Answer:

The amount of fat in a fish oil supplement is only about 1 gram. While that might help a little, studies which have shown increased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins have involved taking them with a high-fat meal (i.e., about 15 grams or more -- that's at least 3 teaspoons of oil or other fats). Most meals provide at least 5 grams of fat (the amount of fat in a single egg, for instance), while a tuna wrap with mayo can have 40 grams.

In the case of vitamin D, taking it with a meal has increased absorption by 32% to 57% compared to taking it with just water. The bigger (and fattier) the meal, the better — at least for absorption! 

Of course, you can also purchase special formulations of some fat-soluble vitamins and other supplements which enhance their absorption — in some cases, even more than taking them with fats. These are described in our reviews of CoQ10, curcumin and vitamin D. Other supplement ingredients which are fat soluble and are best absorbed with fats are vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K, as well as astaxanthin and boswellia (and its key component AKBA).

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4 Comments

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Irene17844
May 13, 2019

This was my experience: I was trying to bring up my vitamin D levels - so I was taking Vitamin D capsules with my Slim Fast drink every morning. My Vitamin D levels didn't go up. When I realized I wasn't taking enough fat with the Vitamin D, I started taking two fish oil tablets with my Slim Fast. After 6 months or so, I checked my Vitamin D levels again, and they had come up nicely. This was a number of years ago. These days I take Vitamin D with meals containing some fat. I don't drink Slim Fast anymore and don't take fish oil very often... but that was my experience back when I did.

Ryan11458
December 5, 2016

I'm pretty sure you increase the absorption of the fish oil by taking that with fat as well. Don't be afraid of fat it's good for you :-)

ConsumerLab.com
December 5, 2016

Yes, that's correct, Ryan -- particularly for certain forms of fish oil. This is described in more detail in the tips about "Forms of fish oil" in the Fish Oil Supplements Review at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/fish_oil_supplements_review/omega3/#forms.

ConsumerLab.com
December 5, 2016

Yes, that's correct, Ryan -- particularly for certain forms of fish oil. This is described in more detail in the tips about "Forms of fish oil" in the Fish Oil Supplements Review at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/fish_oil_supplements_review/omega3/#forms.

Stephen11456
December 4, 2016

I add a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil to my shake every morning. That seems to help with the absorption.

Marty16419
February 4, 2018

How can you tell its helping with absorption? Can you be more specific than "seems to help"?

Louis11454
December 4, 2016

Great info thank you very much.

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