Fish Oil vs. Turmeric - Which One is Better?

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: February 15, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Having been an avid gym-goer for years, I've personally experimented with both fish oil and turmeric. These supplements have become my go-to for combating muscle soreness and enhancing my workout performance.

As a certified fiteness coach, I had a client ask me which is better, so I did a lot of research about these two. Here’s everything I’ve found.

Quick Summary

  • To determine the superior supplement between fish oil and turmeric, consider their anti-inflammatory properties and benefits for muscle soreness relief.
  • Both supplements are popular among bodybuilders and athletes for combating muscle soreness and enhancing exercise performance.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, fish oil has shown to provide longer pain relief and more effective swelling reduction compared to turmeric.
  • Personally, having tried both, I've found fish oil to be more effective post-workout, but turmeric offers broader health benefits beyond just muscle recovery.

Is Fish Oil Better Than Turmeric?

Top view close up image of fish oil

From my own experience and research, while both fish oil and turmeric offer anti-inflammatory benefits, there's a distinct difference in how they work.

Basede on research from National Library of Medicine comparing the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of these two, both showed promising results [1].

However, the research data suggest that fish oil relieved pain longer and reduced swelling better.

Another research by National Institutes of Health also showed that curcumin has poor absorption – it’s not easily absorbed into our body, which may decrease its effectiveness [2].

So, it could be said that fish oil provides better relief to muscle soreness compared to turmeric, though more studies are needed to compare the supplements’ performance.

Important Ingredients

Fish oil has Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), that our bodies cannot make and can only come from food.

DHA and EPA are said to prevent heart disease and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA (found in fish oil) for optimal cardiovascular health [3].

Turmeric, on the other hand, contains curcumin or Curcuma longa.

Curcumin is an active ingredient helping combat muscle pain and inflammation and helping fight damage in cells.

Fish Oil Supplements Benefits

Girl holding barbell

Taking this supplementation provides tons of nutrition that may contribute to overall health.

"Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on fish oil supplementation for its claimed results, such as protecting the heart, easing pain, improving mental health, and lengthening life."

- Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing 

Here are some of the benefits confirmed:

Reducing Muscle Soreness

The two Omega-3 fatty acids it contains, DHA and EPA, have anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve muscle swelling after a heavy workout and help lessen muscle damage.

Improving Workout Performance

It is said to increase endurance, speed up recovery, and decrease the risk of injury, improving your workout experience altogether.

Preventing Heart and Inflammatory Diseases

Omega-3 is known to keep our hearts healthy as it helps balance the healthy blood cholesterol levels in our body, so it may help patients with hypertension and prevent heart attack and stroke. It is also said to lessen chronic inflammation such as arthritis.

A 2021 study by National Institute of Health reports that participants who took fish oil supplementation showed improvements in their heart rate and increased production of good cholesterol [4].

Boosting Cognitive Function

DHA and EHA fatty acids help keep our brains healthy and boost our cognitive activity. It may also improve the symptoms and brain function of people who suffer from mental disorders and depression.

See our article on the best fish oil supplements out on the market.

Fish Oil Dosage & Side-Effects

Fish oil in hand

As for the dosage, there is no absolute rule for the right dose of Omega-3s one can take. However, the recommended dose is around 1000-5000mg daily.

Fish oil is generally safe to consume, but some mild side effects include bad breath, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.

It's also not a good idea to take high doses since it may act as an anticoagulant – it slows down the blood-clotting process and may increase the risk of bleeding.

If you are taking any medication or treatment, it’s important to ask your doctor before using this supplement.

Turmeric Supplement Benefits

Close up of turmeric

People use turmeric for many reasons, and here are some of them.

Reducing Swelling and Pain

Damaged muscles lead to soreness and pain. Curcumin appears to have strong anti-inflammatory properties that decrease soreness, speed up recovery, and improves overall athletic performance.

In a 2022 study from Journal of Clinical Medicine, curcumin showed a potential role of a significant reduction in pain, which may benefit patients with some form of joint problem such as osteoarthritis [5].

Anti-Cancer Properties

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has identified that curcumin, found in turmeric, possesses anti-cancer properties and can suppress the proliferation of tumor cells [6].

Fighting Oxidative Stress

Turmeric is also a natural antioxidant that helps fight off oxidative stress causing diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and aging. So, it helps in the prevention of diseases and improves health.

Improving Brain Function

Turmeric is also found to enhance the mood and memory of adults because it increases a particular hormone responsible for brain function. As a result, it may be effective for reversing brain-related conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

See our article on the best turmeric supplements out on the market.

Turmeric Dosage & Side-Effects

A woman holding a toilet paper and stomach

Unlike turmeric spices, turmeric supplements contain a higher dosage of curcumin.

Taking a dosage of 500–2,000 mg of turmeric supplement per day is considered safe. Also, including turmeric spices in your diet is recommended.

Gerry Finn, CEO of Beeline Healthcare, notes that sometimes people may have reactions to overuse of spices.

He warns that too much turmeric could possibly cause an upset stomach, acid reflux, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. It may also thin your blood, resulting in easy bruising or bleeding.

Too much turmeric is said to cause an upset stomach, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. It may also thin your blood, resulting in easy bruising or bleeding.

Can You Take Turmeric and Fish Oil Together?

Although both supplements provide aid for muscle swelling, enhance workout experience, and boost health, it is not advised to take them together because both are anticoagulant supplements.

They slow down the blot-clot forming process, therefore increasing the risk of bleeding.

Also, a 2020 study from ScienceDirect has shown that combining these two do not make it more effective [7]. Investigations with the combined effect of these two in humans are very limited.

FAQs

Should I Take Turmeric and Fish Oil?

No. You shouldn't take turmeric and fish oil together. Taking both turmeric and fish oil is not a smart idea since the two supplements render the blood less prone to clot. The cumulative impact might potentially raise the risk of bleeding.

Who Should Stay Away From Fish Oil?

People who are pregnant, at a higher risk of diabetes and bleeding (especially those on "blood thinners"), or who have high LDL cholesterol should stay away from fish oil supplements. They can increase the likelihood of hemorrhagic stroke at very high dosages.


Reference:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24689297/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
  3. https://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/sh-proxy/en/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8767101/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8464730/
  6. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/11/10/2908
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475319304594
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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
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
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

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