Is there any need to take fish oil supplements with food? Or do they work just as well if they are taken on an empty stomach?

  • I mean, doesn't it taste horrible without anything edible?
    – Narusan
    Oct 3, 2017 at 19:09
  • Not too bad. Plus you can take it in pill form. Oct 4, 2017 at 2:41
  • I've been taking it daily for 10-20 years and I've never even seen it in any form other than capsules.
    – Carey Gregory
    Oct 4, 2017 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Fish oil is a fat. Supplements relating to fat and fat solubility have usually one thing in common: the fat digestion and nutrient extraction is usually improved when these fats are consumed like in a normal meal. But this is really just a general rule of thumb. Since real meals containing these are probably better anyway.

But more important are the possible immediate side-effects:

Fish oil is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth in low doses (3 grams or less per day). There are some safety concerns when fish oil is taken in high doses. Taking more than 3 grams per day might keep blood from clotting and can increase the chance of bleeding.

High doses of fish oil might also reduce the immune system's activity, reducing the body's ability to fight infection. This is a special concern for people taking medications to reduce their immune system's activity (organ transplant patients, for example) and the elderly.

Only take high doses of fish oil while under medical supervision.

Fish oil can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals or freezing them can often decrease these side effects. … (emphasis in this paragraph added)

  • 1
    I think WebMD left out the phrase "in large amounts" from that list of side effects.
    – Carey Gregory
    Oct 4, 2017 at 14:51
  • 2
    I wish that WebMD article cited sources. There is quite a bit of contradictory information presented. They claim on one page that people take it for illnesses such as depression. Then on another page they claim it can increase depression. Similarly, they claim people take it for auto-immune diseases, but on another page they claim it can inhibit the auto-immune system. I don't see any sources for their claims. Oct 4, 2017 at 19:13
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    I think WebMD is kind of the Fox News of the medical world.
    – Carey Gregory
    Oct 5, 2017 at 4:12
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    Ahem? They do not cite properly; but below the box I cited from is a little plus sign in a box. With javascript enabled this expands to x pages of curated references. That button has the title "View clinical references for this vitamin or supplement" This Q was just about the best way to take those. Wouldn't "What / Evaluate the side effects" make a nice other Q? Oct 5, 2017 at 9:18

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