Safe Omega 3 Supplements
Benefit Health, Eliminate Toxins
Beneficial omega 3 supplements from fish oil are gaining in popularity. Numerous studies tout their effectiveness to mitigate a myriad of issues from heart health to simple arthritis inflammation. Yet questions arise concerning their purity in removing toxins, such as PCBs, found in fish.
One leading company credits its triple molecular distillation process for producing the world’s finest pharmaceutical grade fish oil.
The dietary supplement industry is not strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no uniformity required in the testing methods that manufacturer’s perform on raw materials. The FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) lack regulatory teeth governing testing and proof of a product’s efficacy.
An example concerning the purity of fish oil developed on March 2, 2010 in the form of a lawsuit when the world’s largest producer of omega 3 fish oil, Omega Protein, was sued under California Proposition 65 for not telling consumers that their products contained toxic levels of PCBs. Omega Protein produces fish oil supplements for companies like Rite Aid, CVS, GNC, Now Health Group, Pharmavite, Solgar and Twinlab.
The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation introduced the lawsuit, after testing 10 omega 3 supplements manufactured by Omega Protein and finding PCBs in all of them. The suit alleges 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. The allegations in the lawsuit have not yet been proven in court.
Consumer Reports conducted its own tests of just 15 brands of fish oil, published in its January 2012 issue.
Entitled, Fish Oil Pills versus Claims, their testing revealed discrepancies in quality of 33% of those tested.
According to the article, "Americans are buying more fish-oil supplements than ever, but in industry-standard tests of 15 top-selling brands conducted by an outside lab for Consumer Reports, five fell a bit short."
Look for Pharmaceutical Grade when choosing omega 3 supplements
For safety, pharmaceutical grade omega 3 supplements have the purest processing.
The most significant quality issue in fish oil is the toxic chemical contamination of the food chain in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. Fish accumulate toxins such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs. Mercury can damage the nervous system—-particularly in a fetus. Dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), banned by Congress in 1979, may be carcinogens at low levels of exposure over time and may have other deleterious effects.
The freshness of the oil is also an important consideration in a fish oil supplement because rancid fish oils have an extremely unpleasant odor and may not be as effective. Additionally, some fish oil capsules are enteric coated or are strategically designed to release the oil after passing through the stomach to reduce fishy breath odor. If they release too soon, they lose that potential benefit. If they release too late, the oil may be not absorbed. The quality in the preparation is of utmost importance.
Geographical source control and the use of species of fish that are less likely to accumulate toxins are both important quality issues. The distillation processes used in processing fish oil for contaminant removal is paramount when taking a fish oil supplement. Look for Pharmaceutical Grade on the product label.
Fish oil is best source of omega 3 fatty acids
Fish oil is the recommended source of essential omega 3 fatty acids (called "essential" because, like vitamins, the body needs them and cannot make them). Thus, we need to be sure we get enough from our diets or from pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements.
Omega 3s consist of seven fatty acids. The two principal fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA Idocosahexaenoic acid) are found in fish. DHA can also be obtained from other marine sources, such as algae. EPA and DHA are polyunsaturated fats (“good” fats, as opposed to saturated fats that are thought to increase the risk of heart disease). The body can manufacture both EPA and DHA from another essential fatty acid, ALA (alpha linolenic acid) -- found in vegetable oils (flaxseed, canola, linseed, olive, soy) and walnut oil – but only to a limited extent.
Fish oil omega 3 supplements are considered the best source of EPA and DHA, the two most beneficial fatty acids, according to scientific research
What are the health benefits of omega 3 supplements?
Over 4,500 research studies on the effects on overall health of omega-3’s have been conducted in the last 25 years. Research shows that high levels of EPA and DHA--two primary omega 3s--promote cardiovascular health, help retain normal blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and support brain, visual and joint function.
Health benefits documented on MedlinePlus (a service of the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health) from multiple studies shows good to strong evidence that taking recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or omega 3 supplements from fish oil:
- lowers triglycerides
- reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease
- slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries")
- lowers blood pressure slightly
- reduces stiffness and joint tenderness associated with Rheumatoid arthritis
Non conclusive studies show that an omega 3 fish oil supplement may also help improve or prevent the following:
- Alzheimer's disease and dementia
- heart disease
How to find the leading brands of omega 3 supplements
When considering omega 3 supplements made from fish oil, read the label and the serving size. The amount of EPA and DHA contained in the supplement is the important statistic, not the total amount of fish oil. The better brands should total approximately 1 gram (900 to 1100 mg) EPA/DHA combined per serving size.
The concentrations of EPA and DHA in fish oil supplements currently sold vary by as much as ten fold—from just 8% to 79% per capsule according to industry watchdog, ConsumerLab. Concentration depends on the source of the omega 3s, how the oil is processed, and the amounts of other ingredients included in the supplement.
If you are trying to get as much EPA or DHA from the smallest serving size (I.e., fewer or smaller capsules), look for supplements with higher concentrations of EPA and DHA per serving size. A more concentrated product will generally allow you to ingest less total fish oil.
The best omega 3 supplements will contain a full spectrum of seven naturally occurring omega 3 fatty acids, including EPA. DHA, alpha-linolenic (ALA), docosapentaenoic, stearidonic, eicosatetraenoic and heneicosapentaenoic acids.
Processing of the fish oil supplement is its final test. The best fish oil brands are pharmaceutical grade (stated on the label) and have been purified to remove contaminants.
The number one brand of omega 3 supplements
I believe to find the number one brand of omega 3 supplements you must first find the best manufacturer. My husband and I have used the same company for over 20 years for whole food vitamins and arthritis supplements, including fish oil. I developed a list of 30 questions (modified somewhat over the years) that helped us find this industry leader.
This omega 3 fish oil sets a new standard in purity and full-spectrum potency:
- Ultra-pure, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil made with a proprietary triple molecular distillation process. Concentrates beneficial omega 3s while helping remove contaminants such as lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, dioxins, and PCBs
- Suppresses formation of dangerous trans fats for a healthier fish oil
- Minimizes odor and fishy aftertaste
- Uses no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- A full spectrum of seven naturally occurring omega 3 fatty acids including EPA, DHA, ALA and more.
- Contains higher levels of EPA and DHA than leading brands
It is for these reasons that I confidently recommend the brand that we trust, Omega Guard by Shaklee, and what I consider as the finest omega 3
supplement. Note: The label directions read: "Take 2 softgels one or two times daily with meals." We use the 180-count softgel size, a 90-day supply at two softgels daily, or 45-day supply at four daily.
A 60-count size is also available.
*Omega 3 Supplements Disclaimer: Health statements on this 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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