Why Does Fish Oil Make You Burp?

Ever taken a fish oil supplement and found yourself burping up an unpleasant fishy taste? You’re not alone. Many people experience this side effect, and it’s enough to make anyone think twice before popping another capsule. But why does fish oil make you burp in the first place?

Understanding the cause can help you manage or even prevent this annoying issue. Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is great for your health but can sometimes cause digestive discomfort. Let’s dive into the science behind those fishy burps and explore some tips to keep them at bay.

Understanding Fish Oil and Digestion

Fish oil, a common supplement, is known for its health benefits but can cause digestive issues for some people.

What Is Fish Oil?

Fish oil, derived from the tissues of oily fish, contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) crucial for various bodily functions. EPA and DHA help reduce inflammation, support heart health, and improve brain function. Over-the-counter fish oil supplements come in liquid or capsule forms.

How Fish Oil Affects Digestion

Fish oil affects digestion primarily due to its high-fat content. When ingested, it stimulates bile production in the liver, aiding fat breakdown. However, this process can cause delayed gastric emptying, leading to the fishy burps many experience. Incomplete absorption of omega-3 fatty acids can initiate this discomfort.

Fish oil usually dissolves in the stomach, but if the supplement’s coating doesn’t dissolve properly, burps can occur. Additionally, the quantity of fish oil taken impacts digestion; higher doses increase the likelihood of digestive issues.

Taking fish oil with meals reduces the chance of burping, as food helps with better breakdown and absorption of the supplement. Choosing enteric-coated capsules, which dissolve in the intestines instead of the stomach, minimizes discomfort.

Understanding how fish oil and digestion interact enables better management of its side effects.

Reasons Why Fish Oil Makes You Burp

Fish oil supplements, despite their health benefits, can lead to an unpleasant side effect: burping. Several factors contribute to this issue.

Ingredient Quality and Purity

Lower-quality fish oil supplements often contain impurities, preservatives, or additives. These ingredients can cause digestive disruption and increase the likelihood of burping. To mitigate this, select high-quality fish oil brands that undergo molecular distillation—a process that removes contaminants, resulting in a purer product less likely to cause burping.

Fish Oil Dosage and Timing

Taking too much fish oil at once can overwhelm the digestive system. High doses slow the digestive process, leading to more gas production and subsequent burping. Smaller, divided doses throughout the day can reduce this effect. Timing is also crucial. Taking fish oil with meals helps absorption, reducing the chance of burping by ensuring the oil mixes with other foods.

Individual Digestive Responses

Some people may have unique digestive sensitivities to fish oil. Individual differences in bile production, stomach acid levels, or gut flora can affect how one’s body processes fish oil. This variation means that even high-quality products and proper dosing strategies might not completely eliminate burping for everyone. Trying different formulations, such as enteric-coated capsules, can sometimes help by ensuring the fish oil dissolves in the intestines instead of the stomach.

Avoiding fish oil burps involves considering these factors—ingredient quality, dosage and timing, and individual digestive responses—when selecting and consuming supplements.

Minimizing Fish Oil Burps

Fish oil burps can be bothersome, but there are ways to minimize them. By choosing the right fish oil supplement and following effective consumption tips, you can reduce this discomfort.

Choosing the Right Fish Oil Supplement

Selecting a high-quality fish oil supplement makes a big difference. Look for products that have been purified to remove contaminants. Opt for molecularly distilled fish oil, which ensures purity and reduces the risk of digestive issues. Also, consider supplements with added natural flavors or enteric coatings that help mask the fishy aftertaste and prevent burping.

Using third-party tested fish oils guarantees that the product meets quality standards. Brands sourcing from small, fatty fish like anchovies or sardines often provide cleaner oils. Check for the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) seal for verified product quality.

Effective Consumption Tips

Taking fish oil with meals helps reduce burping. The food aids in absorbing the fat-soluble nutrients and minimizes the chances of fishy aftertaste. Dividing your daily dose into smaller amounts taken throughout the day can also ease digestive load and prevent discomfort.

Consider taking fish oil supplements in the morning, as digestive systems are generally more active then. Store fish oil in a cool, dark place to maintain freshness since old, oxidized oil increases the likelihood of burping. Chilling the capsules before consumption can help them pass through the stomach faster, further reducing burps.

Alternative Forms of Omega-3 Supplements

If fish oil causes uncomfortable burps, consider exploring other forms of omega-3 supplements that offer similar benefits.

Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources

Plant-based omega-3 sources provide a sustainable way to boost your omega-3 intake. Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and hemp seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts to EPA and DHA, though less efficiently than fish oil. Algal oil, derived from microalgae, directly provides EPA and DHA and is an excellent option.

Fish Oil Alternatives That Reduce Burping

Certain fish oil alternatives reduce the likelihood of burping. Krill oil, absorbed more efficiently due to its phospholipid structure, may cause fewer digestive issues. EPA/DHA concentrate powders mixed with water or food can also be gentler on the stomach. Enteric-coated fish oil pills delay dissolving until reaching the intestines, minimizing burp risks.


Fish oil burps can be an unpleasant side effect but they’re manageable with the right approach. Opting for high-quality and purified supplements is crucial. Paying attention to added flavors or enteric coatings can also make a big difference.

Remember to divide your doses and take them with meals to aid digestion. Storing your supplements properly and considering the timing of your intake can further help reduce discomfort.

Exploring alternative omega-3 sources like plant-based options or krill oil can provide the benefits without the burps. With these strategies, you can enjoy the health benefits of omega-3s without the fishy aftertaste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes fishy burps from omega-3 fish oil supplements?

Fishy burps are often caused by the high-fat content in omega-3 fish oil supplements, which can lead to digestive discomfort and burping.

How can I minimize fish oil burps?

To minimize fish oil burps, choose high-quality, purified supplements with added flavors or enteric coatings, take the supplements with meals, divide doses, and store them properly.

Are there specific types of fish oil that reduce burping?

Yes, enteric-coated fish oil capsules and supplements sourced from small fish, like anchovies, are less likely to cause burping.

Can the timing of taking fish oil supplements affect digestion?

Yes, taking fish oil supplements in the morning and chilling the capsules can help ease digestion and reduce discomfort.

What are some alternatives to fish oil for omega-3?

Alternatives include plant-based sources like flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and algal oil, which provide EPA and DHA directly. Krill oil and EPA/DHA concentrate powders are also effective alternatives.

How does an enteric coating on fish oil capsules help?

Enteric-coated capsules are designed to dissolve in the intestines rather than the stomach, reducing the likelihood of fishy burps and digestive discomfort.

Why is third-party testing important for fish oil supplements?

Third-party testing ensures the purity and quality of the fish oil, confirming it is free from contaminants and meets safety standards.

Do smaller fish like anchovies make better fish oil?

Yes, fish oils sourced from smaller fish like anchovies are typically lower in contaminants and may be easier to digest.

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