Fish oil supplements – How to choose the best one
There are so many brands out there, and so much misleading information all over the place. Here we will take an in depth look at how to truly select a fish oil supplement that is safe, high in quality, and effective. Read through this. Some of these points may be much less obvious than you think…
What you need to understand and what to look for:
1. Make sure the fish oil is extremely low in heavy metals, PCB’s, and other toxins
This is very important. If you are taking a fish oil which is high in any of these toxins, it is much worse than not taking anything at all.
We know the oceans are extremely polluted from continuous industrial dumping. Unfortunately, our fish live in these waters, and these fish become very contaminated with mercury, lead, cadmium, and even PCB’s.
Large fish, which are the highest on the food chain and generally quite tasty to eat, are often sadly the highest in mercury and other toxins.
Here is a pretty extensive list of fish and their mercury levels
The GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3’s) sets international standards for a wide variety of high quality fish oils. You can see their standards here
It is also important to note that you should ensure companies take the extra series of steps required to remove any remaining mercury and other toxins from the raw fish oil. It is not enough to just look at the list of fish and choose an oil based on that list alone. It is possible to distill out the vast majority of the remaining toxins from the raw oil, but this process costs more and a lot of brands don’t do it.
***We exceed these GOED standards, often by a factor of more than 10 to 20, when it comes to ensuring the lowest mercury, lead, cadmium, and PCB levels. We take this extremely seriously and want to make sure you are getting absolutely as little as possible of these toxins.
***Mercury consumption is harmful to everyone. It is even more harmful to pregnant and nursing mothers.
Takeaway: Look for a brand you trust which also does 3rd party lab testing. Also look for the source of the oil. We use the oil from fresh anchovies in the clean waters of Iceland. Anchovies are known to be extremely low in mercury and other toxins. We also use safe and natural processes to distill and remove any remaining toxins further. There is virtually zero of these toxins in our products.
Remember: The amount of mercury won’t be listed on any label. It’s not an ingredient. So you need to do your homework and look at where the oil is coming from, and how it’s being processed.
2. Make sure the fish oil is high in overall Omega 3’s, as well as high in both DHA and EPA.
Ok, so we know that high quality fish oil has a wide variety of health benefits.
Answer: It’s largely the high levels of omega 3 fatty acids – specifically DHA and EPA. Other high omega 3 oils like flax oil for example have very low levels of DHA and EPA. Note: Flax oil is high in ALA (another type of omega 3), but the ALA converts to DHA very poorly.
And for fish oil, we’re really looking for high DHA and EPA to get most of the benefits.
A lot of fish oil on the market (most of it to be honest) is labeled “Fish Oil” in big letters on the bottle. The problem is that it’s often a blend of fish oil mixed with other inferior oils, or it is just a cheaper type of fish oil which is low in “the good stuff”, namely DHA, EPA, and other Omega 3 fatty acids.
Note: Any type of raw fish oil is actually relatively low in DHA and EPA. If you want to get high levels of DHA and EPA you need to process the oil to “concentrate” the DHA and EPA into much higher levels. As noted above, if this processing is done well, it is also possible to remove essentially all of the mercury and other heavy metal toxins that may have been in the raw oil in the first place.
Each capsule of our fish oil for example, has 240 mg of DHA, 340 mg of EPA, and 620 mg of total Omega 3 fatty acids. We also mix it with a little bit of natural lemon oil (more on that below) to make it taste and smell a little better, and help eliminate any “fish burps” or bad aftertaste.
3. Look for the fish oil to be in the natural “triglyceride form” and not the “ethyl ester” form.
The first 2 points may have been somewhat obvious. But what is this with the triglyceride form?
Most people don’t even know to look at this factor at all. It usually isn’t in the marketing material or anywhere on the labels. Most people however do know that if your doctor tells you that you have high triglycerides in your blood, then that is a bad thing. This is completely different though.
We are talking about the form the fish oil is in.
We have another extensive article on the main differences between triglyceride and Ethyl Ester form if you are interested, but here we just want to discuss the main points.
The triglyceride form of fish oil has been shown to absorb much better in the body than ethyl ester form. It is also a form found in nature.
It is more expensive to convert concentrated fish oil into the triglyceride form, and since most consumers don’t know to look for this, it leaves a financial incentive for companies to leave the fish oil in the ethyl ester form and save money.
When we did our own research, we decided to pay the extra money to put our fish oil in the triglyceride form since it really is superior for absorption, and we’re always looking for absolute top quality.
Takeaway: Triglyceride form is more natural, and absorbs significantly better than ethyl ester form. Look for triglyceride form on the label. If you don’t see it mentioned, it is almost certainly in ethyl ester form since the vast majority of concentrated fish oil on the market is in the ethyl ester form, and it almost always goes unlabeled.
Note: Our fish oil is in a triglyceride form that even exceeds the GOED standards.
4. Look for your fish oil to be flavored with natural lemon oil and put in quality capsules that won’t break in the bottle. (Also: why caps may be better than liquid)
Ok, this last point isn’t entirely necessary, but it is certainly worth mentioning. Fish oil by itself smells like, well, fish oil. It isn’t the most pleasant thing to smell, taste, or burp up. People won’t love it on your breath either.
This is why we’ve taken steps to make our fish oil taste and smell as good as possible.
We used natural distillation processes to purify the fish oil and deodorize it. Then we added natural lemon oil to both the fish oil itself, and put lemon oil into the capsule material.
We also made sure the fish oil is in very strong and high quality capsules. You never want fish oil capsules to break inside the bottle. You’d be surprised how poor some of the lower quality brands are in this department. One broken capsule will ruin the entire bottle.
We also made the capsules 1 gram each. If the caps are too large, some people have trouble swallowing them. You don’t want fish oil stuck in your throat. So that is something else you may wish to pay attention too.
Some people have argued that fish oil in a glass bottle is superior to the capsules since you are getting fish oil only and not ingesting any capsule material, but we have found that our high quality capsules are better overall.
The reason for this is that fish oil can go bad or rancid very quickly (even in the fridge or freezer) if it is exposed to any oxygen at all. So if your fish oil is in a glass bottle, then as soon as you open the bottle to take your first dose, the rest of the bottle will continue to be exposed to oxygen. Our capsules make the fish oil last significantly longer (literally years longer) because they keep the oil completely away from any oxygen. So when you take our capsules you are getting extremely fresh oil every time.
We spent 2 years researching and sourcing the best fish oil product we could possibly get. We paid attention to every detail and we believe you will absolutely love it and really notice the wide range of health benefits.