Choosing The Best Fish Oil Supplement
Avoids PCBs and Other Contaminants
Choosing the best fish oil supplement suddenly became a more significant decision when the world’s largest producer of omega-3 fish oil was sued on March 2, 2010 under California Proposition 65 for not telling consumers that their products contained toxic levels of polychlorinated bipheny (PCBs).
Subsequent discoveries of PCBs in some fish oil products on market shelves threatens consumer trust. Alarming percentages
of failed quality and safety inspections by dietary supplement makers, including producers of adulterated fish oil, waves a big caution flag to consumers.
In a seven-year period, nearly two-thirds of all supplement companies inspected failed to pass the most elementary of the industry’s safety guidelines. From 2010 through 2016, government inspectors found an average of 65.3% of dietary supplement makers in non-compliance of industry safe-manufacturing rules.(10)(11)
Failed inspection observations result in Form 483 letters that notify the recipient of the detected violations and frequently address supplement problems with many, if not all, of a manufacturer’s product line. Many omega-3 supplement makers also market other supplements.(12)
One cannot in good faith argue that omega-3 manufacturers fail fish oil safety regulations at approximately the same percentage as supplement makers of other products. But research turns up many examples where omega-3 fish oil safety may have been compromised for unwary consumers attempting to relieve symptoms of arthritis and other health issues.
Want the best fish oil supplement? Watch out for PCBs
A 2013 journal study of fish oil safety, Children’s daily exposure to PCBs from dietary supplements containing fish oils, detected PCBs in all 13 over-the-counter children’s dietary supplements containing fish oil they assessed. The study was published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants.(7)
A 2014 article Are your omega-3 supplements bogus? in Prevention Magazine by Markham Heid commented on a report from LabDoor, a private company that tests consumer health products, that showed many fish oil supplements skimp when it comes to their omega-3 content—meaning you’re not getting what you pay for.(9)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the resources to conduct facilities inspections annually of only a fraction of more than 13,000 registered supplement companies. When serious quality and safety violations are uncovered, FDA issues a formal Warning Letter to the manufacturer. Between 2013 to 2017 they sent Warning Letters to ten fish oil producers, nearly all for adulterated omega-3 supplements.(13)
(On this website we have stressed that not all supplements are equal in quality. Not all have been equally tested for purity and potency. That’s why my husband and I put our trust in the best fish oil supplement we’ve found for our heart and arthritis joints from the #1 natural nutrition company in America.)
Omega Protein sued for fish oil PCBs in California
The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation introduced the aforementioned 2010 lawsuit, along with two other plaintiffs, filed in the California Superior Court in San Francisco. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants are marketing products containing PCB levels that exceed the law's limits for human consumption of these contaminants, and illegally failing to disclose this to consumers on product labels.
PCBs are colorless and odorless chemicals that were widely used in electrical transformers and other industrial applications before they were banned by Congress in 1979. Most PCBs in the environment end up in rivers, streams, lakes and, ultimately, the oceans. Once there, PCBs enter the food chain. Health experts recommend choosing small cold-water fish, which have lesser exposure to PCBs.
California is the only state that requires labeling to warn consumers a product may contain trace amounts of PCBs, a toxic, man-made chemical tied to cancer and birth defects.
The defendants in this lawsuit were the world-leading Omega Protein, a Houston-based company, and the many companies that they produced fish oil for – companies like Rite Aid, DVS, GNC, Now Health Group, Pharmavite, Solgar and Twinlab.
The Mateel group only tested 10 omega-3 supplements manufactured by Omega Protein to date and found PCBs in all of them, ranging from 12 nanograms a day to more than 852 nanograms a day, based on the daily recommended dose written on the labels. Mateel plans to continue testing and to add other companies to the lawsuit if their products are also contaminated. The allegations in the lawsuit have not yet been proven in court.
What can I do as a consumer to find the best fish oil supplement?
If you’re looking for the best fish oil supplement, I believe that if you find the best dietary supplement company you’ll also find they manufacture the best supplements on the market.
When a product’s efficacy is proven, the science behind its formulation is the reason. Therefore, dietary supplement
manufacturers that build products from a strong science base will likely build the most efficacious products.
I’ve developed a list of 30 questions to determine what standards of excellence you should expect when choosing a natural or herbal supplement company. If the company you’re using (or thinking about using) doesn’t measure up with “yes” answers to all 30 questions, you haven’t found the best supplement manufacturer and probably not the best natural products.
The answers to the questions led me to find one dietary supplement company that stands alone with 135 published medical journal studies. Quality is their middle name, and they’ve been a quality leader since 1956.
What quality testing should I look for in the best fish oil supplement?
Testing methods are of utmost importance If a manufacturer is trying to produce the best fish oil supplement, For example, the company we use features a pharmaceutical grade state-of-the-art, proprietary, triple molecular distillation process that concentrates natural beneficial omega-3 fatty acids:
- Step 1: Temperature and duration controlled processing protects integrity of the finest quality fish oils.
- Step 1: Minimizes thermal heat degradation.
- Step 3: Low temperature distillation process helps remove saturated fats, yielding pure, highly concentrated essential omega-3. Impurities and contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs (often found in fish and fish oils) are removed.
The process produces a healthier fish oil by suppressing formation of dangerous trans fats. It’s free of saturated fat and cholesterol.
The featured best fish oil supplement provides a full spectrum of seven ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acids, naturally found in fish, to help maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.*
One daily serving size of 2 softgels provides 1,200 mg of natural fish oil, including 363 mg of EPA, 240 mg DHA plus 64 mg of five other naturally found fatty acids (docosapentaenoic, stearidonic, eicosatetraenoic, heneicosapentaenoic, and alpha-linolenic acids). It is bioavailable, low odor, no aftertaste, easy to digest and gluten free.
Note: It's label reads: "Take 2 softgels one or two times daily with meals". This confirms that it is entirely safe to take four softgels daily.
What scientific research should I expect in the best fish oil supplement?
My experience with typical dietary supplement manufacturers is that most hide behind someone else's scientific studies or clinical trials related to their products because they have very few (or don’t have any!) of their own. My recommendation is to find a company that’s proud of the research, development, science and clinical studies in their supplements.
Try to find out if they have published clinical studies on their products that prove both safety and effectiveness. Again, I would recommend choosing a company that
can match 135 studies (100 published in peer-reviewed medical journals) on their products, rather than just one or two.
If you think you’ve found the best fish oil supplement, for example, is there a guarantee? Is it in writing? Does it guarantee a 100% refund if you’re not satisfied? Does it also guarantee:
- 100% guarantee that the ingredients listed on the label are in the product
- 100% guarantee of quality-controlled product formulations that ensure product safety, purity, reliability, and product performance
- 100% guarantee that they use the finest quality ingredients available
That’s exactly what our featured company guarantees.
What are the health benefits from using the best fish oil supplement?
Over 4,500 research studies on omega-3 fatty acids' effects on overall health have been conducted in the last 30 years.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known best for their heart benefits. However, a growing body of research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may provide benefits beyond reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as lowering joint inflammation and tenderness for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease — specifically coronary artery disease — is still the number one cause of death of men and women in the United States.
To reduce the risk of heart disease, the AHA recommends eating two servings of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids each week. But most Americans eat fish only three times per month or less. As we've reported, there are growing concerns about unsafe levels of contaminants found in many fish, such as mercury, lead and PCBs
Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Research shows that high levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may:
- Help reduce the risk of heart disease (3)
- Help retain healthy triglyceride levels (5)
- Help retain normal blood pressure (4)
- Support brain (2), visual (1), and joint function(6).
The average American intake of EPA and DHA is only 0.1 to 0.2 g/day, even though the American Heart Association recommends at least two fish meals per week to provide an intake of about 0.3 to 0.5 g/day of EPA and DHA.
Most American diets provide more than ten times (some as much as 30) as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, even though there is general scientific agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health.
Research shows that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health and help retain normal blood pressure and triglyceride levels.*
What are the side effects or drug interactions of fish oil supplements?
The FDA classifies intake of up to 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe), according to the Mayo Clinic.
Care is necessary when choosing and consuming a fish oil supplement. Mild gastrointestinal upset is common with lesser quality fish oil supplement brands, but can be minimized if fish oils are taken with meals and if doses are started low and gradually increased.
If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.
The FDA does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. Unless you find the best supplement companies like the one I feature on this page, there’s no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of fish oil products and their effects may vary.
You should always read product labels. People with allergy or hypersensitivity to fish should avoid fish oil or omega-3 fatty acid fish oil supplements.
Diarrhea may also occur, with potentially severe diarrhea at very high doses. There are also reports of increased burping, acid reflux/heartburn/indigestion, abdominal bloating, and abdominal pain.
The safety concern of contaminants should apply to eating fish more than from ingesting fish oil supplements. Will the California lawsuit change these concerns to also include lesser quality fish oil supplements?
You should be safe from the above concerns if you take a high quality, high potency, pure triple-molecular-distillation pharmaceutical-grade best fish oil supplement like the one recommended below.
Recommended best fish oil supplement
The pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement my husband and I take, has been formulated to minimize odor and fishy aftertaste, and contains higher levels of EPA and DHA than leading brands.
It is free of impurities and contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs.
It is made by a pioneer industry firm founded in 1956, a recognized leader in the natural nutrition industry. The science behind each of their products is second to none. They have more published studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals more than any other nutritional company!
Based on the evidence presented on this page, we sincerely believe it is the safest and very best fish oil supplement. I highly recommend what my husband and I consider the finest fish oil supplement found anywhere in the U.S.
1. SanGiovanni, J.P. and E.Y. Chew,The role of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in
health and disease of the retina. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2005. 24(1): p. 87-138.
2.Young, G. and J. Conquer, Omega-3 fatty acids and neuropsychiatric disorders. Reprod Nutr Dev.
2005. 45(1): p. 1-28.
3. Calder, P.C., n-3 Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: evidence explained and mechanisms
explored. Clin Sci (Lond). 2004. 107(1): p. 1-11.
4. Geleijnse, J.M., et al., Blood pressure response to fish oil supplementation: metaregression analysis of randomized trials. Journal Hypers. 2002. 20(8): p. 1493-9.
5. Harris,W.S., n-3 fatty acids and human lipoprotein metabolism: an update. Lipids. 1999. 34 Suppl:
6. Curtis, C.L., et al., Biological basis for the benefit of nutraceutical supplementation in arthritis.
Drug Discov Today. 2004. 9(4): p. 165-72.
7. Jeffrey, T.F., et al., Children's daily exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls from dietary supplements containing fish oils. Journal Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, Vol 30, published online: 02 Jan 2013, pgs 506-514
8. Gregor, M., M.D. FACLM, PCBs in children's fish oil supplements. A study of 13 over-the-counter children’s fish oil supplements found that all were contaminated with PCB pollutants. Oct. 20, 2014 Volme 21
9. Heid, M. Are your omega-3 supplements bogus? Prevention.com. Article. Jan. 27, 2014
10. ConsumerLab.com, report, Non compliance percentages of dietary supplement industry.
11. Long, J. Article, FDA GMP inspectors cite 70% of dietary supplement firms. Natural Products Insider. May 20, 2013 Non compliance percentages 2010, 2011, 2012
12. Lehmann, J, Article, FDA warning letters and form 483 - what's the difference? Apr. 2, 2013
13. FDA Warning Letters summaries, accessed 1-20-2018: https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/default.htm
Best Fish Oil Supplement Disclaimer: Health statements on this Best Fish Oil Supplement page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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