Algae Oil vs. Fish Oil - Which One is Better?

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
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When a client asked me what was better, algae or fish oil, I spent a lot of time digging into it. As a health optimization coach, I love improving my clients' health.

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

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

Quick Summary

  • Algae oil is better for those following a plant-based diet without fish consumption or tolerance for fishy aftertaste.
  • Algae oil is sustainable, has no risk of allergies to fish or shellfish, and is nutritionally equivalent to Omega-3-rich foods like fish.
  • According to a PubMed study, micro-algal oil and fish oil exhibited similar antiproliferative effects on human colon adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells, with both oils showing reduced toxicity in their non-hydrolyzed forms​​.
  • In my opinion, the choice between algae oil and fish oil depends on individual dietary preferences, tolerance for flavors, and the importance placed on environmental sustainability.

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.

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

Algae oil emerges as a crucial Omega-3 source for vegans and vegetarians, offering a sustainable and direct way to obtain essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA, typically found in fish, aligning with plant-based dietary preferences without compromising nutritional value.

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

Both algal and fish oils are safe but can cause side effects like bad breath, upset stomach, and heartburn.

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.


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, rich in Omega 3s, is ideal for vegetarians and vegans, as algae are the primary Omega 3 source.

“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 & 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 boost brain health, improving mood and supporting brain development. Omega 3 supplements, including EPA and DHA, can help alleviate symptoms of 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

Algae Omega 3 oils can cause side effects like fishy burps and upset stomachs. Overuse may increase bleeding risk due to blood-thinning properties. The advised daily dose of EPA and DHA is 250-1000mg, though optimal dosing is still under research.

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 [2].

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?


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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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