and get your body the Omega-3s it needs. However, the very best oil to take would have to be salmon oil.

The following is the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oils:

Type of Fish Oil Amount of Omega-3 per Tablespoon
*Salmon Oil 4.66 grams
Menhaden Oil 3.62 grams
*Sardine Oil 3.10 grams
Herring Oil 1.50 grams
*Cod Liver Oil 0.84 grams
* indicates the oils with 50-60% more DHA than EPA in their makeup, whereas the unstarred fish oils have 50-60% more EPA than DHA.

Salmon oil contains more omega-3 fatty acids than other fish oils. Salmon oil contains 4.66 grams per tablespoon, menhaden oil 3.62 grams, sardine oil 3.10 grams, herring oil 1.50 grams and cod liver oil 0.84 grams.

Fish oil supplements like those made from cod liver, sardines, menhaden, and herring all do the job and get your body the Omega-3s it needs 2. However, the very best oil to take would have to be salmon oil.

So, though the other fish oils put up a good fight, there’s really no denying that salmon oil packs the most potent punch, with its healthier fats and higher concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids 3.

Nutritional Facts + Values

The following table compares all the nutrients contained in salmon and fish oils:

Nutrient Salmon Oil
(1 Tbsp)
Sardine Oil
(1 Tbsp)
Menhaden Oil
(1 Tbsp)
Cod Liver Oil
(1 Tbsp)
Herring Oil
(1 Tbsp)
Calories 123 123 123 41 123
Omega-3 4.66 g 3.10 g 3.62 g 0.84 g 1.50 g
Total Fat 14 g 14 g 14 g 4.5 g 14 g
Saturated Fat 2.7 g 4.1 g 4.1 g 1.0 g 2.9 g
Cholesterol 66 mg 97 mg 71 mg 25 mg 104 mg

Nutrient sources 4 5 6 7

Going along with our comparison of fish oil and salmon oil, it’s time to take a closer look at the nutrient labels. Which fish oil is healthier? 

Salmon oil is healthier than other fish oils due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, salmon oil contains fewer saturated fats than herring, sardine and menhaden oils.

Though it may not seem too big a difference in terms of calorie count, salmon oil slides into first place. This is because of its low number of saturated fats and because you have to worry less about your cholesterol intake.

Cod liver oil contains fewer calories, less fat and cholesterol which makes it appear to be the best choice 8. The reason why those numbers are low is due to the low level of the omega-3s.

If the calories and lower fat are more important to you than the omega-3 fatty acids, you may want to choose the cod liver oil. This may be true if you’re gaining the missing omega-3 fatty acids from another source.

What are the Omega- 3s in Fish oil?

Let’s discuss Omega-3s. What are they and why do we need them?

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats and are commonly referred to as “essential fatty acids”. These fatty acids are needed for their nutritional value and cannot be made by the body on its own. They’re only found in outside resources like seeds, seafood and supplemental fish oil tablets.

Apparently, there are many different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, but most of what medical professionals and nutritionists refer to are alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA).

These are the components humans need to live a healthy life. Since these Omega-3s cannot be produced without help, many in the medical health field suggest adding these “outside resources” to our diet. This is why many people encourage the regular consumption of fish oil supplements 9.

How Omega-3s Work and Why They Matter

Taking all this to heart and now knowing the “what”, let’s talk about how Omega-3s work and why they are important to our health. After all, it’s why salmon oil has the edge over the other fish oils.

How Omega-3s Work

Once consumed, Omega-3s become incorporated into the body’s cell membranes, building a thicker protective layer around cells. This comes in handy when the body decides which cells and materials can be let through the body’s various systems.

Another handy aspect of Omega-3s is once they have been absorbed, they can provide energy and make molecules called eicosanoids. These molecules have various functions in the cardiovascular, immune and endocrine systems.

Importance of Omega-3s

Without Omega-3s, one runs the risk of having an Omega-3 deficiency. In extreme cases, this can cause scaly skin, a swollen appearance and itchy rashes.

Though it’s not a common deficiency in the United States, it’s good to be aware of the possibility so everyone can take precautions and incorporate the proper nutrients into their everyday diet.

salmon oil and fish oil omega-3

The Health Benefits of Salmon and Fish Oil 

Aside from giving us energy and making molecules, Omega-3 has some serious health benefits worth mentioning 10.

While salmon and fish oil bring polyunsaturated fats to the table 11, combined with the other Omega-3s, these fish oils can create healthier skin, hair, brain and vision. Some say these fatty acids can help maintain and manage weight too!

But if that’s not enough, here are some more health benefits:

Heart Healthy

Known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, salmon oil (and other fish oils) can help keep your heart healthy and may prevent strokes, heart attacks and heart disease 12.

Along with that, fish oil is said to normalize blood flow and heart rate, making things easier on this vital organ. Plus it’s all done through the lowering of triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the fats cells in the blood.

High levels of triglycerides are what can cause problems in the liver or heart.

Normal levels hover around 150 mg/dL or less, and fish oils supplements like salmon oil (or the other resources of Omega-3) can help in keeping these levels at a healthy measure.

Essentially it helps clear out “bad” cholesterol while keeping the good stuff.

Anti-Inflammatory

Like other Omega-3 rich foods, salmon and fish oils have anti-inflammatory abilities.

Because of this, taking fish oil supplements has been known to help in preventing inflammation-related diseases like arthritis, diabetes and even some cancers.

Improved Circulation

Because Omega-3s are later converted into other helpful molecules, researchers believe the fatty acids help keep a body’s blood vessels strong, capable and flexible.

This allows for better blood flow and improved circulation of oxygen.

Brain Capabilities

Anything with the Omega-3 levels found in fish oil (especially salmon oil because of its higher dosage of Omega-3 DHA), can help with building up and maintaining brain cells.

Because this is true, brain cells are constantly being made and repaired by these fatty acids. This can decrease the chance of getting cognitive degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Eyes and Vision

There are even more benefits of salmon oil! With the Omega-3s to thank once again, salmon oil can help prevent retina deterioration. If the intraocular pressure (the fluid pressure in the eye or IOP) is greater than the normal range of 12-22 mm/Hg, glaucoma could occur or will at least be a considerable risk 13.

With a diet full of those Omegas, eye problems are less likely. They help keep that IOP at a healthy level. This is another fantastic reason to take fish oil supplements.

The Warnings of Fish Oil

With all those health benefits, it’s hard to imagine there would be anything “wrong” with taking salmon or fish oil supplements. But it’s not a perfect cure-all.

Although it may seem like the ultimate health tool, salmon oil has its downsides too. Here are some risks you should contemplate before taking salmon oil. 

Always check with your physician prior to taking or changing your nutrition habits.

Bad Breath and Body Odor

Because salmon oil is made from salmon innards, things can get stinky.

Just like if you had gone getting sushi for lunch, the fish oils in the supplements can linger a while. This can result in bad breath lasting longer than is comfortable.

As for the body odor, the supplements are made from pungent oils. Therefore, the fishy “grease” can stay in your system for quite some time and even increase the amount you sweat (but this does not happen often).

Metal and Mercury Contamination

If the salmon oil tablets were made from wild-caught salmon, there may be a metal contamination warning. Because fish tend to contain high levels of mercury, there could be a consequence of taking too much fish oil.

The FDA and EPA established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Salmon, sardines, herring, menhaden and cod are all listed on the best choice list of fish 14.

Aside from that, be cautious of where you get your salmon oil supplements. Though some very good companies sell salmon oil, there will always be companies that cut corners and rush processes.

You will want to do your research and make sure to avoid these inferior products. If you don’t choose a reputable company, the salmon used to make the tablets may not have been cleaned properly or fished out of safe areas.

Digestive Issues

In rare cases, there have been those who suffered stomach cramps and digestive issues. In addition, some people have experienced heartburn and loose stool in response to the upset gut.

Be cautious when taking fish oil and don’t take too much at a time. Reading labels and suggested measurements carefully could be beneficial.

Bleeding

In even rarer cases, fish oil supplements have been known to cause nose bleeds and “easy bleeding”. This means if you get a cut, the bleeding might have a hard time stopping. Though this is rare, it can be dangerous.

If this or any other concerns come up, it might be best to stop taking the supplements and speak to a physician.

Allergies

Last but not least, there are allergies.

Though have a shellfish allergy doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from taking salmon or any other fish oils, there may have been cross-contamination in the making and manufacturing process.

Labels and medical professionals could elaborate further on any additional inquiries.

omega-3 in salmon and fish oil

Fish Oil Substitutes

Salmon oil and fish oil seem like a healthy option to get ahold of those necessary Omega-3s, but are there salmon oil substitutes?

The following are substitutes for fish oil:

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Leafy Greens
  • Algal Oil
  • Soy Oil
  • Canola Oil

This list is mainly for those who are looking for the added nutrients, but are either vegetarian, vegan or not in the mood for fish.

Talking about algal oil, this substance can come in tablet form just like fish oil supplements. It’s a very common and popular fish oil substitute.

Algal oil is made completely from marine algae. Many who have tried this supplement have argued the algal oil is just as good as fish oil. It’s what makes fish oil so healthy and full of Omega-3 is the algae itself, which makes up the majority of the fish’s diet.

Though valid reasoning, algal oil supplements are high in DHA and EPA but are lacking in the ALA department.

Salmon and Fish Oil Costs

Which costs more, salmon or fish oil? Salmon oil costs more than fish oil. The average salmon oil price is $21.99 per 200 softgels and fish oil is $9.99 per 180 softgels.

Walmart

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil – NOW Brand (1,000 mg, 200 Softgels)
    • $28.89
  • Cod Liver Oil – NOW Brand (1,000 mg, 180 Softgels)
    • $18.37

Costco

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil – Pure Alaska Omega Brand (1,000 mg, 210 Softgels)
    • $21.99
  • Fish Oil – Kirkland Brand (1,000 mg, 400 Softgels)
    • $12.99
  • Cod Liver Oil – NOW Brand (1,000 mg, 180 Softgels)
    • $22.99
  • Menhaden Fish Oil – WonderLabs (2,000 mg, 180 Softgels)
    • $27.79

The salmon, fish and cod liver oils are the easiest to locate. I typically can find more affordable prices and availability on Amazon, Check them out here, Fish Oils.

Wrapping Up The Salmon and Fish Oil

To sum things up, let’s review the facts:

Omega-3s are a necessary part of any healthy diet, and fish oil supplements are some of the best ways to make them a part of your everyday meal plan.

There are countless health benefits to consider, like preventative properties and healthy polyunsaturated fats, though there are some warnings to be aware of.

There are also substitutes for those who can’t partake, though if one can, fish oil is the prime route to a healthier, Omega-3 full life.

But does the question still stand: Should you take salmon oil or fish oil?

At the end of the day, fish oil will do a fine job, but salmon oil has more pros than it has cons. Its nutritional value stands out among the other oils and its Omega-3 count blows all the other fish oils out of the water.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

Sea Bass vs. Salmon: Which Is Better?

Pink vs Red Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Tuna vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Keta vs Sockeye Salmon: What’s The Difference?

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. USDA: What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for omega-3, 6 and 9?[]
  2. USDA: Fish Oils are good for your Health[]
  3. Nutrition Value: Fish oil, salmon[]
  4. Nutrition Value: Fish oil, sardine[]
  5. Nutrition Value: Fish oil, menhaden[]
  6. Nutrition Value: Fish oil, cod liver[]
  7. Nutrition Value: Fish oil, herring[]
  8. USDA: Fish oil, cod liver[]
  9. USDA: OMG – OMeGa-3s![]
  10. National Institutes of Health: Omega-3 Fatty Acids[]
  11. USDA: Fish oil, herring[]
  12. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Fish oil supplements, longevity and aging[]
  13. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth[]
  14. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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