Salmon Oil: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on November 16, 2022
3 min read

Seafood is one of the best sources of health-promoting nutrients, including some that many people lack in their diet. Research shows that people who eat one to two servings fish like salmon per week reduce their heart disease risk by 36%.

The U.S. Federal Dietary Guidelines suggest Americans should consume at least 8 oz a week, but only 10-20% of Americans meet those guidelines.

Salmon oil is made from the fish’s healthy fats, known as omega-3 fatty acids. Taking salmon oil is an excellent way to get these essential nutrients if you don’t eat fish frequently or avoid it altogether. 

Salmon oil is available at many vitamin retailers. While clinical studies show that supplements like salmon oil are safe when taken as directed, all seafood has a risk of trace contaminants like heavy metals. Talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet and choose a reputable brand.  

A 3-gram serving of salmon oil contains: 

  • Calories: 25
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

It’s also an excellent source of both types of omega-3 fatty acids, which includes DHA and EPA

These omega-3s are only available in seafood. They can reduce the risk of heart disease and may promote healthy joints and brain function. 

Most people don’t get the recommended amount of omega-3s in their diet. Deficiencies are associated with a number of health problems, like heart disease, mood disorders, arthritis, and some cancers.

Adding salmon oil to your diet can help you get enough of these health-boosting nutrients. It may also offer other health benefits like:

Heart Health

Studies show that the omega-3s in salmon oil help lower triglyceride levels. High levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood, are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Salmon oil also increases “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels. This helps clear your arteries of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol that can build up in your blood vessels over time. HDL cholesterol also promotes strong and flexible artery walls. This supports healthy heart function and lowers disease risk. 

Lower Risk of Chronic Disease

Salmon oil’s omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties. While inflammation is your body’s natural response to stress and infection, high levels over time raise your risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and arthritis

By helping to reduce inflammation, research shows a diet high in omega-3s can help protect against these and other inflammation-related diseases.

Better Circulation

One study found that the omega-3s in salmon oil can improve your body’s blood flow and oxygen circulation. The effect is stronger compared to other omega-3 sources. Scientists think this is because the body converts omega-3s into nitric oxide, a substance that helps your blood vessels stay relaxed, flexible, and strong. 

Cognitive Support

Salmon oil is one of the best available sources of DHA. While research is ongoing, studies show that this omega-3 helps repair and maintain brain cells. Getting enough of this fatty acid in your diet may reduce your risk of cognitive decline, including conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.   

Eye Health

The omega-3 content in salmon oil may support eye health as well. One study showed that omega-3 supplements lowered the risk of eye problems like glaucoma and age-related vision loss

Salmon oil supplements are typically safe. However, you’ll want to choose a reputable brand to ensure a product is well-sourced and free from additives. Talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet. 

Salmon oil does come with some potential risks including:

Heavy Metal Contamination

All seafood has some contamination risk from toxins like heavy metals present in the water. Studies find only small or trace amounts in salmon oil, but only high doses may cause serious health issues. Some research suggests that farmed salmon may have less contaminant risk.

Seafood Allergy

Some people have an allergy to finned fish, including salmon. If you have shellfish allergies, you may be able to consume salmon safely. However, be careful to choose a salmon oil that has no risk of cross-contamination with shellfish.

Stomach Discomfort

In high amounts, omega-3 supplements like salmon oil can cause heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea. Take it only as directed.

Medication Interactions

Omega-3 supplements can interact with blood-thinning medications.