Fish Oil Supplements – Complete Information About Their Rancidity, Longevity Etc

Does Fish Oil Expire?

For proper functioning of the human body, various kinds of nutrients are required. However, all the nutrition might not be available from foods that we intake. To compensate for the nutritional deficiency most people take various kinds of supplements. Fish oil supplements are one of the most common ones in this regard. Available in the form of capsules, soft gels as well as liquids, these supplements are high in demands with people. This is because these gels containing fish oil are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. There are many health benefits that are provided from this supplement.


Oxidation in fish oil

One very common question asked by people is does fish oil expire. Well, yes they do, they become rancid and hence become unsuitable for use. And one of the main reasons behind the problem is oxidation of the fish oil. You might know that almost all kinds of oils are vulnerable to oxidation; but fish oil is extra susceptible. When fish oil reacts with oxygen, an undesirable series of chemical reactions are initiated in the item and this leads to rancidity of the oil. DHA and EPA are polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are multiple double bonds between the carbon atoms in fish oil and this leads to instability of the oil. Strong, unpleasant odors are emitted from the pills, gels or whatever form the fish oil is in.


Since oxidation of fish oil gives out strong, unfavorable smells and flavors, it is easy to detect that the product has gone foul. Fresh fish oil will not have that fishy smell and taste. Only when the process of oxidation starts, all kinds of fishy tastes and smells start emanating. If you find that the fish oil supplements have slight fishy smell and taste, understand that minimum amount of oxidation has taken place in the same. In such a case, it is recommended to consume the supplements at the earliest.


You will notice that there are many companies which manufacture fish oil supplements. Visit a grocery or departmental store and you will see racks of such products. But the quality of all the products is not the same. And the quality depends on the minimum amount of oxidation that has taken place in the fish oil. Oxidation issue is a major problem in fish oil and hence producing high quality fish oil might not be as easy as it seems.


Tips while buying fish oil supplements

The process of oxidation in fish oil supplements start taking place the moment the supplement bottle is opened as the items come in contact with environmental oxygen. This you cannot avoid how much ever you try. But the process of oxidation can be controlled during the manufacturing and the storage process of the supplements.


When you go to buy fish oil supplements in the market, here are some things that you must keep into consideration:

  • Light is an important factor that can cause oxidation. It is recommended to store fish oil supplements in glass bottles that are dark in color. While purchasing these supplements, make sure you buy ones that are in dark colored glass bottles. Many companies pack these supplements in clear and transparent bottles. Refrain from purchasing such items. In clear bottles, the chances of oxidation are high as light exposure is more.

  • Along with light, temperature is also a great contributor to oxidation. It is recommended to store fish oil supplements under refrigeration once the bottle is opened. Refrain from purchasing bottles of liquid fish oil, which claim that there is no need for refrigeration after opening the seal of the bottle. This should compel you to think that something must be added to the oil so that oxidation at room temperature will not take place and this is definitely not pure fish oil.

  • It is recommended to purchase fish oil, which has added antioxidants to the same. Some of the most popular and common antioxidants that are used in such cases include rosemary extract, vitamin E and ascorbyl palmitate. Green tea catechins, which are useful extractions from green tea, also have strong antioxidant properties.

  • We all know that exposure to oxygen acts as a catalyst for oxidation. All throughout the manufacturing and production process, the manufacturer should keep the fish oil covered with nitrogen or with any other kind of inert gas so that oxygen exposure can be eliminated or curtailed as much as possible.

Majority of fish oil supplements have shelf life of 24 months from the date of manufacturing if they are stored properly. Though the products claim so, many of them fail to remain in good condition even within the expiration date.


Taking fish oil supplements with expired date – probable effects of the same

If you bought fish oil supplements some time back and have not used it, check the date of expiry before starting to take them. Also see that the product is in good condition or not. It is easy to detect if the supplement is in good condition or not as fish oil will give out very strong fishy taste and smell that is caused due to oxidation of the same when it is rancid.


Fish oil supplements that have crossed their expiry date might not be effective in treating the problem for which the supplement was recommended. Usually such supplements are recommended for serious patients like someone recovering from a heart attack, patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels etc. Apart from not being effective, the expired supplements might cause stomach upsets as well. Symptoms include loose stools, nausea, heartburn and belching.


What to do with expired fish oil supplements?

It is well understood that expired fish oil supplements are not suitable for consuming. However, there are effective expired fish oil uses. Throw away the expired supplements into compost and see how they add to the nutrition of the same. Do not use for any other purpose as they might cause serious side effects. Also purchase such supplements from trusted sources.