Is the Quality Of Your Fish Oil Supplement Up To Par? 7 Things To Keep An Eye On
Choosing to take a daily fish oil supplement to ensure your body receives a consistent supply of the important omega-3s EPA and DHA feels like a smart move for your health and well-being, and it is. We know from published research that over 90% of Americans do not consume the recommended amount of oily fish for general health, which is just two servings per week, says the author.
However, the supplement you choose is critical for a variety of reasons, ranging from potential health benefits to the health of the world's oceans. Given the large number of brands and different fish oil supplement options available, vetting and selecting a product can appear to be a much more difficult task than it appears.
Omega-3s are available in a variety of forms.
Natural and processed fish oil are available. The form of fatty acids can be affected by processing. This is significant because some forms are more readily absorbed than others.
- Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in whole fish as free fatty acids, phospholipids, and triglycerides.
- Fish oil is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found as triglycerides in conventional fish oils.
- Fish oil that has been processed. Food chemists often convert triglycerides into ethyl esters when refining fish oils, allowing them to adjust the concentration of DHA and EPA in the oil.
- Triglycerides that have been reformated. The ethyl esters found in processed fish oils can be converted back into triglycerides, resulting in "reformed" triglycerides.
Although all of these forms have health benefits, studies show that ethyl esters do not absorb omega-3 as well as the other forms — though some studies suggest they are equally well absorbed.
Fish oil in its purest form
This is the oil that comes mostly in the form of triglycerides from the tissue of oily fish. It's the closest thing to real fish you can get. Several important nutrients can be found in natural fish oil. The amount of omega-3s in fish oil, which includes both EPA and DHA, varies between fish species and ranges from 18 to 31 percent. Natural fish oil also contains vitamins A and D.
Natural fish oil can be found in a variety of foods, including salmon, sardines, herring, menhaden, and cod liver. These oils can be taken as capsules or as a liquid.
Fish oil that has been processed
Purified and/or concentrated fish oil is used in processing. It is made up of triglycerides or ethyl esters.
Purification removes contaminants like mercury and PCBs from the oil. Concentrating the oil can also boost the amount of EPA and DHA in the body. Some oils, in fact, may contain up to 50%–90% pure EPA and/or DHA. Processed fish oils account for the vast majority of the fish oil market because they are inexpensive and typically come in capsule form, which consumers prefer.
When processed fish oil is in the ethyl ester form, your body does not absorb it as well as natural fish oil. Ethyl esters, like triglycerides, appear to be more susceptible to oxidation and rancidity.
Some manufacturers, on the other hand, process the oil even further to return it to a synthetic triglyceride form, which is easily absorbed (1Trusted Source, 8).
Reformed (or re-esterified) triglycerides are the name for these oils. They're the most expensive fish oil supplements on the market, and they only account for a small percentage of sales.
Oil from krill
Antarctic krill, a small shrimp-like animal, is used to extract krill oil. Omega-3s are found in both triglyceride and phospholipid form in krill oil.
Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 is absorbed just as well — sometimes even better — from the phospholipids in krill oil as it is from the triglycerides in fish oil. Because krill oil contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, it is highly resistant to oxidation.
Furthermore, because krill are small and have a short lifespan, they do not accumulate a lot of contaminants. As a result, their oil is rarely found in the ethyl ester form and does not need to be purified.
Oil from green-lipped mussels
The green-lipped mussel is a New Zealand native whose oil is mostly made up of triglycerides and free fatty acids. It also contains trace amounts of eicosatetraenoic acid, in addition to EPA and DHA (ETA). This uncommon omega-3 fatty acid may be even more effective than other omega-3s at reducing inflammation. It is thought to be more environmentally friendly to consume green-lipped mussel oil rather than fish oil.
Oil from mammals
Mammalian omega-3 oil comes in the form of natural triglycerides and is derived from seal blubber. It contains relatively high amounts of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), an omega-3 fatty acid with several potential health benefits, in addition to EPA and DHA. Omega-6 levels in mammalian omega-3 oil are extremely low.
ALA (alpha lipoic acid) oil
Alpha-linolenic acid is abbreviated as ALA. It's omega-3s in a plant form. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds have particularly high levels of it. It can be converted into EPA or DHA by your body, but the process is inefficient. Omega-6s are also more abundant in most plant oils than omega-3s.
Oil from algae
Another source of EPA and DHA triglycerides is marine algae, particularly microalgae. In fact, the EPA and DHA in fish come from algae. Smaller fish eat it, and it moves up the food chain from there.
Algal oil, according to studies, is even higher in omega-3s, particularly DHA, than fish oil. Vegetarians and vegans will find it particularly useful. It could also have important minerals like iodine in it.
In addition, algal oil is thought to be environmentally friendly. It is free of contaminants like heavy metals, making it a sustainable and healthy option.
Omega-3 fatty acid capsules
Capsules or soft gels containing omega-3 oils are common. Consumers prefer these because they have no taste and are easy to swallow.
The capsules are typically made of a soft layer of gelatin, with enteric coating used by many manufacturers. The enteric coating prevents the capsule from dissolving before reaching your small intestine. This is common in fish oil capsules to keep fish burps at bay. It can, however, mask the noxious odor of rancid fish oil. If you take omega-3 capsules, it's a good idea to open one and smell it from time to time to ensure that it hasn't gone rancid.
When purchasing supplements, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Always read the label carefully when purchasing an omega-3 supplement. Also look over the following:
- Omega-3 fatty acid. The most important types of omega-3s, EPA and DHA, are rarely found in omega-3 supplements. Check to see if your supplement includes these.
- The amount of omega-3 in the body. On the front of a supplement, it may state that each capsule contains 1,000 mg of fish oil. On the back, however, it states that EPA and DHA are only 320 mg.
- Omega-3 in its purest form. Instead of EE, look for FFA, TG, rTG (triglycerides and reformed triglycerides), and PLs (phospholipids) for better absorption (ethyl esters).
- Authenticity and purity. Purchase products that have either the GOED purity standard or a third-party seal. These labels demonstrate that they are safe and contain exactly what they claim to.
- Freshness. Omega-3 fatty acids are prone to rancidity. They'll have a foul odor and become less potent, if not harmful, once they've gone bad. Always check the expiration date, smell the product, and look for antioxidants like vitamin E.
- Sustainability. Whenever possible, purchase fish oil that has been certified by the MSC, the Environmental Defense Fund, or another similar organization. Small fish with short lifespans have a better chance of surviving.
What are the best omega-3 supplements?
For most people looking to improve their health, a regular fish oil supplement is probably the best option.
However, keep in mind that natural fish oil typically contains no more than 30% EPA and DHA, leaving 70% for other fats. Supplements with a higher concentration of omega-3s are also available. The percentage of EPA and DHA in the body can be as high as 90%. Look for brands that contain omega-3s in the form of free fatty acids for the best results. Triglycerides and phospholipids are also beneficial.
Nordic Naturals, Green Pasture, Bio-Marine Plus, Omegavia, and Ovega-3 are a few reputable omega-3 supplement brands.
This is the top 4 omega 3 supplements
Last but not least
A regular fish oil supplement is probably enough for most people. However, double-check that the supplement contains exactly what it claims, with a focus on the EPA and DHA content.
Animal-based omega-3 products are the most common source of EPA and DHA. There are vegetarian options, but they usually only contain ALA. Algal oil, on the other hand, is an excellent source of high-quality omega-3s that is suitable for everyone, including vegans.
It's best to take these supplements with a fat-rich meal because fat aids in omega-3 absorption. Finally, keep in mind that omega-3s, like fish, are perishable, so buying in bulk is not a good idea.Omega-3s may be one of the most beneficial supplements you can take at the end of the day. Just make sure you make the right decision.