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Algae Oil vs. Fish Oil
Which One Is Better and Why?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 8, 2021

When a client asked me what is better: algae oil or fish oil, I spent a whole lot of time digging into it.

I discovered that although both have Omega-3 fatty acids and may provide the same results for bodybuilding and health, one is better when it comes to its concentration, diet preference, and sustainability.

So, I’m spilling everything I know here to help you decide.

Is Algae Oil Better Than Fish Oil?

man holding a medicine kit and a capsule

If you maintain a plant-based diet, don’t eat fish, or can’t tolerate the fishy aftertaste of fish oil, then algae oil is a better option for you.

Algae oil or algal oil is a plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

It is helpful for inflammation, brain function, and heart health and is preferred in vegan and vegetarian diets.

Let’s break down the difference between these two.

Allergic Reactions

man holding a tissue roll and wiping his runny nose

Although it’s not that common, some people may have fish or shellfish allergies, so fish oil intake may result in mild reactions (such as a rash) to some severe allergic reactions.

Yet, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) says that consuming pure fish oil from supplements has a low risk of allergic reaction.

If you have a fish allergy, it’s better to ask your doctor before taking the supplement.

Diet preferences

Whether a vegan or vegetarian or you simply dislike the taste of fish, plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are a good solution for you. Algal oil comes from marine algae; it has a neutral taste, lacks odor and cholesterol. [1]

Also, algae oil is nutritionally equivalent to Omega-3-rich foods such as cooked salmon, mackerel, and other foods – it’s as effective for inflammation, brain health, and heart health.

Side effects

man using his hand to smell his breath, and a woman holding her belly in pain

Algal oil and fish oil are generally safe to take, yet they do have side effects.

Fish oils may cause bad breath, upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and heartburn, and some of these adverse outcomes are also linked to the algal oil.

There is no general rule for the right amount of taking these supplements, but a daily dose of 1000-5000mg is considered safe.

Yet, it’s better to consume a lower dose before getting to higher doses.

Sustainability

When it comes to what is more sustainable or more available, algal oil wins compared to fish oil. Production of algal oil is easier, more environmentally friendly, and has higher yields than fish oil.

Algal oil also has high bioavailability – it has a high absorption rate, making it a sustainable alternative form free from the threat of toxins and contaminants such as mercury found in eating fish.

What Are the Benefits of Algae Oil?

man holding up a thumbs and a capsule, and a cutout paper of a brain and a human head

Algal oil is a better option for vegetarians, vegans, and those who prefer plant-based sources of Omega 3 acids.

Algae is packed with high levels of Omega 3s - in fact, they are the primary source of it. So, when fish feed on algae, they become the secondary source of it.

“Microalgae contain many nutrients beneficial to the human body including the highest content of proteins, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and others.” – Raschid Stoffel, Head of Food and Beverage at AlgaEnergy

Some of the major algae oil avails are:

Reducing Inflammation

The Omega 3 fatty acids, especially EPA, have inflammatory properties that contribute to reducing pain and swelling. Therefore, athletes and bodybuilders who often suffer from muscle soreness after heavy exercise may benefit from these supplements.

Helping the Brain Function

DHA and EPA in algal oil are essential for brain health.

People with depression or mental disorders have low levels of EPA and DHA in their brain. A study demonstrated that EPA fatty acid helps improve behavior and mood, while DHA fatty acids support brain development.

Consuming Omega 3 supplement capsules help boost EPA and DHA in the brain and fight brain-related disorders such as depression.

Balancing the Fat Level in Blood

DHA fatty acid may aid in balancing the amount of fat in our blood; it also increases the good cholesterol to combat the bad, helping fight heart disease.

Algae Omega 3 Oil Side Effects

woman having chest pains, person getting his bloody wound cleaned

Even though algae Omega 3 oils may bring promising results, some minor side effects are linked to this supplement, such as fishy burps, upset stomach, heartburn, and nausea.

Additionally, taking too much of this supplement may also increase the risk of bleeding because of its blood-thinning ability.

The recommended dose of combined EPA and DHA is 250-1000mg daily, yet there is still insufficient information about the right dosage of Omega 3 supplements.

Fish Oil Supplements Benefits

mouth view of a woman taking a capsule, medical person holding up a heart toy and a thumbs up

Here are some avails you may get from this supplementation.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Content

Fish oils are high in Omega 3s, known to support inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. They help reduce the pain and swelling by fighting substances in our body that cause inflammation and speed up recovery from damage.

Recent research shows some evidence that DHA can help boost our immune system.

Fighting Heart Diseases

The three Omega 3 fatty acids - Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA),  docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can have tremendous benefits. Two types - EPA and DHA, are contained in fish oil.

The American Heart Association encourages eating foods high in these fatty acids because they are good for the heart. [1]

Most people get their Omega 3 acids from the best dietary sources, including fatty fish such as mackerel, anchovies, herring, and sardines. However, due to concern of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals such as mercury in the sea, some go for high-strength fish oil supplements.

Omega 3s help balance the amount of fats in the blood, making us healthier.

Brain Function Boost

DHA prevents brain diseases as it slows down the decline of brain activities; DHA combined with EPA helps improve brain memory, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Other research evidence also suggests DHA may be helpful for pregnant women as it is important for fetal development of the brain.

Fish Oil Side Effects

man having itchy arms, and a woman blocking her mouth

Fish oil is generally safe to consume, yet there are some adverse outcomes you have to be aware of.

If you have a fish allergy, fish-sourced oil intake may cause allergic reactions such as rash, so better consult your doctor before taking it.

Other minor side effects may include belching, bad breath, and loose stools.

It also has anticoagulant properties by slowing down the blood-clotting process and may pose the risk of bleeding.

The studies about the right dosage for fish oil are still limited. Yet, some research data suggest a dose of 1000-5000-mg per day.

Therefore, try taking lower doses first before going for higher amounts of this supplement.

Related: Olive Oil vs. Fish Oil - Which One is Better?

Algae Oil vs. Fish Oil - Which One Will You Choose?

Both of these Omega 3s dietary sources promise beneficial results such as relieving muscle pain and inflammation, balancing the fat in the body, and boosting brain activity.

However, if you follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, show allergic reactions to fish, or dislike the unpleasant smell and taste of fish, choosing algal oil may be the best option.

But if you are comfortable with both of these Omega 3 supplements, it’s worth mentioning that consuming any of them for weeks may improve your gym experience and boost your health.

Don't forget to share your thoughts and supplement of choice and how they worked for you.


Reference:

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer

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