Before you buy a fish oil concentrate, it is important to learn what steps the manufacturer takes to insure purity and freshness. It is not possible to be “too” careful. Some of the supplements on the market are simply a waste of money, but others could actually be bad for your health.
In an independent laboratory analysis, traces of the banned pesticide DDT and the banned chemicals PCBs were found in a popular supplement known as Omega-Pure. Obviously, it isn’t that pure. Both of those chemicals are listed by the US EPA as probable human carcinogens.
From a strictly environmental standpoint, the fishing practices used by the company are hazardous to the ecosystem. They use vacuums to bring in thousands of tons of a species known as menhaden. It is a filter fish, crucial to places like the Chesapeake Bay. In 2007, at the time that the laboratory analysis was conducted, the company was the largest producer of omega3 fish oil concentrate in the United States.
The Environmental Defense Fund has created a list of the best choices for supplementation and the worst ones. While these supplements are generally recognized as safe, there are few regulations concerning contamination or oxidation. Adherence to standards for purity and freshness is strictly voluntary. In most cases, it is the less expensive supplements that are on the “worst” list.
Of the 75 companies surveyed by the Environmental Defense Fund, more than a third of them returned incomplete data or failed to adhere to the standards set by the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The standards set by the council are not as high as those set by individual companies, but at least, it is a starting point.
You can usually identify the best quality fish oil concentrate by visiting the manufacturer’s website. They should post a copy of a certificate of analysis, conducted by an independent laboratory. They should list the name of the laboratory that conducted the analysis and when it comes to impurities the report should say “not detected”.
There will be some level of oxidation in any supplement, but the level should be as low as possible. Oxidized oils contain free radicals and cause fishy-tasting burps. Basically, the oils are spoiled when they are encapsulated.
The supplements that are a simple waste of money are those that do not provide large amounts of omega3 fatty acids. A fish oil concentrate might contain a lot or a little. The manufacturers are not required to list the amount of omega3s that are present in the product. Nor are they required to list individual omega3s like DHA.
DHA is one of the most studied omega3 fatty acids. It is important for the health of the brain and the eyes. It has the highest degree of triglyceride reduction, which is beneficial to the heart. It has the most anti-inflammatory activity and it may reduce the risk of many age-related diseases.
You can only be confident about taking a fish oil concentrate if you take the time to do a little research about the manufacturer. The best companies proudly display their standards for purity, freshness and omega3 content. The worst ones appeal to you with a low price.