Does Fish Oil Expire?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Fish oil supplements are a medicine cabinet staple for many people, and as you’ve probably noticed, they’re available in increasingly larger and larger bottles. Mass quantities of fish pills might be okay if you have several family members taking them daily, but if you aren’t consuming them in a timely fashion, they could expire before you get a chance to get through the bottle.
If you’re a little hesitant about throwing out all those capsules and you choose to take expired fish oil, you’re likely to miss out on the benefits you want. Unfortunately, you’ll probably experience some less than pleasant side effects too.
Here’s everything you need to know about fish oil caplets, how long they stay fresh, and what other options you have for supporting your health.
What Is Fish Oil?
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and some shellfish like crabs, oysters, and muscles contain omega-3s, polyunsaturated fatty acids that research says is beneficial to certain aspects of your health.
Fish oil supplements contain oil that has been harvested from the fatty tissues of these fish, and sometimes from their livers.
Cod liver oil, for instance, comes from the livers of codfish. You can find some forms of omega-3 fatty acids in plants and seeds, but because it is so abundant in fish, most supplements usually contain a fish oil derivative.
Inside Each Capsule
You’ve probably never looked at the ingredients label of your fish oil supplement, but if you did, chances are you’d be surprised to learn there’s usually more than just fish oil inside.
First, most fish oil supplements actually contain a blend of oils. These oils go through a detailed refining process that naturally introduces other materials and chemicals into the oil to make it safer for consumption.
You’ll also find ingredients added to the capsule to help preserve it and extend its shelf life before the oil gets rancid. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is sometimes added to the supplement because it is an antioxidant that helps preserve the product longer.
Although most ingredients are generally accepted as safe, if you’re looking for a truly “pure” supplement, you likely won’t find that in a fish oil capsule.
Why Do We Take Fish Oil?
Fish oil, as previously mentioned, is a rich source of omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA — two types of omega 3s. Omega-3s are said to support heart health, encourage better triglyceride numbers, regulate blood pressure, and even help ease the discomfort of aching joints.
Sounds Great, What’s the Catch?
Omega-3s are wildly popular fatty acids. However, it’s not necessarily the best fatty acid on the team. For all the health benefits it offers, too much of it is not a good thing.
Taking Too Much
Research shows that taking too much omega-3 can actually be counterproductive to the very health factors it is said to support. Of note is an alarming occurrence of increased blood sugar when taking large amounts of omega-3. For a patient with insulin resistance or diabetes, this could quite literally become a life-threatening scenario.
Other possible symptoms of taking too much omega-3 include low blood pressure, thinning of the blood, excessive bleeding if an injury were to occur, or increased risk of bruising.
The real problem with this is that researchers haven’t yet narrowed down any concrete biomarkers to help them determine which people are more at risk or how much is too much omega-3 to consume.
Your cells define your body and all systems that operate within it. When your cells are sick, you get sick. When your cells age, you also age.
It’s imperative to protect our cellular health and take steps to avoid cellular degradation (the gradual breakdown of our cells over time).
One of the ways we can support our cellular health is by ensuring the integrity of cell membranes (the protective layer around our cells that keeps intruders out). As a polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3 is less able to fortify our cell membranes because it makes them susceptible to lipid peroxidation and subsequent breakdown.
There’s almost no way around it. Fish oil is fishy. It tastes fishy, gives you a fishy aftertaste, and usually causes fish burps which are hard to avoid even in “burpless” blends.
Plus, because your body doesn’t absorb as much omega-3 from a supplement as it does from the food you eat, you also have to consume massive amounts of omega-3 (usually 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day) to get enough.
Just like practically all supplements and food items, fish oil expires. However, it expires a lot sooner than you might expect, and much sooner than some labels may claim. A good rule of thumb is to consume your fish oil supplements within six months of purchase.
It can be difficult to tell if your fish oil has expired, but there are some clues you can look for.
- Heavy fish taste. If your capsules taste even fishier than usual, that’s a sign they could be rancid.
- Discoloration. Capsules or tablets that have a strange or uneven color can indicate expiration, but also damage. If the capsules are different, it’s best not to take them.
If you suspect you’ve taken fish oil capsules that are expired, don’t panic. You’ll likely be fine, but you can expect to experience some gastrointestinal discomfort like:
- Extremely bad fish burps
- Irregular bowel movements
- Stomach cramping and aching
- UTI symptoms
Once the fish oil has metabolized out of your system, the side effects should subside. This information may have you wondering if taking fish oil is still a good idea — it’s a valid thought, and the good news is thanks to fatty15, you have options when it comes to supplementing with essential fatty acids.
A Better Fatty Acid
Omega-3 was discovered more than 90 years ago by a husband and wife team of scientists. Incidentally, a doctor/scientist husband and wife team discovered the newest recognized essential fatty acid, C15:0 (pentadecanoic acid).
What Is C15:0?
C15:0, or pentadecanoic acid, is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid found in trace amounts mostly in whole fat dairy products like full fat butter and whole milk.
In 2021 alone, over 24 peer-reviewed studies were conducted that support C15:0’s benefits for healthier aging, from supporting healthy hearts to supporting healthy metabolism.*
What It Does
C15:0 works to support your health at the cellular level, where your health begins.* By deep diving into your cells, C15:0 strengthens and fortifies cells to help them function at their very best and regain some of the efficiency they’ve lost with age.*
- Cell membrane support. Those cell membranes that the omega-3 left flimsy and vulnerable? C15:0 integrates itself into them. A sturdy fatty acid, C15:0 helps increase cell membrane strength to defend itself against free radicals and other external stressors.*
- Mitochondrial support. Your cells’ mitochondria power them to carry out cellular functions. As we age, mitochondrial function declines, leaving our cells sluggish, slowing the processes of entire systems in our bodies. C15:0 increases mitochondrial function by up to 45%, helping our cells get the energy they need to give us the energy we need to thrive.*
Why It’s Better
Unlike omega-3, fatty15’s C15:0 supplement has zero taste. That means no fish burps, fish taste, or fish anything.
You’ll also need less of it than you do omega-3. Just 100 mg per day is enough to support your health at the cellular level.*
In addition to supporting your cells resilience (something omega-3 can’t offer), C15:0 supports heart health, helps balance your immunity, supports healthy metabolic function, and even regulates processes like sleep, appetite, and mood thanks to the way it activates regulatory receptors in our bodies called PPARs.*
The C15:0 ingredient in fatty15 is pure, easy to take, less prone to oxidation (in the bottle and your body), better made to support your cells with age, and makes a perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle.*
Where To Get It
It’s may not be ideal to consume more whole fat milk or full fat butter to get more C15:0 — it’s only found in trace amounts in these foods, and you’d have to consume extra calories, sugar in the form of lactose, and the other, not-so-healthy even-chain saturated fats to get to it.
Instead, there’s a supplement that contains just one ingredient, FA15™, the pure, vegan-friendly, sustainable form of C15:0. Fatty15 is the first and only pure C15:0 supplement, requiring only one small capsule a day to support your essential C15:0 needs..
Expired Fish? Get Fatty
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3s EPA and DHA, and has a shelf life of about six months. Omega-3 needs to be taken in large amounts, but if you take too much, it could cause negative health markers. Not to mention… a lot of people can agree that it just tastes and smells really bad.
Step into the newest discovery science has to offer for healthy aging and overall whole-body support with C15:0 in the form of fatty15.*
Fatty15 gives you the ability to support your health on the cellular level, get the benefits of an essential fatty acid supplement (and then some), and avoid the fishy ingredients and taste.*
Reviewed by Stephanie Venn-Watson DVM, MPH.
Stephanie Venn-Watson DVM, MPH
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Steph is a serial entrepreneur of for-profit and not-for-profit companies, a veterinary epidemiologist and public health scientist with over 40 patents and 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and previously served as an epidemiologist tracking diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
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