Fish oil, which is extracted from the bodies of fatty, cold-water fish, is the most popular, well-studied and effective form of omega-3 supplement. Fish oil is an excellent source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two omega-3 fatty acids which promote cardiovascular, ocular, psychological and neurological health. Although some people prefer liquid fish oil supplements, others prefer fish oil softgel capsules.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of fish oil liquid vs. capsule supplements.
Liquid fish oil supplements tend to have strong, fishy flavors. Unrefined fish oil can be overpowering; its potent seafoody flavor is profoundly off-putting to people with sensitive palates. Many companies sell liquid fish oil supplements that have been heavily processed; these contain lower amounts of the impurities responsible for “fishy” flavors. Other liquid fish oil supplements have been enhanced with fruit flavors to mask any remnant impurities, but those sensitive to unpleasant tastes may still prefer fish oil capsules.
Liquid fish oil supplements are more likely to cause side effects than fish oil capsules. Liquids cause a higher incidence of unpleasant problems like bad breath, fishy reflux, heartburn and aftertaste. For this reason, people who are prone to these side effects generally choose fish oil capsules. Some fish oil capsules are enteric coated, meaning that they contain a coating that prevents their premature breakdown. They break apart low in the digestive tract, preventing upper-digestive side effects like burping and bad breath.
Liquid fish oil supplements tend to cost far less for each dose than fish oil capsules. They are viewed as a more economically friendly alternative to costly enteric-coated capsules. Fish oil capsules may cost up to ten times as much as fish oil liquid supplements per dose. For this reason, people on tight budgets may prefer inexpensive liquids instead of the less budget-friendly fish oil capsules.
The National Institutes of Health offers more information about fish oil capsules vs. liquids.