Fish Oil Burps: The Causes and How to Avoid Them

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    Fish oil supplements provide an easy way to add more omega-3 fatty acids, but how can you prevent the annoying fish oil burp? We have some suggestions.

    Fish oil supplements are a popular way to add more healthy fats into a diet. These supplements are derived from fish, like Alaskan wild salmon, and typically provide many essential nutrients like Vitamin A, D, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. One of the main reasons people take fish oil supplements is that they can be safer than consuming extensive amounts of fish. Because fish can contain mercury and other heavy metals, it’s recommended that people only eat two servings of fatty fish per week. The labels on fish oil supplements will state whether they have been tested for contaminants.

    Fish oil and Omega-3

    One of the main reasons fish oil supplements are so popular is that they contain a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acid in each capsule. It’s important to consume omega-3 fatty acids because the body cannot produce them; they must come from external sources. You may have heard of the main types of omega-3s, which include:

    • EPA: Known as the “neck down” omega-3 because it supports many of the systems of the body that are located below the shoulders.
    • DHA: Conversely, this is the “neck up” fatty acid since it is associated with supporting the brain as well as the heart and vascular system. EPA and DHA are found in the greatest abundance in seafood.
    • ALA: This type supports the heart and vascular system and is found in mostly plant-based food sources such as seaweed, hemp, and chia seeds.

    There are several foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the most popular are:

    • Fatty fish, such as herring, anchovy, sardines, salmon and bluefin tuna
    • Walnuts
    • Flaxseed
    • Seaweed
    • Chia seeds

    In general omega-3s may help support healthy metabolism and immunity, while contributing to healthy joints, brain, and nervous system. Visible benefits can include support for healthy hair and skin, as well as benefits for sight and vision. Omega-3s are often consumed in the hope of reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

    Look for a fish oil supplement that provides at least 200 mg of EPA and DHA. It should also be manufactured through a cold-press process, like extra virgin olive oil, which helps the oil retain naturally occuring micronutrients like vitamins A, D, and E.

    Omega-3 health benefits

    There are many promising benefits to Omega-3 fatty acids, including:

    Supporting a healthy brain Omega-3s are an ingredient in phospholipids, which are found in the brain. Also, high concentrations of the omega-3 DHA can be found in the cellular membrane of the brain. One study did find a link between DHA and cognitive performance. In the study, participants with age-related cognitive decline who took 900 mg a day for half a year showed improved learning and memory function.

    Supporting eye health Dry environments, aging, and looking at a computer screen for more than three hours a day can all contribute to dry eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology conducted a clinical study to see if omega-3 supplements can help with alleviating dry eye symptoms. The study found that when participants took 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA twice daily for 30 days it helped to decrease the rate of tear evaporation and improved both dry eye symptoms and tear secretion.

    Promoting heart health Some clinical trials have shown that fish oil can help maintain healthy levels of triglycerides (that are already within normal range), which is the fat found in blood. Fish oil can also help in promoting other health markers that contribute to a healthy heart. Human clinical trials have shown that fish oil helps retain healthy triglyceride levels and promotes other studied heart health markers.

    What causes fish oil burps

    Fish oil supplements are popular because they are an easy way to consume omega-3s, particularly of the DHA and EPA varieties. Fish oil supplements provide an easy way to consume the recommended amounts without consuming quality fish on a daily basis.

    Common side effects of taking these capsules, however, are the fishy taste and fish oil burps. What causes these annoying fish oil burps? They can be fairly common and not generally anything to worry about. Not having enough fluids in your stomach at the time you take your supplement can impact how the supplement is metabolized. When fish oil sits in the stomach for too long, you can notice these fishy burps occurring. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are hydrated and drink plenty of fluids when taking a fish oil supplement.

    How to prevent having fish oil burps

    Choosing the right fish oil can help to minimize fish oil burps and provide the most benefits. Here are some tips when shopping for a high-quality fish oil supplement:

    • Look for a supplement that includes an antioxidant in its formulation, such as vitamin E (usually listed as tocopherols). This can help to preserve the fish oil and maintain freshness.
    • Fish oil supplements with an enteric coating can keep the fish oil from being dissolved in the stomach, where fish burps can originate. Instead, they allow the supplement to pass through to the small intestine where it can be absorbed without causing burping.
    • Always take fish oil with food or along with a meal.
    • If you are taking two capsules, divide up your dose into a single capsule in the morning and a single capsule at night.
    • Freezing softgels might be another option for preventing the capsule from breaking down too early in the digestive process.
    • Pair your fish oil with a digestive enzyme, which can aid in digestion and absorption.

    Final takeaways

    Fish oil supplements can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. There are numerous benefits of omega-3 fats, including supporting a healthy cardiovascular system and cognitive functions, as well as helping promote healthy eyes. Fish oil supplements provide a high concentration of DHA and EPA forms of omega-3 fats.

    One of the common complaints about omega-3 fish oil is that it can have a fishy taste and cause fishy burps. To avoid these burps while still getting the benefits of omega-3s, it’s best to take the supplement with a full glass of water and also with food. An enteric coating or freezing your fish oil can help delay the breakdown of the capsule in your body, helping to curb those fishy burps.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
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