The 7 Best Fish Oil for Kids of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Omega-3 supplements for your little ones

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA at Amazon

"It's sourced from 100% wild Arctic cod and contains no artificial colors or flavors."

Best Budget: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Chewable Soft Gels at Amazon

"These soft gels can be chewed or swallowed and are delicious with no fishy aftertaste."

Best Liquid: Carlson Kid’s Norwegian The Very Finest Fish Oil Omega 3s at Amazon

"It also includes vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage. "

Best Toddler: Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Beginner’s DHA at iherb.com

"It is Contents Certified by the NSF and free of mercury, PCBs, and heavy metals."

Best Capsule/Soft Gel: EQUAZEN PRO Fish Oil for Kids at Amazon

"It uses anti-reflux technology to prevent fishy burps."

Best Multi with Fish Oil: Smarty Pants Multivitamin with Omega-3 at Amazon

"This contains 15 other essential nutrients for growing kiddos, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, zinc, folate, and B vitamins."

Best Infant: Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA at Amazon

"The dropper makes it easy to measure the right amount and add to formula, breastmilk, or directly into the baby's mouth."

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that the body can’t make, so it must be consumed through food or supplements. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

DHA and EPA are found in fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines, while ALA is found in plant-based sources like walnuts, flaxseed, tofu, canola oil, and chia seeds. ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in the body, but the process isn’t very efficient, so it’s recommended to consume DHA and EPA directly.

Omega-3s help cells and hormones function properly and are particularly important in pregnancy because they are needed for brain and eye development of the growing fetus, especially in the second and third trimester. Young kids also need omega-3s as their brains continue to develop. Omega-3 supplementation has been linked to improvement in mood disorders, prevention of asthma and eczema, and reduced risk of heart disease. In addition, emerging research shows that omega-3s may help improve learning, memory, attention, and behavior in children, especially those with ADHD. 

Before buying a fish oil supplement, try food first. When kids eat fish like salmon, for example, they don’t only get DHA and EPA but also vitamin D and protein. When children eat nuts and seeds, they get omega-3s from ALA but also vitamin E, protein, and fiber. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that children eat fish one to two times per week. Get creative by making salmon or tuna cakes, tuna salad, or use a sweeter marinade like maple dijon to coat the salmon. 

If you can’t get your kiddo to eat any fish, a fish oil supplement can help them reach their needs. Always speak with your pediatrician before giving your kids supplements. There are many options on the market, including liquid, gummy, and capsules. However, the supplement industry isn’t strictly regulated, so it’s important to know what to look for so you not only get the nutrients you need but avoid harmful ones too. Luckily, we did the vetting for you. 

Here, the best fish oil supplements for kids:

Best Overall: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA

Courtesy of Amazon

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA comes in two forms: a liquid and a chewable soft gel. The liquid wins best overall because it delivers 530 milligrams of total omega-3s (170 milligrams from EPA, 255 milligrams from DHA, and 105 milligrams from other omega-3s) all in just half a teaspoon. Because there is no chewing involved, younger children can take this supplement, and it’s recommended for ages 1 to 6. With orange and strawberry flavors, your child can drink it plain, or you can mix it into milk. 

Nordic Naturals Children's DHA is sourced from 100% wild Arctic cod and contains no artificial colors or flavors. All Nordic Naturals fish oils are made in the triglyceride form, which is the form naturally found in fish and that the body can most easily absorb.

Nordic Naturals adheres to strict purity standards, prioritizes sustainable sourcing, and all supplements are third-party tested. Remember to refrigerate after opening.

Best Budget: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Chewable Soft Gels

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Chewable Soft Gels

Courtesy of Amazon

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Chewable Soft Gels are similar to the brand's liquid DHA but cost less. Recommended for ages 3 to 6, these strawberry soft gels can be chewed or swallowed and are delicious with no fishy aftertaste. The serving size of four soft gels has 80 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA to support your young child’s growing brain. 

Just like its liquid DHA counterpart above, the chewable soft gels are non-GMO, third-party tested and made from 100 percent wild Arctic cod in the most absorbable triglyceride form. They’re also gluten and dairy-free.

Best Liquid: Carlson Kid’s Norwegian The Very Finest Fish Oil Omega 3s

 Carlson Kid's The Very Finest Fish Oil Liquid

Courtesy of Amazon

This liquid fish oil supplement from Carlson Labs delivers a whopping 800 milligrams of omega-3s in just half a teaspoon—with 400 milligrams of EPA and 250 milligrams of DHA. Carlson sources high-quality, deep, cold-water fish, specifically using anchovies, sardines, and mackerel in this supplement. It also includes vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage. 

Quality and freshness are of utmost importance at Carlson Labs, where they closely monitor production from sea to store, ensuring that no nutrients are lost in the process. They use a nitrogen flush to remove oxygen and prevent oxidation of the fish oil.

Carlson Labs fish oil products are IFOS and IGEN non-GMO certified, plus have won several taste awards, so your kids are sure to find it delicious, whether they choose lemon or orange. Be sure they take it with food.

Best Toddler: Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Beginner’s DHA

 Wiley's Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Beginner's DHA

Courtesy of Amazon

Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil is United States owned and operated and one of the only fish oil supplement companies that is Marine Stewardship Council Certified. With 400 milligrams of EPA and 250 milligrams of DHA per serving, this fish oil supplement was made with littles in mind.

Wiley's recommends that children ages one and up take half a teaspoon daily, which delivers the omega-3s needed for kids rapidly developing brains, 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D, and an advanced form of vitamin K2 that supports bone growth.

The Beginner’s DHA comes in a tasty strawberry watermelon flavor and is great mixed into smoothies or yogurt, which is easy to do since it comes with a syringe. It’s recommended to take with food.

Wiley’s Finest fish oil is Contents Certified by the NSF and free of mercury, PCBs, and heavy metals.

Best Capsule/Soft Gel: EQUAZEN PRO Fish Oil for Kids

EQUAZEN PRO Fish Oil for Kids

Courtesy of Amazon

EQUAZEN PRO fish oil supplements are clinically researched and specifically designed to improve behavior and learning in children ages five and older, particularly those with ADHD. Along with DHA and EPA, these supplements contain the omega-6, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which other fish oil supplements lack. EQUAZEN deems this ingredient critical for ensuring the proper omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in the body. The right ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s keeps the brain working properly and keeps inflammation low, but studies show that children with ADHD have a higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

EQUAZEN PRO aims to flip the ratio and improve symptoms for kids with ADHD. And their 19 clinical trials over the past 15 years are showing promising results. In one study, children had a reduction in ADHD symptoms after taking EQUAZEN alone or alongside conventional ADHD medication, but those who were taking medication and the fish oil saw the most improvements. 

EQUAZEN PRO is considered a medical food and must be taken under the supervision of a doctor. It’s recommended for kids five and older take two soft gels per day. EQUAZEN uses anti-reflux technology to prevent fishy burps, and its supplements are non-GMO and free of milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and gluten.

Best Multi with Fish Oil: Smarty Pants Multivitamin with Omega-3

SmartyPants Kids Complete Vitamin Gummies

Courtesy of Amazon

If you want your child to get a bunch of nutrients in one supplement, opt for this multivitamin from Smarty Pants that includes 100 milligrams total of DHA and EPA sustainably sourced from wild-caught fish. While it doesn't have as many omega-3s as other fish oil supplements, it contains 15 essential nutrients for growing kiddos, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, zinc, folate, and B vitamins. If your kid eats some fish, but you want to boost Omega-3s a little more and ensure they get enough of other important nutrients, Smarty Pants is a good option.

Smarty Pants Multivitamin with Omega-3 has 100% of the daily value of vitamin D, a nutrient crucial for growing bones that’s hard to get during the winter. It also has 75% of the daily value of vitamin B12, which helps the body produce energy and is mainly found in animal products. If your child eats a mostly plant-based diet, they could be lacking in vitamin B12.

The serving size for children ages 4 and up is four gummies. Your kids will probably be asking for them since they come in delicious flavors like lemon, orange, and strawberry banana. You can feel good giving them, as you won’t find any synthetic colors, artificial sweeteners or flavors, preservatives, GMOs, soy, gluten, wheat, eggs, peanuts, dairy, or high-fructose corn syrup in these.

Note, these gummies do have 5 grams of sugar per serving. The good news is children can take them with or without food. If product purity is of concern, SmartyPants vitamins have been awarded the Clean Label Project's Purity Award and Clean Label Certifications.

Best for Infants: Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA

Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA

Courtesy of Amazon

During pregnancy, omega-3s are transferred from mom to baby via the placenta. After birth, babies continue to need adequate amounts of DHA because infancy and toddlerhood are crucial times for growth and development. Research shows that lack of adequate omega-3s during this time can have long-term impacts on health throughout childhood, impacting behavior, attention, cognition, test scores, and more.

Breastmilk transfers DHA from mom to baby, but not all moms get adequate DHA. Some formulas contain DHA, but supplements can help boost intake.

Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA contains 485 milligrams DHA and 350 milligrams of EPA, along with 75% of the daily value of vitamin D recommended for babies from birth to 12 months. The dropper makes it easy to measure the right amount and add to formula, breastmilk, or directly into the baby's mouth.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for an excellent and pure omega-3 for kids, try Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA in liquid (view at Amazon) or chewable soft gel (view at Amazon). For a gummy multivitamin that tastes great and also contains omega-3s, consider SmartyPants (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in Fish Oil for Kids

Form:

Look for DHA and EPA in the ingredients list. For optimal absorption, choose supplements that contain these omega-3s in triglyceride form, which research shows may be better absorbed.

Dosage:

There are no set recommendations for how much DHA and EPA is needed for children. It’s recommended that babies up to one year of age get 500 milligrams of total omega-3s per day. The National Academy of Medicine has outlined ALA recommendations for older kids. See the chart below in the FAQ section.

Quality Assurance:

Supplement companies have different manufacturing standards and sustainability practices, which most outline on their websites. Look for sustainably sourced wild-caught fish and for supplements that have been third-party tested or are certified by outside organizations, such as the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) or Friends of the Sea

Other Ingredients: 

Look for fish oil supplements without added preservatives, colors, or flavors. Some fish oil supplements are sweetened with sugar alcohols, like xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol, which may cause stomach distress.

FAQs

How much fish oil is appropriate for kids? 

Always speak with your child's pediatrician to deem whether and how much fish oil is appropriate for your child's individual needs.

From birth until one year of age, 0.5 grams (500 milligrams) per day of omega-3s are recommended. For ages 1 to 18, no specific recommendations for DHA and EPA have been set, but the National Academy of Medicine has outlined adequate intakes for ALA. For ages 1 to 3, 700 milligrams per day of ALA is recommended for males and females. For ages 4 to 8, 900 milligrams per day of ALA is recommended for males and females. For ages 9 to 13, the IOM recommends 1,200 milligrams ALA for males and 1,000 milligrams for females. For ages 14 to 18, the IOM recommends 1,600 milligrams ALA for males and 1,100 milligrams for females.

Some argue that the levels set by the recommendations are too low and that higher doses appear to be safe and possibly more effective in improving outcomes like behavior in children. 

Is fish oil safe for kids?

Always check with your child's pediatrician first, but in general, it is safe for children to take fish oil supplements. Fish oil comes from fish, so you will need to be careful if your child has food allergies, particularly to fish. There is some concern about the quality of the fish used to make fish oil supplements, as products can potentially have harmful ingredients. Do your homework and select a high-quality, third-party tested product that is approved by your child's pediatrician.

What Experts Say

“When buying a fish oil supplement, it's most important to make sure that it contains DHA and EPA and that the majority of the supplement is comprised of those two omega-3s. That said, most fish oil supplements only have a few hundred milligrams of EPA and DHA, and the daily recommendation is higher. Plus, that recommendation is for ‘adequate intake,’ which to put it simply, is the bare minimum amount you should get. That said, if your child's fish oil supplement is supplementary to a diet that includes seafood, then they are probably meeting, or slightly exceeding, the recommendation.” —Brierley E. Horton, MS, RD

Why Trust Verywell Family?

As a dietitian with a food-first approach, Lainey Younkin is careful when recommending supplements. She only backs supplements from reputable brands that value clinical research, quality, purity, and sustainability. She would be comfortable recommending these supplements to her patients or giving them to her own children.

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Article Sources
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