Essential omega-3 fatty acids get plenty of attention from researchers (and the media). And that’s great. Omega-3s are a big piece of the overall wellness puzzle.
But what about essential omega-6 fatty acids?
These guys don’t get much of the spotlight. However, we need a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy cell membranes, skin, joints, and hormones.
One of the best sources of omega-6 fatty acids is evening primrose oil (EPO).
EPO is known for its rich content of naturally occurring gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 essential fatty acid popular for inflammatory issues like eczema, arthritis, and PMS.
In this article, we’ll give you our list of the 9 best evening primrose oil supplements.
When choosing the best evening primrose oil supplements, we look for trusted brands and products made according to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for quality and safety.
We only list pure, cold-pressed oils. This is probably the most important thing when buying essential fatty acids.
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Best Overall Evening Primrose Oil Supplement: Sports Research Evening Primrose Oil
Best Evening Primrose Oil Drops: Nature’s Answer Liquid Evening Primrose Oil
Best Evening Primrose Oil Gummies: Carlyle Evening Primrose Oil Gummies
Best Evening Primrose Oil with Fish Oil: Nordic Naturals Omegas with Evening Primrose Oil
Best High-Concentration Evening Primrose Oil: Source Naturals EPO
Sports Research EPO uses a cold-pressed extraction process to ensure the purity and freshness of the delicate oil.
Each soft gel delivers 1300 mg of cold-pressed EPO standardized for 10% GLA. The GLA content is important because that’s the anti-inflammatory part.
Every batch is IGEN™ non-GMO tested, gluten-free, and kosher.
You can choose between bottles of 30, 120, or 240 soft gels.
Sports Research is a cGMP-compliant and third-party audited brand producing some of the highest-quality supplements on the market.
Overall, this is a convenient one-a-day supplement in an easy-to-swallow soft gel.
For the reasons listed here, Sports Research Evening Primrose Oil takes the #1 spot.
Grabbing third place is an excellent EPO supplement from Source Naturals.
Each soft gel delivers 1350 mg of cold-pressed, hexane-free EPO, yielding 135 mg of GLA. It’s the most concentrated amount of GLA on this list.
A bottle contains 120 soft gels and can last 1-4 months, depending on how many you take.
Now Super Primrose provides 1300 mg of cold-pressed EPO containing 120 mg of active GLA. It’s a potent dose ideal for skin, hormones, and joint health.
It’s non-GMO, kosher, and free from common allergens like yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, milk, egg, fish, or shellfish. But it’s not suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
A bottle contains 120 soft gels. You can pick it up for a great price on iHerb.
NOW has an NPA A-rated cGMP certification, which basically means all the manufacturing and testing processes are assessed.
Nordic Naturals are experts in premium cold-pressed essential fatty acid supplements.
Their Omega Woman with Evening Primrose Oil combines the benefits of omega-3 fish oil and EPO to support hormonal balance and promote healthy skin.
Each soft gel offers a blend of 500 mg of omega-3 from fish oil and 800 mg of evening primrose oil, yielding 76 mg of GLA.
The product is made with purified deep-sea fish oil sourced from anchovies and sardines, ensuring high-quality omega-3s in triglyceride form for better absorption.
Evening primrose oil, rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), further enhances the supplement’s effectiveness in supporting hormonal health and skin vitality.
There are 120 capsules per bottle, which lasts roughly 2 months. The soft gels are free from GMOs, gluten, milk derivatives, or artificial colors and flavors.
Nordic Naturals Omega Woman is certified sustainable and surpasses the strictest purity standards, ensuring you receive a product free from harmful contaminants.
The superior absorption, no fishy aftertaste, and commitment to purity make this supplement a top choice for women seeking to enhance their overall well-being.
Natural Factors Ultra Prim ticks all the boxes. It delivers non-GMO, cold-pressed evening primrose oil containing 10% GLA in soft gel capsules.
They use expeller pressing, gently crushing the seeds to release the oil. Not using heat or solvents preserves the stability and nutritional value of the oil. Their ultra-purification method also removes residues and impurities.
The product is third-party tested for purity, potency, and safety by ISURA. This is an independent Canadian natural health product verification and certification organization.
You can choose between 500 or 1000 mg in 180 or 240 soft gels.
Carlyle Nutritionals offers a unique and delightful way to incorporate EPO into your wellness routine with their delicious gummies.
Carlyle’s Vegan Evening Primrose Oil Gummies are naturally flavored with mixed berries, providing a delicious and sugar-free option for both men and women.
A 2-gummy serving contains 500 mg of EPO. Plus, it’s free of gluten, soy, dairy, or artificial ingredients.
The brand prides itself on sourcing the finest ingredients and utilizing advanced technologies to deliver premium, honest supplements. Their products are cGMP quality-assured and lab-tested in the US. These gummies are a testament to this commitment, designed for maximum support in your health journey.
On the downside, the amount of EPO per gummy is low, and they don’t state the amount of GLA. There is also no mention of third-party testing.
Nature’s Answer delivers 4. oz of pure cGMP-assured evening primrose oil with a dropper for easy use. It’s ideal for people who want a higher dose or those struggling to swallow capsules.
Half a teaspoon of oil delivers 2 grams of EPO containing 195 mg of GLA.
It also contains their Quick-Sorb® herbal blend of ginger, amla fruit, and capsicum fruit to support absorption.
It’s a great product, but I suggest chasing the oil with food to disguise the taste.
Nutricost Evening Primrose Oil contains 1300 mg of cold-pressed EPO per soft gel. It’s standardized to 10% GLA.
It is non-GMO and produced in a cGMP-compliant, FDA-registered facility in the USA. Plus, the product is third-party tested for added peace of mind. This ensures the product meets the highest standards of quality and safety.
Each bottle contains a generous supply of 120 soft gels, meticulously crafted to support your wellness journey.
NOW offers the same pure, cold-pressed evening primrose oil in strengths of 500 or 1000 mg per serving.
You can choose between bottles of 90 or 250 soft gels.
We rank the best evening primrose oil supplements. But you need to understand how we ranked them to make the best decision for your needs.
Here’s what we considered when making our list:
The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement industry. Unfortunately, this means dodgy products are everywhere.
We only feature companies that comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations.
We also prefer brands that conduct third-party testing and offer Certificates of Analysis (COA) upon request.
All the products on the list use cold-pressed EPO to avoid damage and ensure freshness. Each is pure, stable, and free from chemical solvents.
Given EPO’s less-than-pleasant taste, it’s usually in soft gel capsules. We’ve included a pure oil option for those who prefer it.
When it comes to supplements, it’s essential to consider the dosage. We chose supplements containing between 500–2000 mg of EPO per serving.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) concentration is key in EPO supplements. GLA is responsible for EPO’s anti-inflammatory effects. We focus on supplements with at least 10% GLA.
Good health shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. We look for products that are affordable but never compromise on quality.
Evening Primrose Oil is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid.
It’s derived from the seeds of the Oenothera biennis plant, which has bright yellow flowers that bloom at night, hence the name.
EPO contains omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and vitamin E.
Overall, GLA in EPO may regulate the inflammatory response. It’s converted into dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) – a precursor to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins E1.
Let’s look at a few of the health benefits of EPO.
As an inflammation mediator, EPO is a popular supplement for soothing eczema and atopic dermatitis.
In fact, research suggests people with eczema struggle to metabolize fatty acids and convert linoleic acid to active GLA (found in evening primrose oil). This explains why taking EPO may reduce skin dryness, itching, sensitivity, and redness in eczema sufferers.
That said, a meta-analysis found EPO is not more effective than a placebo for eczema.
While the results for eczema are mixed, it may still give you a healthy glow. This study found that 1500 mg of EPO daily reduced skin roughness and improved moisture, elasticity, and firmness.
Evening primrose oil may ease annoying PMS symptoms by stimulating anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. In fact, it’s one of the most popular women’s health supplements.
This study found EPO reduced PMS-related stress, sleep disturbances, sugar cravings, bloating, and sore breasts.
A review of 10 randomized controlled trials found EPO is an effective natural treatment for breast tenderness.
But, full disclosure, other studies have found it isn’t better than a placebo for PMS.
There is solid research linking polyunsaturated fatty acids found in EPO to heart health.
This 2020 review study found taking up to 4 grams of EPO daily lowered blood triglycerides and boosted HDL cholesterol levels. HDL transports other forms of cholesterol from your cells to your liver for detoxification (in short, they’re the good guys).
Got questions about supplementing with Evening Primrose Oil?
The answer is yes, probably.
A study from 1991 found that 6 grams of EPO improved morning stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
In 2011, a review study found that evening primrose oil reduces pain intensity and disability in RA.
That said, we could do with some updated research.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests EPO helps women going through menopause by supporting mood and reducing symptoms.
While the research is sparse, this study found it reduces the frequency, intensity, and duration of hot flashes during menopause.
Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) is a side-effect of uncontrollable blood sugar. It causes numbness, tingling, and burning in the hands and feet. It’s no fun at all.
This study of diabetics found that 500-1000 mg of EPO reduced nerve pain when combined with vitamin E.
Again, this isn’t a quick fix and may take several months to see improvements.
EPO is a popular supplement during the last weeks of pregnancy to help soften the cervix and prepare the body for smooth labor. That said, the research to support its effectiveness is still sparse.
As with any supplement during pregnancy, talk to your doctor to see if it’s safe for you.
EPO may reduce anxiety and other psychological symptoms during menopause (1).
EPO is a source of fat, so, unfortunately, some think this means it makes you fat.
Don’t worry; no evidence suggests that it causes weight gain. In fact, one study found that taking GLA may help prevent weight regain in formerly obese individuals.
Evening primrose oil and fish oil are both sources of essential fatty acids. However, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, essential for heart health and brain function.
EPO is an omega-6 fatty acid, primarily containing GLA. It does not contain omega-3 fatty acids.
While both oils offer health benefits, their composition and effects on the body differ significantly.
Having said that, algae oil may be a more efficient way to consume omega-3 fatty acids. We write about it here.
The best evening primrose oil supplements are those made with cold-pressed EPO and standardized for at least 10% GLA content. The best quality supplements are third-party tested and made in cGMP facilities to ensure safety and purity.
On our list, Sports Research Evening Primrose Oil takes the #1 spot.
The recommended daily dose for EPO can vary based on health goals.
However, most clinical studies use doses between 1000–3000 mg per day. That said, some studies safely use as much as 8 grams for skin issues like eczema.
Supplements typically offer 500–1300 mg per serving. You can adjust your dose based on your needs.
Follow the recommended dosage on the label and consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
You can take evening primrose oil at any time of the day that works for you. Ideally, take it with meals to enhance absorption and minimize potential gastrointestinal discomfort.
That said, some people find taking it in the evening with a meal minimizes digestive side effects.
Some people may experience mild side effects like nausea, an upset stomach, and heartburn after taking EPO.
In addition, it has blood-thinning properties and may not be suitable for people taking blood-thinning medication or those scheduled for surgery.
Overall, the risks are low but talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Store your EPO in a cool, dark place to minimize oxidation (the fridge is ideal). Keep the bottle well-sealed to support freshness and potency.
EPO may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Consult a healthcare provider for advice on potential interactions before starting any new medication.
Yes! While there is a lot of chatter about EPO and women’s health, that’s not the only use. The GLA in evening primrose oil can have anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for both men and women. It’s ideal for men dealing with skin issues or pain from arthritis.