There are many stories circulating in the market about salmon oil. In order to bring some clarity to this matter, we focus on the facts pertaining to salmon oil in this article. This applies to all fresh salmon oil.

Most salmon oil (99%) is made from farmed salmon. This is because wild salmon is not available on a large scale. In addition, the use of farmed salmon has several advantages. For example, the quality of farmed salmon oil is much more consistent. The origin of the oil can be traced precisely by means of Tracking & Tracing. Furthermore, farmed salmon are fed a balanced diet, so the composition of their oil (fatty acid formula, etc.) is the same throughout the entire year, in contrast to the composition of the oil of wild salmon. Since this oil is made from salmon farmed especially for consumption, we can also argue that the use of this farmed salmon is more sustainable than the use of wild salmon. The term ‘biological availability’ crops up fairly often in the market. This refers to the amount of nutritional value of a product actually available to the animal. Studies show that the biological availability is the same for all salmon oil. The figure below presents a comparison of 3 different types of salmon oil. It shows that the amount of EPA in the eggs corresponds to the amount of EPA in the salmon oil.

EPA amount per egg(mg)
Figure 1. EPA amount per egg(mg)

EPA content in:
Norwegian salmon oil 5.7 m/m%
Scottish salmon oil 8.4 m/m%
Salmon oil X 4.0 m/m%
Control diet 4.0 m/m%

There is much discussion concerning the appearance of salmon oil. The suggestion has been made that fresh salmon oil is clear and orange. However, this is not always the case. In fact, fresh salmon oil (not refined or treated) naturally contains anti-oxidants such as astaxanthin. Astaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid group as do beta carotene and canthaxanthin, and colours the salmon oil dark red. Salmon oil is apt to become more oxidised as it ages. This makes the astaxanthin disappear and thus makes the salmon oil clearer and lighter in colour. One can make fresh salmon oil clearer and lighter by refining or treating it. In other words, very light salmon oil contains little astaxanthin. When the temperature drops, the behaviour of fatty acids in every oil changes so that the product becomes thicker and more turbid. The reason for this is that the various fatty acids have different solidification times. The higher the temperature, the clearer the oil. Fresh salmon oil has a fresh, fishy odour. This odour can be removed by means of refining (deodorising). The odour will become more pungent as the product is oxidised. The oxidation process is counteracted by the above-mentioned anti-oxidants already naturally in place, the addition of (natural) anti-oxidants and the storage/processing methods.

If you would like more information on salmon oil, please feel free to contact E.F.S.-Holland.