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Why Some People Get Fish Burps From Fish Oil Supplements + What To Do

Fish burps. How charming! This is a common side effect when you take fish oil supplements. While it seems to make sense considering you are taking a supplement sourced from fish, why doesn’t everyone suffer from this unglamorous inconvenience? Here we look at why you might get fish burps and what you can do to avoid them. (1)

What Is “Burping”?

Burping is very common, and not a symptom something is wrong. However, if you burp all the time, or have other GI symptoms, your burps might be related to a possible health issue. (2)

Fish Burps And Omega-3

Omega-3s offer many health benefits. You can enjoy improved heart health, cognitive function, vision and mental health by adding more fish to your diet. You can also take a fish oil supplement. However, if you are one of the 18% of people who suffer from fish burps, you might not be so enthused about taking fish oil omega-3 supplements. (1,3)

Fish Burps And Oxidation

Oxidation occurs when you ingest unsaturated fatty acids. Although fish oil supplements are often manufactured to help manage oxidation, studies show oxidized omega-3 oils don’t really produce negative effects. In fact, many omega-3 oils can positively affect body tissue. However, where the issue lies, is oxidation causing the fish oils found in supplements to go rancid. When this happens, EPA- and DHA-rich oils found in supplements are more likely to cause a fishy taste or odor. As well, the closer your fish oil supplements come to their expirations date, the more likely oxidation can occur. (3)

Fish Burps And Gastric Emptying

Another reason fish burps occur is having a slower “gastric emptying” process. How fast your stomach empties into your small intestine impacts your odds of getting fish burps. Slower gastric emptying allows those fishy remnants to settle in your stomach, because it takes longer for the particles in your stomach to break down. As a result, you can experience a fishy taste and smell when you burp. However, other issues can cause fish burps even if your gastric emptying tends to take place at a quicker pace including: (4,5,6,7)

  • Large meals
  • You’re eating too fast
  • Not chewing your food properly
  • Dehydration
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcohol

All of these things can cause even the fastest of gastric emptying to slow down. (1)

Fish Burps And The Quality Of Your Supplements

Keeping oxidation in mind, the quality of your fish oil supplements can also come into play when it comes to fish burps. When the product is not manufactured properly, or the brand doesn’t go above and beyond to prevent oxidation, spoilage occurs faster. “If the oil is lower quality and does not boast low oxidation parameters (like low rancidity, spoilage, and contaminants) via state-of-the-art processing, built-in antioxidants (like rosemary and/or tocopherols, aka vitamin E), and careful handling and storage, then any burp-back reflects a lack of freshness and purity,” says Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN. (1,3)

How To Stop Fish Burps

So is it possible to gain all the benefits of your fish oil supplements and avoid fish burps? Yes. You can reduce the risk of experiencing this unpleasant side effect by choosing a high quality fish oil supplement. This reduces your odds of swallowing oxidized, rancid oils. As well, the same things we listed above that can cause fish burps should be avoided. Taking your fish oil supplements with a large meal, with alcohol or carbonated drinks all increase the chance you’ll experience fishy burps. (1,3)

What To Look For In Fish Oil Supplements

When shopping for your fish oil supplements it helps to understand the ingredients, quality and characteristics that impact quality as well as what other ingredients you are consuming when you take them each day. Here are some things to look for in fish oil supplements:

  • Enteric Coating: Enteric coatings use chemical compounds to delay the release of the capsule. As a result, the fish oil is not released in your stomach, but instead in your small intestine. This is a common way brands avoid the fishy taste and burps. Just keep in mind they also include more chemicals. (1)
  • Botanical Oils: Another process brands might use, is to add natural botanical oils that help counter the unpleasant fishy smell and flavor. Lemon, rosemary and lime oils are a perfect example of natural ingredients you can look for on the label. This method can work well, and also uses natural additional ingredients as opposed to chemicals. (1)
  • GOED Voluntary Monograph: There is an organization that helps monitor and set standards for the fish oil supplement industry, the Global Organization for EPA & DHA Omega-3s (GOED). They believe in the health benefits of omega-3s and want to ensure consumers can access the highest quality products available. Their members are committed to producing quality products based on a higher standard than what the government recommends. These standards are considered the benchmark for quality. Look for the GOED proud member logo to find the highest quality products. (8,9,10)

Although these tips will help you find quality fish oil supplements, you also have to protect your capsules from oxidation. Store your fish oil in a cool place, keep the cap on tight, and don’t use capsules beyond their expiration date.

Other Possible Causes Of Fish Burps

Pay attention to other symptoms you experience along with frequent burping, fishy or otherwise. It’s important because lots of burping can indicate common stomach conditions that are manageable with the help of your doctor including: (11,12,13)

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Acid Reflux and GERD
  • Gastritis

Unfortunately you might just be one of the people likely to get more burpy after taking fish oil supplements. However, choosing a high quality fish oil supplement, and avoiding habits that can slow down your gastric emptying process will definitely help keep those fishy burps at bay.


  1. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-some-people-get-fish-burps-from-fish-oil-supplements
  2. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=d942c0f9-9489-43f6-826f-89f099754e62#d942c0f9-9489-43f6-826f-89f099754e62
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/lite.201600013
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/gastric-emptying 
  5. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=c07dc967-7283-4960-b031-1ed1b6662db4#c07dc967-7283-4960-b031-1ed1b6662db4
  6. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=a096b357-7a84-4478-acd0-98aef56a8bae#a096b357-7a84-4478-acd0-98aef56a8bae
  7. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=21c08602-2bed-45b3-a0be-b06c76428ee6#21c08602-2bed-45b3-a0be-b06c76428ee6
  8. https://goedomega3.com/
  9. https://goedomega3.com/goed-monograph
  10. https://goedomega3.com/about/proud-member-logo
  11. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=2e5aa514-ad40-4b1c-97f3-7d2488b52edf#2e5aa514-ad40-4b1c-97f3-7d2488b52edf
  12. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=bd7f4ef3-2a3b-4e6b-8504-134a9d08038d#bd7f4ef3-2a3b-4e6b-8504-134a9d08038d
  13. https://www.health.com/condition/digestive-health/cause-of-burping-health?slide=6448deac-43db-4bfa-b240-b00aa2528654#6448deac-43db-4bfa-b240-b00aa2528654 

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