Omega-3 can offer you wonderful proven health benefits. This is the reason why omega-3 supplements have grown more and more popular. However, to get maximum health benefits you should only choose the best when you buy an omega-3 supplement.
There are 8 primary variables to consider when purchasing an Omega-3 Supplement.
A big concern when it comes to oily fish is mercury levels and PCBs. It is important that you choose an oil that meets the International standards for heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. The most effective and best purification process is molecular distillation. This is also very expensive, so rarely used by lower quality fish oils.
Omega-3 fish oils are prone to oxidation. which causes rancidity. Rancid oils are pro-inflammatory and therefore contribute to disease, rather than prevent it. It is vital that you choose a stable fish oil which will be odourless and have no fishy taste or smell.
In order to have the desired health effect, fish oil must contain an adequate amount of the long chain omega-3 derivatives EPA and DHA. Many fish oils and krill oils offer very little EPA and DHA, therefore you would have to take 10 x the pills to guarantee the desired effect. See levels required for approved health benefits below.
4: Health Effect:
Many brands offer a large amount of omega-3, however the levels of EPA and DHA may be small.
The chart below shows the minimum amount of EPA/ DHA required to obtain certain health benefits as set by the European Scientific Advisors for EFSA.
5: Nutritional Content:
A high quality fish oil will break down the amount of Omega-3, EPA, DHA and antioxidants present in the oil. Many products claim 1000mg Omega-3, however there may be only 10% EPA and DHA.
It is vital that you read the labels. A high quality fish oil will contain an antioxidant such as Vitamin E to prevent oxidation and stabilize the product. Stable fish oils are odourless and have no fishy smell or taste.
The ability to absorb the beneficial components of fish oil is based on its form. The more natural the structure, and the less it has been chemically altered, the better. There are currently 3 forms of fish oils on the market
1. Natural Triglyceride Oil : This is the oil as you would obtain if you squeeze the fish and extract the natural oil directly; it other words – its as nature intended. Natural Triglyceride fish oils are highly bioavailable.
2. Ethyl Ester Oil: This oil is chemically modified to achieve higher levels of EPA and DHA. Bio-availability of chemically modified oils is lower than natural triglyceride oils.
3. Synthetic Triglyceride Oil: This form occurs when natural triglycerides are converted to ethyl esters for concentration (as above), but then re-converted into synthetic triglycerides. The original position of the triglyceride’s carbon bonds change and the molecule’s overall structure is altered, which impacts the bioavailability of the oil.
4. Krill Oil: Technically not a fish, but a crustacean. Krill oil is the newest form of omega-3 available. Krill oil is marketed as being 20% better absorbed than fish oil, however krill oil offers as little as 25% of the EPA/ DHA available in fish oil. Therefore 200 mg omega-3 from krill oil is equivalent to 260 mg omega-3 in fish oil. However, fish oils can be 400% to 500% more potent than krill oil. While Krill oils contain approximately 250mg omega-3 in a daily dose, fish oils offer 1000mg + omega-3 in a daily dose.
New research shows that the absorption advantage of the triglyceride form is significant—up to 70% more than ethyl esters.1 which in turn is absorbed better than the synthetic triglyceride form.
Choose a natural triglyceride oil to enjoy superior absorption, and high EPA/ DHA so your body can properly utilize the oil for maximum benefits!
It is important to check that your fish oil is made from a sustainable source. With such a high demand for fish oil, it is important that manufacturers adhere to strict regulations and use sustainable fishing practices to protect future supply.
Does your fish oil hold certification of sustainability from an International body e.g. Friend of the Sea, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Krill oil is less sustainable than fish oil and there are great concerns about its future sustainability due to a recent surge in demand.
8: Cost/ Value
A product needs to be affordable as well as provide value for money.
Are you getting the EPA and DHA required to have a beneficial health effect as outlined in No. 4.
Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil and this is often justified due to greater absorption (+20%). However, the price tag is very high if you were to take the EPA/ DHA required to achieve heart, brain and vision benefits. To obtain the required levels, you would need to take 3-4 times the capsules recommended.
How much does a daily dose EPA/DHA cost?
Finding a quality omega 3 fish oil supplement may take a little investigating, but will be worth the time. Look for a molecularly distilled product. Make sure you are receiving the EPA/ DHA required to offer Heart, Brain and Vision benefits. Finally, look for a product that includes an antioxidant mixture to keep the product fresh, stable and odourless. Find a quality source and you’ll soon be on your way to increased health and well being!
From the Purest of the Seas, the Purest Omega-3
On the market for more than 20 years and with over 120 scientific studies, the Eskimo range represents probably the finest quality fish oil on the market, providing Omega-3 rich oil of legendary purity, freshness and stability. The oil is always from sustainable sources, and there is full traceability and quality control throughout the production process, from fishing boat to finished oil.
The company’s mission is to dispel the myth that Omega and fish oils are only needed by older people and to emphasise the importance of introducing Omega-3 to all ages as part of a balanced diet. The company have launched a new website full of useful information, which is 100% backed by extensive research.
Eskimo-3 is available in health food stores and pharmacies nationwide.
1. Dyerberg J, et al. Bioavailability of marine n-3 fatty acid formulations. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2010 Sep; 83(3):137–141.