Study shows not all fish oils created equal

Fish oil supplements, which have lots of omega-3 fatty acids

A recent report of various fish oil supplements found four out of 30 products to have quality problems. A handful of products, some of which are marketed for children, lacked key omega-3 ingredients advertised on the label. One product failed to list all of its ingredients, while another popular product that boasts high levels of omega-3s actually only contained small amounts.

The report comes from researchers at ConsumerLab.com.

“We found that more than 10 percent of the 30 products tested had a quality issue, such as less EPA or DHA than claimed or an incomplete list of ingredients,” said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com. “Interestingly, this is actually better than what we found in 2012, when about 30 percent of products failed tests and some were contaminated with PCBs.”

Fish oil is thought to be the most popular supplement on the market. Although the report, which has been conducted annually for more than a decade, actually found fish oil use to be down about 4.5 percentage points from 2012.

Cooperman advises consumers to understand why they’re seeking a fish oil supplement in the first place. For example, if you have the choice of eating fish twice a week or taking a supplement, Cooperman says there are more benefits to eating fish. But for people who don’t eat fish, finding a good supplement can be worthwhile.

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are well documented. They’re best known for staving off heart disease and have even been linked to improved mental health.

When shopping for a fish oil supplement, Cooperman suggests checking out the Supplement Facts label on the bottle to make sure the product actually states how much EPA and DHA is in it.   “You can actually get a high-quality fish oil supplement for as little as a few cents a day,” he said.

By Marianne Hayes

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