The definitive fish oil buyer’s guide

fishoil

Summary

Sorry, folks. Another long one. It was unavoidable, though, because I really did want this to be a “definitive guide” that covers all (or at least most) of the relevant issues involved with choosing a fish oil. Here’s a summary for the time-challenged:

  • There are seven important factors to consider when choosing a fish oil: purity, freshness, potency, nutrients, bioavailability, sustainability, and cost.
  • Not all fish oils are created equal. It’s essential to do your homework and make an informed choice. Many fish oils are oxidized or made with poor quality ingredients, and may actually cause health problems instead of solving them.
  • The potency of various products depends not only upon the levels of EPA and DHA, but also upon the molecular structure of the fats in the oil, which in turn affects absorption.
  • Natural fish oils are better absorbed than purified fish oils. Preliminary evidence suggests that krill oil (KO) may be better absorbed than fish oil, and anecdotal reports indicate that KO may be more effective for some than fish oil for reducing inflammation in some people.
  • Many fish oils are made from fish that are endangered. Choose products made from fish that are certified by organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council.

Introduction

So far in this series we’ve looked at why fish is superior to plant-based sources of omega-3. We’ve examined the importance of reducing consumption of omega-6 fats. We’ve considered how much omega-3 is needed to support health and treat disease. We’ve revealed that concerns about the safety of fish consumption have been overblown, and that eating fish regularly is not only safe, but incredibly beneficial. And in the previous article we compared the benefits of eating fish to taking fish oil.

In this final article of the series we’re going to take a closer look at fish oil. Fish oil has become wildly popular these days. Most people who are at least relatively health conscious understand that they need omega-3 in their diet, and are probably not getting enough from food (unless they eat a lot of fish).

Health care practitioners have caught on, too. I constantly hear both conventional and alternative practitioners telling their patients to take fish oil. In fact, I was listening to a podcast last week by one popular health and fitness guru in the paleo/primal world, and he advises his clients to take up to 20 grams of fish oil a day. That made me cringe.

Why? Because what most people – including health care practitioners – don’t seem to understand is that not all fish oils are created alike. There’s a tremendous difference in the ingredients, purity, freshness and therapeutic benefit of the fish oils available today. The supplement industry is rife with false claims and unsavory companies that are far more interested in profiting on the fish oil craze than they are in your health and well-being.

Recommending that people take up to 20g/d of fish oil without conveying the importance of choosing a high quality fish oil, and teaching them how to do that, is irresponsible and possibly dangerous. Taking 20g/d of a poor quality, oxidized fish oil could dramatically increase oxidative damage and inflammation – which is of course exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

In this article, I’ll focus more on dispelling common misconceptions about fish oil and helping you to choose the best product for your needs.

Factors to consider when buying fish oil

There are seven primary variables to be aware of when shopping for a fish oil:

  1. Purity. The oil must meet international standards for heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. Many do not – even when they claim they do.
  2. Freshness. Omega-3 oils are susceptible to oxidation, which makes them rancid. Rancid oils are pro-inflammatory and contribute to the diseases you’re trying to relieve or prevent by taking fish oil in the first place!
  3. Potency. In order to have the desired anti-inflammatory effect, fish oil must contain an adequate amount of the long-chain omega-3 derivatives EPA and DHA. DHA is especially important.
  4. Nutrients. All fish oils contain some amount of EPA and DHA. However, fish liver oil (from cod, skate or shark) also contains naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins that are difficult to obtain from foods.
  5. Bio-availability. The ability to absorb the beneficial components of fish oil is based on the molecular shape of the fatty acids. The more natural the structure the better.
  6. Sustainability: The fish should be harvested in a sustainable manner and species that are under threat should be avoided.
  7. Cost: the product must be relatively affordable to be practical for most people.

Purity

Many species of fish are known to concentrate toxic chemicals like heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins which can cause serious disease, especially in children and developing fetuses. In a previous article I explained how these chemicals are typically not a concern when eating whole fish, because fish also contain selenium. Selenium binds to mercury and makes it unavailable to tissues, thus protecting against any damage it may cause.

And while fish constitute only 9% of our dietary intake of dioxins and PCBs, high doses of fish oils taken every day (as is often recommended) may raise this percentage significantly and expose us to undesirable levels of these toxins.

To address this, fish oil manufacturers use a process called molecular distillation to remove the toxins from the oil. When done correctly, molecular distillation is capable of reducing the toxins in fish oil to levels considered to be safe by the EPA and other agencies.

Although almost any fish oil manufacturer will tell you their product is free of these toxins, independent lab analyses tell a different story. Just last month (March, 2010), a lawsuit was filed in California court against the manufacturers of ten popular fish oils because they contained undisclosed and (possibly) unsafe levels of contaminants.

Unfortunately, this kind of deception is all too common in the supplement industry. That’s why it’s essential that you ask for something called a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the manufacturer before you buy their product. A COA is an analysis performed by an independent lab to measure the ingredients of a product and confirm whether it lives up to the claims made by the manufacturer.

If the manufacturer won’t provide a COA, I start to get suspicious. This is standard practice in the industry and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be happy to show you theirs. Make sure that the independent lab they use is in fact independent and is preferably accredited, sponsored by a government agency, or has a solid reputation in the field.

This may seem like unnecessary paranoia, but when it comes to the possibility of ingesting powerful neurotoxins, it pays to do your homework.

In general, fish that are lower on the food chain like sardines and anchovies naturally have a lower concentration of contaminants. For this reason, it may be wise to look for a product made from these fish.

So what levels of these toxins are safe? As you might imagine, there is some disagreement on this question since there is no single governing body that determines acceptable levels. However, the standards that are most often followed by fish oil manufacturers are summarized in the table below.

fish oil toxin standards

* ppt = parts per trillion
* ppb = parts per billion

In a previous article we discussed selenium’s protective effect against mercury toxicity. If you are taking large doses of fish oil, and not eating any whole fish, it may be wise to ensure another regular source of selenium. Brazil nuts are by far the highest dietary source, with 1917mcg of selenium per 100g. (But they are also very high in n-6, so watch out!)

Freshness

I have written extensively about the dangers of oxidized, rancid oils. They promote oxidative damage and increase inflammation, both of which are risk factors for nearly every modern disease. The more unsaturated an fat is, the more vulnerable it is to oxidation. Long-chain, omega-3 fats found in fish oil are the most unsaturated of the fats, and thus the most susceptible to being damaged.

This is why it’s absolutely crucial to ensure that the fish oil you select is fresh and not rancid. Once it has gone rancid, it will have the exact opposite effect on your body than you want it to.

The first thing to do is to check something called the “peroxide value” on the COA. This is a measure of rancidity reactions in the oil that have occurred during storage. and should be less than 5 meq/kg.

If this checks out, and you decide to order that product, break open a capsule once you receive it. There should be no “fishy” odors. They should smell like the ocean, but not like a rotten fish. They should also not have a strong lemon or lime scent, which could be an indicator that the manufacturer is trying to mask the rancidity.

A common misconception is that you can determine the quality of a fish oil by freezing it. The theory goes that if you freeze the oil and it is cloudy, it’s rancid. That is not the case. All fish contain saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, albeit in small amounts. These fatty acids make the capsules appear cloudy when frozen in products that contain whole fish oil (i.e. Vital Choice’s Wild Salmon Oil).

Potency

This is another area surrounded by significant controversy. Some argue the levels of individual constituents in fish oil aren’t paramount. Scientists discovered the healthful effects of omega-3s by studying people with fish-heavy diets, before supplemental fish oil even existed. Clinical trials using supplemental fish oils over the past few decades have contained widely variable levels of both long-chain omega-3 derivatives (EPA and DHA), and not super-high concentrations of either or both.

However, due to poor conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA, unless you are eating fish it is very likely you are deficient in long-chain omega-3s.

Following this line of reasoning, the DHA content in particular of fish and fish oils does seem important if we wish to obtain the best possible therapeutic effect. Many recent studies demonstrating the anti-inflammatory potential of fish oil used a daily dosage of DHA in the range of 1-3 grams. What’s more, foods like salmon roe that have been prized by traditional cultures for their nourishing and healing effects contain large amounts of DHA. A single 6 oz. serving of salmon roe contains 1 g of DHA. (In fact, this would be the best way by far of supplementing with DHA if money were no object. (Unfortunately, wild salmon roe goes for about $28/serving.)

The suggested DHA dose will of course depend upon the condition being treated. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition (heart disease, arthritis, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, etc.) I would suggest taking between 1 and 2 grams per day. If you are taking it simply for health maintenance, 500 mg is probably sufficient.

Unfortunately, many fish oils do not have significant amounts of DHA. This means you’d have to take an impractically high number of capsules each day to obtain the therapeutic dose. This is not desirable, since all unsaturated oils (including fish oils) are subject to oxidative damage. We don’t want to take large quantities of them for this reason.

Remember to check the label and ensure that your product has approximately 200-300 mg of DHA per capsule. This will allow you to achieve the therapeutic dose by taking no more than 3 capsules twice a day.

Nutrients

All fish oils contain some amount of EPA and DHA, the long-chain omega-3 derivatives that provide the majority of the anti-inflammatory benefits seen in studies. However, fish liver oils (from cod, skate or shark) contain significant amounts of vitamins A and D in addition to EPA and DHA. Vitamins A and D are fat-soluble nutrients that are crucial to human health. Vitamin D, in particular, is difficult to obtain from commonly eaten foods – especially now that eating seafood carries a much higher risk of contamination with toxins.

Fermented cod liver oil is even more beneficial, because it contains vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 has been called “the missing nutrient” because it was only recently discovered, and many people are deficient in it.

It has been commonly believed that the benefits of vitamin K are limited to its role in blood clotting. Another popular misconception is that vitamins K1 and K2 are simply different forms of the same vitamin – with the same physiological functions.

New evidence, however, has confirmed that vitamin K2’s role in the body extends far beyond blood clotting to include protecting us from heart disease, ensuring healthy skin, forming strong bones, promoting brain function, supporting growth and development and helping to prevent cancer – to name a few.

Cod liver oil was traditionally processed by fermentation, which is likely to make it more absorbable and bio-available. Processing by fermentation also avoids the use of heat, which can damage the fragile fatty acids and cause fish oils to go rancid. Unfortunately, I am aware of only one company that sells fermented cod liver oil at this time (see below).

Bio-availability

The ability to absorb the beneficial components of fish oil is based on the molecular shape of the fatty acids. In short, the more natural the structure and the less it is chemically altered, the better.

This is true for any nutrient, of course, and it explains why I am always in favor of obtaining nutrients from food or food-based sources when possible. Each additional step in processing from the natural state of a food to extract or isolate nutrients introduces the potential of damaging the nutrient, or changing it’s chemical form so that it’s more difficult to absorb or affects the body in a different way.

When it comes to fish oils, there are three forms currently available on the market:

  1. Natural triglyercide oil. This is what you get when you “squeeze” the whole fish and extract the natural oil from it. It is the closest to eating fish oil in its natural form, and is highly bioavailable. The drawback of this form is that, because it’s not concentrated, it usually has low levels of EPA and DHA. And because it isn’t purified, it can have high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins.
  2. Ethyl ester oil. Occurs when natural triglyceride oil is concentrated and molecularly distilled to remove impurities. The ester form is still in a semi-natural state because it is the result of a process that naturally occurs in the body. The advantage to this form is that it can double or triple the levels of EPA and DHA.
  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.

Studies on absorption of the various types of fish oil suggest that, unsurprisingly, the natural triglyceride form is absorbed better than the ethyl ester form, which in turn is absorbed better than the synthetic triglyceride form.

One study by Lawson & Hughes in 1988 showed that 1 gram of EPA and 0.67 grams of DHA as natural triglycerides were absorbed 3.4 and 2.7 fold as well as the ethyl ester triglycerides.

In the previous article we saw that fish oils were better absorbed when taken with a high-fat meal. In another study by Lawson & Hughes later the same year, they showed that the absorption of EPA & DHA from natural triglycerides improved from 69% with a low-fat meal (8g total fat) to 90% with a high-fat meal (44g total fat). Absorption of both EPA and DHA from ethyl ester oils was increased three-fold from 20% with a low-fat meal to 60% with a high fat meal.

What about krill oil?

In addition to the three types of fish oil listed above, there is another type of oil that provides EPA & DHA: krill oil. Krill oil (KO) is extracted from Anarctic krill, Euphausia superba, a zooplankton crustacean rich in phospholipids carrying EPA and DHA. Krill oil also contains various potent antioxidants, including vitamins A & E, astaxanthin, and a novel flavonoid whose properties are not yet fully understood.

Krill oil has a unique biomolecular profile that distinguishes it from other fish oils. While EPA and DHA in fish oils comes in the form of triglycerides, the EPA and DHA is already incorporated into phospholipids, which facilitates the passage of the fatty acids through the intestinal wall. This increases the bioavailability of the EPA and DHA and improves absorption and assimilation.

Werner et al demonstrated essential fatty acids in the form of phospholipids were superior to essential fatty acids as triglycerides in significantly increasing the phospholipid concentrations of EPA and DHA in mice.

In a human study, Bunea et al compared the effect of krill oil and fish oil on blood lipids, specifically total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL. Krill oil was given at dosages of 1g/d, 1.5g/d, 2g/d or 3g/d, and fish oil was given at a single dose of 3g/d. The authors found the following:

  • KO at a daily dose of 1g, 1.5g, 2g or 3g achieved significant reductions of LDL of 32%, 36%, 37% and 39% respectively. Patients treated with 3g fish oil daily did not achieve a significant reduction in LDL.
  • HDL was significantly increased in all patients receiving KO. HDL increased 44% at 1g/d, 43% at 1.5g/d, 55% at 2g/d and 59% at 3g/d. Fish oil taken at 3g/d increased HDL by only 4%.
  • KO did not decrease triglycerides significantly at 1g and 1.5g. However, KO reduced triglycerides by 28% at 2g/d and 27% at 3g/d. Fish oil at 3g/d did not achieve a significant reduction of triglycerides.
  • Blood glucose levels were reduced by 6.3% in patients receiving 1g/d and 1.5g/d of KO, and 5.6% in patients receiving 2g/d and 3g/d of KO. A daily dose of 3g of fish oil reduced blood glucose by 3.3%.

Thus, in this study krill oil led to a significantly greater improvement in blood lipids compared to fish oil.

Note that the dosage of KO that obtained the best results, either 2g/d or 3g/d, is quite high. However, study participants received a maintenance dose of 0.5g/d for another 12 weeks after the therapeutic period of the study ended. These patients maintained the reductions in total cholesterol they attained in the study, and LDL, triglycerides and blood glucose were further reduced from baseline. There was a moderate decrease (of 3%) in HDL, but HDL was still significantly increased from baseline.

There is also unpublished research suggesting that 300 mg/d of KO reduces biochemical and subjective measures of inflammation and improves joint function and mobility in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

However, as this research is not published or peer-reviewed, and was sponsored by Neptune Technologies (the manufacturer of Neptune Krill Oil (NKO), I am cautious about interpreting its results.

So what does all of this information about bio-availability tell us?

  1. Taking fish oil capsules with a high-fat meal is essential to improve absorption of EPA and DH.
  2. Even when taken with a high-fat meal, ethyl ester oils are absorbed only 66% as well as natural triglyceride oils.
  3. Krill oil appears to significantly improve blood lipids when compared to fish oils, possibly because of its unique phospholipid structure.

Sustainability

The sustainability of fish oil production is difficult to gauge. Some oils are produced as a byproduct of fish harvesting, and manufacturers claim that they are simply making use of something that would normally be discarded. While this is certainly better than harvesting fish solely for their oil, it still supports harmful fishing practices.

The safest bet is to only use fish oil that is made from fish that are certified by MSF or a similar organization, such as the Environmental Defense Fund. Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil is one example, as is Jarrow Max DHA (which is made from anchovies and sardines, both of which are generally regarded as safe to eat from an environmental standpoint).

Cost

I cover cost in the recommendations section below.

Recommendations

Note: I have no affiliation with any of these companies. These are simply the products I recommend based on my research. It’s very likely that there are other good products that I missed in my search. This is not an exhaustive list.

Which product you might choose from this list depends in large part upon what your goals are.

I have provided product recommendations in two different categories: baseline, and supplemental. Those wishing to to maintain health and ensure adequate nutrient intake should choose a product from the “baseline” category. Those who are dealing with a chronic inflammatory condition should also choose a product from the baseline category, but should consider adding a product from the “supplemental” category.

However, keep in mind that the absorption of the natural triglyceride oils (like the Wild Salmon Oil and Fermented Cod Liver Oil below) will be 1.5 times greater than the ethyl ester oils in the supplemental section. As a rule of thumb, all purified and molecularly distilled oils are ethyl esters.

This means you have to take 1.5 times as much of the ethyl ester oils to get the same dose of DHA that you’d get from the natural triglyceride oils. For example, Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil has 220 mg DHA per serving. To get the same amount of DHA from Jarrow Max DHA, which is an ethyl ester oil, you’d have to take a serving that provides 333 mg of DHA.

Baseline

Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil Blend (GP FCLO)

Ingredients: about 270 mg omega-3 (about 139 mg EPA, 83 mg DHA), about 1,100 IU vitamin D, about 2,300 IU vitamin A. Values listed are approximate (see disadvantages).

Price: $47.00 for 120 capsules, 2 capsules per serving. $0.78/serving.

Advantages: a whole-food product in its natural form, rather than a supplement. Is relatively low in EPA & DHA compared to other products, but contains high levels of vitamin D, as well as vitamins A & K. The fat soluble vitamins A, D & K2 are important co-factors and likely improve the absorption and assimilation of EPA & DHA. Addition of grass-fed butter oil increases levels of K2. Cold-processed with fermentation, which means this is the least oxidized product available.

Disadvantages: levels of PCBs are posted on Green Pastures’ website here, but I’ve been unable to obtain information on heavy metals or dioxins. The EPA and DHA levels are what would be expected in a whole food product, but may not be high enough for a significant anti-inflammatory effect. Values for vitamins A, D, EPA and DHA are approximate and vary batch to batch due to fermentation processing method. Peroxide values are not provided, but because it is processed without heat they are likely to be very low.

Notes: because fermented cod liver oil contains vitamins A, D and K2 in addition to EPA and DHA, and because most people are deficient in some or all of these nutrients, this is currently the only product I recommend to everyone – patients, family and friends – regardless of their health status.

Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil (VC WSO)

Ingredients: 600 mg of omega-3 (240 mg EPA, 220 mg DHA), 340 IU vitamin D, 2,060 IU vitamin A (per 3 1,000 mg softgels).

Price: $40 bottle, 180 capsules. 3 capsules/serving, $0.68/serving.

Advantages: processed without heat using micro-filtration, which retains naturally occurring vitamins A and D. Fatty acids are in their natural triglyceride form, which makes them more absorbable. Also contains astaxanthin, which protects the oil from oxidative damage and rancidity. Contains more EPA and DHA than GP FCLO. Nutrient levels are more consistent from batch to batch and certification is performed by independent, not-for-profit organization (NSF International).

Disadvantages: when compared to GP FCLO, does not have vitamin K2 and the dose of vitamin D is significantly lower. Otherwise no disadvantages.

Supplemental

Jarrow Max DHA

Ingredients: 600 mg of omega-3 (250 mg DHA, 36 mg EPA) per capsule; one capsule is one serving.

Price: $14.85 (at Vitacost) for 180 capsules. $0.08/serving.

Advantages: even after considering the differences in absorptions between Jarrow Max (an ethyl ester) and the two natural triglyceride oils listed above, Jarrow Max is significantly cheaper. It’s possible to get 1g/d of DHA for $0.32. Made with anchovies and sardines, both of which are naturally low in contaminants. Jarrow faxed me their certificate of analysis, which checked out fine. This is a good choice for those wishing a high-dose of DHA in addition to eating fish or taking one of the natural triglyceride oils above.

Disadvantages: has a 7:1 ratio of DHA to EPA. Although I believe DHA to be more beneficial than EPA, the research is mixed on this and some people report that they do better with EPA.

V-Pure Vegetarian DHA

Ingredients: 350 mg DHA, 50 mg EPA per serving, 2 capsules per serving.

Price: $21.95 for 60 capsules. $0.73 per serving.

Advantages: I received several emails from vegetarians asking me what I recommended they do to meet DHA needs. This is a DHA/EPA blend derived from marine algae, which is where oily fish get EPA & DHA in the first place. The algae in this product is organically grown and 100% free of toxins and contaminants. The capsules are quite small and can be easily swallowed.

Disadvantages: I haven’t seen much research on the marine-algae DHA/EPA blends. Although it’s plausible to assume their effects would be similar to fish oils, I’d like to see some studies backing that up. Likewise, I don’t know much about V-Pure as a company. Another potential issue is that the capsules have carrageenan in them, which has been shown to exacerbate intestinal inflammation in several studies. People with gut problems like IBS and IBD may want to avoid this product. Finally, at $0.73/serving this product is expensive. To get a therapeutic dose of 1g/d taking this alone, you’d have to take 9 capsules per day which be 4.5 bottles/month, or almost $100!

Tentatively Recommended

Neptune Krill Oil

Ingredients: 300 mg of omega-3 (90 mg DHA, 150 mg EPA) per serving, two capsules per serving.

Price: $16.86 for 60 capsules. $0.56/serving, 2 capsules per serving.

Advantages: KO has a unique phospholipid structure that appears to improve the absorption of EPA & DHA. At least one study suggests that KO is superior to fish oil in improving blood lipids. KO also contains vitamins E & A, as well as astaxanthin, an antioxidant claimed to be 10 times more potent than other carotenoids. KO capsules are much smaller than fish oil capsules, are easier to swallow, and many report they don’t cause the burping common with other fish oil capsules. Several anecdotal reports suggest that krill oil can be more effective than fish oil in reducing inflammation for some people.

Disadvantages: there are few studies demonstrating the effectiveness of KO, whereas fish oil has decades of research behind it. Most of the studies that do exist on KO were sponsored by Neptune, the largest manufacturer of KO. The dosages used in the study on KO and blood lipids were very high, and taking KO at those dosages would be expensive. (However, the therapeutic dose of 2-3g/d would only be necessary for 12 weeks, as the maintenance dose of 0.5g seemed to maintain the benefits attained during the therapeutic period.) The sustainability of krill harvesting is controversial.

The reason KO gets a tentative recommendation is that there’s still comparatively little research supporting its use, and because I am still uncertain about the environmental impact of harvesting the krill for the oil. If you have information to share on either of these questions, I’m all ears!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Sharon says

    I don’t know if anyone has asked you about the PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits, I scrolled through and didn’t see anything but may have missed it. My mother’s opthamologist recommended it, here is the link to the product:
    http://prnomegahealth.com/product-category/eye-health/dry-eye/
    My only problem with it, is that you have to sign up for an automatic recurring order with your credit card, and would like to find something comparable that I can buy through another method.

    • says

      Ivan
      I have nothing against ethyl ester products. This is not fish oil and is the ethyl esters of EPA and DHA. These compounds are the same that are in the FDA approved drug Lovaza. Unfortunately the company like many others, did not disclose this required information on the label. Therefore, before taking this product you should read the prescribing information for Lovaza. In my opinion a better purchase would be http://www.herbalprovider.com/Triglyceride-Omega-3-Fish-Oil where you get 180 softgels in TAG. Each capsule supplies 400 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA. Better absorption and your body is use to digesting fat molecules and not ethyl esters.
      I eat lots of fish like those canned sardines when they are on sale 2 for 1 price. If possible diet first, then think about dietary supplements.

      Pixe

  2. ST says

    what are your thoughts on myprotein.co.uk super omega 3’s?
    do you know anything about them? i have requested the COA and asked if TG or EE.
    great article by the way – spot on with info. Well done

  3. Murat says

    Pixe:

    Some, if not most, fish oils contain soy or soy derivatives. I assume the ones that specifically indicate “no gluten, no artifical colors, no X…, no Y….) but does not say anything about “soy” also contain soy. I suppose this is mostly true for products that includes “(mixed and/or natural) tocopherols” or “Vitamin E” in their ingredients. For instance, take a look at Sundown Naturals fish oil products: on their label (downloadable from their website), except for salmon oil, it says “No Artificial Color, Flavor or Sweetener, No Preservatives, No Sugar, No Starch, No Milk, No Lactose, No Gluten, No Wheat, No Yeast, No Shellfish. Sodium Free”, all of which including “mixed natural tocopherols”. Their salmon oil product, however, adds “no soy” in the addition to the aforementioned list, which only includes “Gelatin, Vegetable Glycerin” in its ingredients. Among the products that contain soy, only a few indicates non-GMO, which leads me to think the others soy content is genetically modified.

    The worst part is, among the fish or salmon oil softgel products in the form of natural triglyceride, unfortunately I could not find any product that does not contain soy. The Pure Alaskan Salmon Oil does not seem to include any, but it says it includes “vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols)”, from which I assume it indeed contains. Others explicitly state soy content such as, if memory serves correct, Berkley & Jensen, Sam’s Club, Nature Made and CVS, the last one containing other nasty stuff. (As a side note Puritan’s Pride Extra Strength fish oil seems to be not in natural triglyceride from any more) Even recent batches of Nordic Natural’s regular Omega-3 product, when checked from National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplements Label Database, “may include soy”. (I also saw photos of previous labels indicating the product may contain soy due to being manufactured with other products that contains soy).

    After this long introduction, I have some questions (I will appreciate your separate reply to each):

    1) What is your general stance on fish oil supplements containing soy? (Please also dwell on GMO vs non-GMO)

    2) Other than the brands mentioned above, is there a fish oil product sold in softgels in the form of natural triglyceride which does not include soy, or at the very least includes non-GMO soy, that I might be overlooking?

    3) Do you agree with me about the Pure Alaskan Salmon Oil about containing soy?

    4) There are high quality fish oils in the EE form that do not contain soy at all such as Innovix. Its actual EPA and DHA (which I roughly calculate by deducting 1.5 times the content) is roughly equal with 2 Kirkland Signature 1000mg softgels. In such case, except cost, the difference boils down to KS containing soy and the other not, and to KS being in the natural triglyceride form and the Innovix in the EE form.

    In this scenerio would you recommend Innovix over KS?

    Thanks!!!

    • BB says

      I checked it before I bought my nordic naturals ultimate omega 3. According to their Q&A answer, despite its vitamin E is derived from soy oil but the formula does not soy protein. It is considered safe to consume even for people who has soy allergy. Besides, the label did mentioned non-GMO as well…

      Just bought ultimate omega 3 + Q10 for my parents, also labelled non GMO.

  4. Patton says

    Sorry if I missed it but when do you take the baseline and when do you take the supplement, or does it really matter? E.g., baseline in the morning and supplement after exercise? Or at meals?

  5. Patrick Quigley says

    I’m 66 and have been taking 6 grams of fish oil (Pure Alaska Omega from Costco) for at least 10 years now. And before that I always took at least 1 gram/day. My annual physical numbers always come up stellar and my BP hovers around 120/70. So I’m on the band wagon, but this article by Chris muddies the water for me: “So I still recommend eating fatty fish a couple times per week, and taking cod liver oil daily, presuming your diet is as I described above. What I don’t endorse is taking several grams per day of fish oil, especially for an extended period of time. Unfortunately this advice is becoming more and more common in the nutrition world.” http://chriskresser.com/when-it-comes-to-fish-oil-more-is-not-better

    • says

      Patrick:
      Great comment. In my opinion, you maybe taking to much fish oil capsules. I would bet that your omega-3 index is above 10.0. You should note that the body can become saturated and not be able to absorb any more EPA and DHA. Studies have shown that the dose response curve plateaus after a certain amount of EPA and DHA. I would get an omega-3 index
      (http://www.omegaquant.com/omega-3-index/) test to confirm your values and cut back on taking so many capsules. Then, use the savings to purchase more fatty fish and get your omega-3s the natural way.

      I suspect that the comments from Chris were based on all those studies in which the patients were taking ethyl esters which are not “fish oils.” If taking so much fish oil was harmful, then we should all stop eating “fat” which includes almost everything we eat. Olive oil, etc. are all TAGs and the body has evolved to efficiently digest TAGs. However, ethyl esters are not fat and the body has a defensive mechanism to prevent them from being digested. That is why Lovaza (prescription omega-3, incorrectly called “fish oil”) has to be taken in high doses and with a high fat meal in order for digestion to take place.

      Pixe

      • Deborah says

        Does anyone have any comments about NutraSea? I’ve only found it online. They have liquid & capsules. Good customer service is available, & they’ve been able to answer questions well.

  6. Kyle says

    Hello just read this amazing article and was wondering what someones thought was on this product from Krilloil.com from Viva Labs! I chatted with a rep online and he couldn’t answer me about a COA but the website provides allot of info? Any help would be great!!!
    Love your research

  7. Sabrina says

    Hello Pixe
    I ordered the Vital Choice capsules recommend by Chris. I received them the mail last Friday but realized they had been sitting in a box in the heat inside of my mail box for maybe 2 hours. I cut one open and did a taste and smell test. They don’t smell really strong but they have a slight fish smell. I tasted them and they taste somewhat like raw fish, but not bad. I’m not sure if they’re rancid?? I would really love your opinion before I start taking them because I’m pregnant and not willing to risk it.

    Thank you!!

    • says

      Hi Sabrina:
      I see no problem with the oil being rancid from the heat. As you know, this product is made from salmon cuttings which is a great way to make products from fish waste (offal). In my opinion, check with your OBGYN because I believe you should be taking a minimum 200-400 mg/day DHA. There are other products out there that have high DHA for pregnancy. However, be careful and make sure these are TAG and not ethyl esters. I posted earlier a list of prenatal DHA products.
      Best of success with your pregnancy.

      Pixe

  8. says

    I’ve been using salmon oil from last 4 months and it worked very well to increase my blood level and personally I feel salmon oil is a safe alternative to some other fish oils. Try it!

  9. Mo says

    Hi Pixe. First off, I’d like to apologize to you.
    Initially I thought you were just another troll that was spreading misinformation, and trying to sell something like every other so-called “expert” out there. But I’ve now seen your many thorough, insightful responses and have concluded that not only are you extremely knowledgeable on the subject, but you also seem to have the consumer’s best interest at heart. So thank you. Truly.

    Second, when I go to your site krilloildetective.com, all I get is the home page. Should there be articles up already or are you still working on them?

    Finally, what do you think about Omega Cure? It’s expensive, but they claim to be the “Rolls Royce” of fish oil. According to their website:
    -They use natural, raw, full-spectrum oil (non-winterized)
    -Their products “comes from wild cod captured off the north-west coast of Norway, following the strict sustainable fishing regulations of the Norwegian government. ”
    -A Norwegian health magazine study named their product THE best:

    “Omega3 Innovations recently learned that their Omega Cure liquid fish oil ranked the freshest in a Norwegian study that examined more than 100 brands of omega-3 fish oil products.

    The physician-directed, Venice-based health-food company was excited to hear of the high ranking in a study published in the Norwegian health magazine, Vitenskap & Fornuft (“Science & Reason”), according to co-founder Dr. Bo Martinsen.

    “We are extremely proud of the results,” Martinsen said, adding that the findings showed Omega Cure’s freshness was attributed to it having one-hundredth the oxidation levels of other leading omega-3 products.

    The study examined more than 100 brands of omega-3 marine-sourced products, including capsules and liquid fish oils. Martinsen said that more than half of the products initially selected were excluded because they contained too many added ingredients to provide an accurate oxidation value, and 95 percent of the remaining 56 products didn’t meet industry standards.”

    -They also claim most of these pills have ridiculously long shelf lives and that oxidation and rancidity occurs throughout the entire process, so that by the time we get our product, it’s probably already rancid.
    -Another one of their premises is you should treat your oil like your food. You wouldn’t have your fish sitting on a shelf for months before consuming it so why would you do that with your fish oil?
    -I agree with the idea of taking your oil in a liquid form and maintaining its freshness with refrigeration.
    -I couldn’t find them on the IFOS cert list.

    Thanks in advance~

    • says

      Mo:
      No problem on the trust. I am just pointing out how we as consumers are being taken advantage of because of the Dr. Oz and Inuit effect. Consumers are not aware of cGMP by way of 21 CFR 111 (Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling, or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements) describes in detail the “label holder” responsibility for accurate labeling and disclosing the true identity of their dietary supplements. Then DSHEA of 1994 removed the FDA’s pre-market approval for “label holders” introducing new dietary supplements into the marketplace. As such, any “label holder” can put whatever they feel like on the dietary supplements regardless of efficacy. Then, the FDA has the burden of proof to show that the product is adulterated and misbranded. By the time the FDA figures this out, the “label holder” closes shop and moves on with a different name. See
      http://www.omega-3snakeoil.com for more information.

      My http://www.krilloildetective.com is a work in progress and will be updated as more information becomes available.

      Pixe

  10. Ishaan says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for a very useful article.
    I have chronic inflammation due to psoriasis… if i choose to take Krill Oil on a daily basis.. shall i take supplemental and baseline recommendations as well at the same time on a daily basis.. will it be of any help or will be it a over dose?

    Thanks,
    Ishaan

    • says

      Simon:
      In my opinion, Nordic Naturals has always used natural fish oil TAG or synthetic fish oil (re esterified TAG) in their products. The best product for you will depend on what is your nutritional and health objectives. Remember to try to get these omega-3s from food first.

      PIXE

  11. Alicia says

    Hi, what about the minami brand of omega? I am taking Mordha by Minami as a breastfeeding mom. I really want to know I am taking the best for my child, what’s your feedback? Thanks!!!!

    • says

      Alicia:
      I hate to alarm you but this product is not “fish oil”. It is the ethyl esters and the same compound that is in the FDA prescription drug Lovaza. MorDHA contains 465 mg DHA-ethyl esters vs. 375 mg in Lovaza. Here is the warning message on the prescribing information for Lovaza: “8.3 Nursing Mothers
      Studies with omega-3-acid ethyl esters have demonstrated excretion in human milk. The effect of this excretion on the infant of a nursing mother is unknown; caution should be exercised when LOVAZA is administered to a nursing mother. An animal study in lactating rats given oral gavage 14C-ethyl EPA demonstrated that drug levels were 6 to 14 times higher in milk than in
      plasma. ” You can read it yourself at: https://www.gsksource.com/gskprm/htdocs/documents/LOVAZA-PI-PIL.PDF.

      In my opinion, I would stop taking this ethyl ester and get a TAG product such as Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA. There are others but I will get back to you on Monday with other TAG based products. The issue with ethyl esters, although small amounts, is the production of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) as a metabolite. Also, ethyl esters need to be taken with with a high fat meal in order to be effective.

      PIXE

      • Alicia says

        Wow, really??!!! Thanks for your response! How do you know it is the ethyl ester if it says it is fish oil from sardines and anchovy?? Is this because of the CO2 process they use to break it down? I am really glad you chose to share this information with me as I would not have known, please do get back on Monday with other products you recommend!!

        • says

          Alicia:
          I have purchased more than 1,500 dietary supplements and analyzed them for whether they are TAG or EE. Unfortunately, most of the “label-holder” of these products are clueless (my opinion) of what is in the products they sell. They have a contract manufacturer produce the product. The CO2 has nothing to do with it. This is just a hype statement to make the company appear as being up to date with the latest processing. Again, unfortunately, many label-holders are not up to date with the current technology and nomenclature used in the omega-3 marketplace.

          I have nothing against any company. My argument is for truth in labeling. The ethyl ester products contain the same chemical compounds in both Vascepa and Lovaza that are FDA approved drug substances. These are EPA and DHA ethyl esters. As such, you should read the warning labels for these products. The warning labels specifically discourage use by pregnant and nursing moms. See the warnings for Lovaza at: https://www.gsksource.com/gskprm/htdocs/documents/LOVAZA-PI-PIL.PDF.

          Here is the list:
          Product……………………………………..—–DHA EPA Form Distributor
          Lovaza ………………………………………. 365 475 EE GlaxoSmithKline
          Expecta Lipil……………………………….. 200 0 TAG Mead J&J
          Preganacy Plus…………………………….. 210 310 EE Fairhaven Health
          DHA Preantal Supplement……………….. 200 0 TAG CVS Pharmacy
          Platinum Prenatal ——————————– 525 105 TAG Platinum Naturals
          Daily Prenatal ——————————– 225 45 TAG Nordic Naturals
          Prenatal DHA ——————————— 225 45 TAG Nordic Naturals
          21st Century Prenatal DHA —————– 200 0 TAG 21st Century Health Care Inc
          ChildLife Prenatal DHA —————– 500 80 EE ChildLife
          Bluebonnet Early Promise Prenatal DHA— 200 0 TAG Bluebonnet
          21st Century Prenatal DHA —————– 200 0 TAG 21st Century Health Care Inc
          Oceans Mom ——————————— 350 15 EE Garden of Life
          Leader PreNatal DHA —————– 200 0 TAG Cardinal Health
          ChildLife Pure DHA ———————————500 80 EE ChildLife
          MyBrest Friend ——————————–100 150 TAG MyBrest Friend
          Omega Natal ——————————— 250 125 EE AOR
          Oceans Mom ——————————— 350 15 EE Garden of Life
          Women’s Daily Prenatal combo pack 200 240 EE Target
          One A Day Women’s Prenata with DHA 200 23 EE Bayer

          I apologize if the format of the above table did not come out correctly.
          Be informed of what you are exposing your fetus and nursing offspring to.

          EE = ethyl ester, TAG = triacyl-sn-glycerol.
          TAG are natural oil (fat) that you eat every day. EE are synthetic chemical compounds that your digestive system tries to prevent from gaining access to your systemic circulation system.

          PIXE

  12. Jon K says

    I’ve been taking a product which derives it’s Omega 3’s from Calamarine (squid). It’s daily serving is 2 gel caps which in total, provide 800 DHA/200EPA. I’m considering a change to something different due to the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with a mid level (2) food sensitivity to Soy, which this product contains. What is your take on Calamarine (squid)??

    • says

      Jon:
      This is not Calamari (Squid) oil. It is the ethyl esters made from squid offal. “Much of the calamari harvested for human consumption does not make it to the market, but is discarded as “cut offs” during food preparation. The material left over from the preparation of calamari is abundant in high quality omega-3, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).” See http://www.calamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=56.

      These cuttings are then reacted with ethanol in the presence of sulfuric acid to make the ethyl esters. Jarrow Formulas MaxDHA was TAG calamari offal. However, Jarrow does not make this product anymore and switched to fish based formula. In fact, you can’t get the ethyl ester version in Australia.

      PIXE

      • jay kan says

        Pixe, TY for all your help! just great!
        i know you said earlier you take the Jarrow Dha before bed personally for DHa intake.. do you think it is still ok now changed from calamari to fish based Dha.? meaning how rancid it is and maybe toxin free?

  13. Brian says

    Wow, great thread, much to digest ;~)>

    After my H/A almost 3 years ago my cardio Dr told me to stop smoking, start eating fish oil, baby aspirin and get your heart going for 20 minutes 3X a week on a treadmill (or whatever I like).

    I quit smoking cold turkey – “next time you might not be so lucky”.

    I sit in front of a keyboard for a living and my cholesterol is such that I am taking a statin to boot.
    The treadmill still looks new.

    So I get the best “fish oil” walmart has to offer. After a couple years I looked closer at the supplement situation and read krill was the bomb, sometimes. Then comes calamari, before I even try some krill.

    First I get some Swansons Super DHA 500 from Calamari – Calamarine EE – 500mg DHA, 125 EPA. A bit on the pricey side. Gotta be something better?

    So now (and was mentioned earlier in the thread briefly) Carlsons EcoSmart Omega-3, 1000mg calamari, 360mg DHA, 140mg EPA as EE (again). I eat 4 a day.

    So, what’s the other 50%?

    Both come from Calamarine as EE, not rTG.

    Mentioned earlier in thread, close to Jarrow Max DHA but no comments after that (Jarrow seemed like a good recommendation).

    My daughter mentioned my complexion looked good lately. I’ll make for a pretty corpes, wonderful.

    So, what would you experts suggest?

    I’m thinking buy a costco card, eat a handful of the “good” fish oil they carry every day and see if the stuff I have will burn well enough to keep the mosquitoes away or keep buying this stuff?

    Any insight to these products would be appreciated!!!

  14. g davis says

    hi chris,
    i see you mentioned look for products with at least 200-300 mg of DHA no more that 3 cap. 2/day
    what about EPA mg?

  15. says

    Hello just read this amazing article and was wondering what your thought was on this product from Krilloil.com from Viva Labs! I chatted with a rep online and he couldn’t answer me about a COA but the website provides allot of info? Any help would be great!!! Thanks again Chris
    Love your research

  16. says

    Hello just read this amazing article and was wondering what your thought was on this product from Krilloil.com from Viva Labs! I chatted with a rep online and he couldn’t answer me about a COA but the website provides allot of info? Any help would be great!!! Thanks again Chris

  17. madan mohan verma says

    What is the wholesale international price of Marine Oil(KM2040) packed in drums manufactured out of Krill Meal

  18. jacob says

    Does IFOS charge you to get tested? Why wouldn’t more companies submit for testing? There is a brand I have been using that I love, high DHA. They did have a COA, but I rarely see them on any top 10 list. The marketing hype aside, the ingredients seem solid, but at such high doses I wish you could give your batch to a third party and get it tested yourself. I wonder if any labs do this for a regular consumer. http://www.t-nation.com/store/products/flameout

  19. Ashish says

    I use a fish oil from a company called Xtendlife based out of New Zealand. Can you post your views about the company and its fish oils. Thanks in advance.

  20. Mr. Micawber says

    Pixe,

    So Douglas Labs doesn’t sell directly to consumers. Where do you recommend buying it? Obviously, it should be as fresh as possible right?

  21. says

    Hi Chris, I bough today, by the first time in my life, fish oil omega 3 with the name Healthy America fish oil 1200 mg Dietary Supplement with EPA 216 mg. and DHA 144 mg. Is this a recognize brand? can I trust on it? what’s your opinion about this brand?. I opened a capsule and it smell a fish but it is a fresh odor.I bough it en El Salvador, and it is suppose to be imported from the States.

  22. Sabrina says

    Hello,
    I ordered the Vital Choice capsules recommend by Chris. I received them the mail last Friday but realized they had been sitting in a box in the heat inside of my mail box for maybe 2 hours. I cut one open and did a taste and smell test. They don’t smell really strong but they have a slight fish smell. I tasted them and they taste somewhat like raw fish, but not bad. I’m not sure if they’re rancid?? I would really love your opinion before I start taking them because I’m pregnant and not willing to risk it.

    Thank you!!

  23. Marilyn says

    It’s 2014 and I see that Jarrow MAX DHA at Vitacost and Amazon is now made solely from calamari oil– Not sardines and anchovies. I wonder what Chris et al would say about calamari oil? Google here I come… :-)

  24. Simon says

    Hi Pixie, saw your recommendations above.

    ====================================
    Quell but it was very expensive rTAG and then for a good source of DHA I take Jarrows Max DHA at night. My main OM3 is Nutrigold Triacylglycerol (triglyceride) and occasionally Kirkland Natural.
    =======================================

    Not a single one is available in the UK.

    Any equivalent for the UK?

    Price is not an issue at all, just quality.

    Thanks.

  25. Don says

    Chris, I saw quite a few researches suggesting that increased intake of DHA and EPA from oily fish can mediate children’s dust mite allergy symptoms, is it really true?

    Do you think Paleo diet will help kids with dust mite allergy ?
    thanks!

  26. Lucy says

    Any information on Shaklee Omegaguard? And which the better product Kirkland or Nature Made? Thank you for your help.

  27. Sally says

    Thanks for your work Chris. My question is, how many of the Neptune Krill Oil tabs are necessary to get the 2-3 grams per day for triglyceride reduction. Is it 2-3 grams of DHA or 2-3 grams of the combination of fish oils.
    Thanks!

  28. says

    Vital Choice salmon oil is not “processed without heat.” Rather, “the highest temp in the process is 240 degrees… no solvent [is used], just steam and pressure.” I have that in writing from the company (April 2014). It is my understanding, however, that heat is actually not so much a concern as oxygen. “Fish oil should be covered with an inert gas, such as nitrogen, at all possible points during production. This is often referred to as nitrogen purging” (http://www.ascentahealth.com/omega-3-and-you/the-science/fish-oil-shelf-life-need-know/). The same article says that an alternative is to add strong enough antioxidants. I don’t know if VC’s oil has either of these protections. I asked about oxygen exposure and haven’t heard back.

  29. Sarah says

    Pixe in the beginning of the blog comments you posted that you recommend Quell as the best rTAG and Kirkland Natural as the best TAG… and you said as an experiment you are personally using Kirkland and Nutragold plus Jarrow Max… do you now prefer nutragold and jarrow max over Quell? Also, should one use natural fish oil in combination with an rTAG for superior health?

    • says

      Sarah:
      At first I was taking the Quell but it was very expensive rTAG and then for a good source of DHA I take Jarrows Max DHA at night. My main OM3 is Nutrigold Triacylglycerol (triglyceride) and occasionally Kirkland Natural. Now I cut back because my omega-3 index is 13 and no need to waste money while at the same time get OM3 from diet. The OM3 capsules I was taking was for an experiment because I analyze my own fatty acid blood profile. I also try to eat salmon once a week and snack on sardines when they are on sale. Diet first.

      Quell rTAG is quite pure with very little DAGs and MAGs and is still one of the best, in my opinion.

      Pixe

  30. Meredith Landers says

    Hi Chris! Thanks for taking the time to test different fish oils! Before I read your article just now, I had been doing a lot of reading about Fish & Krill Oils. I liked what I saw about Bio Nutrition’s Omega 5x & their “Omega Desert”. Have you tried theirs?

  31. Jeff says

    Hi Pixe,

    What do you think of TrueNutrition’s Fish Oil? 1000mg (180 EPA, 120 DHA).

    http://www.truenutrition.com/p-1111-fish-oil-complex-1000mg-softgels-1000-softgels.aspx

    I did rqeuest a CoA from them and they mentioned the fish are sourced from European cod but the physical process of manufacturing the materials and filling is handled by a cGMP manufacturer in China.

    My only issue is that their third party cert is done from a subsidiary company of sorts. Makes it seem less credible.

    Similar to Kirkland Signature that you suggest? Or worse?

  32. EM says

    What is you opinion about RealDose Essentials? Based on your article, natural TGD oils are not concentrated or purified and may contains high levels of contaminants. This product states it is super concentrated, pharmaceutical grade and ultra purified (anchovy) oil. It is also in a natural TGH form? Is this possible?

  33. Tom G says

    FINAL NOTE:

    ANYONE TAKING, OR PLANNING TO TAKE, AN OMEGA-3 FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT, YOU * ABSOLUTELY * SHOULD TELL YOUR DOCTOR

    – IF YOU TAKE ANY PRESCRIPTION DRUG(S) FOR A HEART CONDITION

    -IF YOU ARE TAKING COUMADIN (WARFARIN), OR ANY BLOOD THINNING DRUG FOR A HEART CONDITION, OR ANY MEDICATION YOU MAY TAKE FOR BLOOD CLOTS &/OR BLOOD CLOTTING, INCLUDING ASPIRIN.

    THE REASON FOR THIS IS: FISH OIL AND OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTS MEASURABLY AFFECT THE THINNESS OF YOUR BLOOD, AS A RESULT BEING THE DOSAGE OF THE DRUG YOU ARE TAKING NOW MAY NEED TO BE CHANGED. YOU MAY BE AT HIGHER RISK FOR BLOOD AND HEART RELATED CONDITIONS, SUCH AS BRUISING AND HEMORRHAGING, ETC. YOUR DOCTOR MAY DIRECT YOU NOT TO TAKE, OR STOP TAKING, ANY OMEGA-3 FISH OIL OR FISH OIL TABLETS, CAPSULES OR GELCAPS.

    * CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY OMEGA-3 FISH OIL OR FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT!!!

    • Travis says

      Tom
      Thank you for your information. It gives me a starting point. If more information comes along later, then I can change up.
      Again thank you

  34. Tom G says

    Shawn and Travis:

    If I may, until PIXE responds, I would suggest you try Nature’s Bounty Maximum Strength Fish Oil 1,400 mg – 980 mg Omega-3 – 130 Enteric Coated Liquid Softgels

    1 softgel taken daily contains 980mg total EPA+DHA, EPA=647mg, DHA=253mg, for a ratio EPA:DHA about 2.5 (a good number).

    You can buy these on Amazon, but they cost appreciably less when you buy at Costco. Cost is average for a Omega-3 fish oil product.

    You might want to read some customer reviews of this product on Amazon. Be sure find a match of product description, in particular for total Omega-3 provided per serving, and corresponding amounts of EPA and DHA. Nature’s Bounty makes several Omega-3 supplements which mainly differ in milligrams per serving.

    Overall, customer reviews are very good to excellent, in particular mentioning complete lack of fishy aftertaste, or fishy burps, both of which are due to rancid fish oil, which is a strongly negative indicator — with a high quality fish oil, there should be no fishy aftertaste or fishy burps!

    A more expensive brand (not necessarily indicating a higher quality product than Nature’s Bounty), which PIXE speaks highly of, is Nordic Naturals. Nordic Naturals has a line of Omega-3 fish oil products which vary in overall strength/potency, amounts in milligrams (mg) EPA and DHA per serving, and the number of capsules or softgels per serving (e.g., 2, or 3 softgels/capsules constititute 1 serving).

    My 2 cents worth. Good luck!

    • Leigh says

      So after that whole thread you then go to recommend a product based on EPA/DHA content without knowing if its rTAG/TAG or EE?

      lol

      My advice, everyone just read PIXE’s posts who is clearly the expert in this topic

      • Tom G says

        As I said, until PIXE weighs in, my 2cents about a high quality moderately priced Omega-3 fish oil supplement, where cost is an important criteria, my recommendation stands. Though I understand and agree with PIXE’s favoring rTAG/TAG over Ethyl Ester, it isn’t of necessity a critical, deciding factor in making a decision to start a trial.

        Some highest quality Omega-3 supplements are Ethyl Ester, while others are not. For example, I have taken an Omega-3 fish oil supplement, OmegaBrite, for nearly 20 years. It is Ethyl Ester, yet it is also of highest quality and a top choice for my needs, primarily treatment of Bipolar Disorder. Recently, I did a self-trial of Nordic Naturals ProEPA Elite, and, though it costs somewhat more, I have observed a possible slight difference in its effect, compared to OmegaBrite. ProEPA Elite (formerly EPA Elite) is a rTAG Supplement. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either to someone who is looking for a high proportion EPA to DHA (7-1 for OmegaBrite, EPA-only for Nordic Naturals.)

        Shawn and Travis, you could definitely wait for PIXE to comment since she is the undisputed expert, that is, if you think only the expert should suggest or make a recommendation, and you’re willing to wait indefinitely.

        Given PIXE’s expertise, she would be the exclusive go to, but there are others in these threads who have long term experience taking Omega-3 supplements, and though their opinions may not be the Gold Standard, both of you have expressed the desire to buy a safe, high quality, moderately priced Om-3 supplement product, and you may want to try something on your own, which I encourage you to do. Nature’s Bounty (Ethyl Ester) meets those criteria, is not very expensive, and it is easily available from Costco, or online. So, meantime, I decided to suggest Nature’s Bounty (or the more expensive Nordic Naturals if you prefer) are two qualified candidates. Don’t take my word, though, do as you prefer.

        Maybe when PIXE next comments in this thread, she can state her own view about whether other users of Omega-3 supplements here can make cautious, considered suggestions/recommendations. Leigh, if you think that is a laughable idea, you’re welcome to laugh as much and as long as you like. I get it, evidently you believe no one here should start taking any Omega-3 Fish Oil product without PIXE’s approval, in which case a number of people here may need to wait a long time to get their answer. I disagree.

  35. travis says

    Pixe,
    I have almost the same question that Shawn has. Is there any reason you wont recommend certain brand or at least a group of few to choose from. I spent hours on here and just need some advice.

    Travis

    below is Shawn’ s well said question – was there an answer?

    Pixe,

    I’m a 45 male and suffer from arthritis. I was hoping you could recommend a safe, good absorbing and moderately priced Omega 3 supplement for inflammation. Please do not refer me to a study or provide a research link as I’m not a scientist and really don’t understand what they are saying. I’ve read through this entire thread and like many others have become more confused than when I first started. If you were in my situation (putting aside the assumption of a healthy diet) which one would you take and about how much?

    Thank you,
    Shawn

    • says

      Travis:
      I am bias towards natural fish oils i.e. triacyl-sn-glycerol (TAG) that are natural fat that our bodies have evolved to digest. Also, re-esterified TAG (rTAG) are synthetic products but still fat that the gut can digest.

      For ethyl esters, which are not fish oils, the body has a defensive mechanism to prevent them from being digested to produce ethanol and free fatty acid (intermediate). As a result, you have to take high doses for them to be partially effective. Also, you need to eat fat to get them digested which is opposite of the reason why you are taking ethyl esters. So, why waste your money on a product that is difficult to digest and absorb. Yes, the FDA approved drugs Lovaza and Vascepa are ethyl esters. However, look at the size of the dose needed to get the desired pharmacological effect. As rTAGs become more studied, I would speculate that if an rTAG were to make it to FDA approval for triglyceride lowering, Lovaza and Vascepa would fade away (my opinion).

      The pharmacokinetic data of Lovaza and Vasecpa show that high doses are needed.

      Pixe

  36. melanie says

    I have read that Vit E supplements should be taken with Omegas to combat free radicals. Is this true?

  37. W. S. says

    Pixe, et al: I am curious if you can tell me anything about Daily DHA from wellnessresources.com

    Their web page says “molecularly distilled, ensuring no heavy metals or mercury in the supplement” and also:

    “Daily DHA™ fish oil is in the *natural* triglyceride form (TG). The TG form of fish oil is more bioavailable than ethyl esters (EE). The triglyceride form is easier for the body to digest and absorb. The triglyceride form is a more stable form of fish oil that will not oxidize in the capsule. This means no “fishy taste” or burping of fish oil and better DHA uptake into cells.”

    “Our mercury-free DHA is the finest essential fatty acid available in the world and a proven nutrient for cardiovascular fitness.”

    Their price is well below Quell, etc. What’s the story on this?

    • says

      W.S.
      I will place an order for this item and let you know in the future the results. Sounds interesting product and I bet it is re-esterified rTAG.
      P

  38. Alina Gharabegian says

    Hi, Chris –

    Thanks for the thorough article. When I cut my pill in half, I could smell lemon. Is it possible that the pill is flavored with lemon to make it taste better, etc., or is it NECESSARILY the case that lemon is used to mask rancidity? Thanks.

    Alina

  39. Amy says

    First, I would like to say “Thank You!” to all who have contributed information. This has been a very informative read.
    I have been having a side effect issue from taking fish oil that I have not seen discussed and I was hoping to receive some feed back from the experts.
    I have tried a few different fish oil products and two very different brands caused my tongue to taste metallic after just a couple of weeks of taking the product. Of course, I immediately stopped the product. But it has me wondering, am I the only person experiencing this side effect? And, what potentially is wrong with the fish oil that is causing this side effect? Is the radiation from Fukushima finally catching up to the fish oil industry?

    • Tom G says

      Metallic taste is most often a consequence of the fish oil’s being rancid. Either the fish oil wasn’t fresh, it was rancid already at the time manufacture, or, it turned rancid due to improper storage or not being discarded by a sell-buy date by the manufacturer or the retail store, i.e., drug store, health foods store, etc.

      There may be still other reasons for your having a metallic taste, other than or in addition to rancidity of the fish oil product.

      PIXE covers side effect questions quite thoroughly, so you might want to wait until you hear from her before you make any buying decisions or courses of action, should you want to submit a formal complaint to the appropriate authorities, etc.

    • says

      Amy:
      Without telling us the brand that gave you this bad taste, tell us the amount of EPA and DHA in the product and I will offer an explanation. It is known that certain types of omega-3s compounds cause your taste buds to change.
      Pixe

  40. Shawn says

    Pixe,

    I’m a 45 male and suffer from arthritis. I was hoping you could recommend a safe, good absorbing and moderately priced Omega 3 supplement for inflammation. Please do not refer me to a study or provide a research link as I’m not a scientist and really don’t understand what they are saying. I’ve read through this entire thread and like many others have become more confused than when I first started. If you were in my situation (putting aside the assumption of a healthy diet) which one would you take and about how much?

    Thank you,
    Shawn

    • says

      Hi Shawn:
      Sorry for the delay as I was busy compiling information on sellers of bogus krill oil dietary supplements.

      As a starter for inflammation, start reducing your intake of omega-6s from fast foods use of linoleic acid (LA) from vegetable cooking oils (soy, corn, and cottonseed) and arachidonic acid (AA) derived mainly from meat and dairy products. LA and AA contributes to the production of pro-inflammatory compounds and compete with enzymes used with omega-3s to produce anti-inflammatory compounds.

      Pixe

    • says

      Steve:
      This is a good product but taste is a little awful (personal) opinion. In this case, Coromega did perform better than traditional fish oil because it is an emulsion. That is the reason and function of the gall bladder is to produce phospholipids that are powerful emulsifiers. Here is a link to the paper on the clinical trial with Coromega.
      Enhanced Absorption of n-3 Fatty Acids from Emulsified Compared with Encapsulated Fish Oil Susan. K. Raatz, PhD, RD; J. Bruce Redmon, MD; Nyra J. Wimmergren, RN; James V. Donadio, MD*; Douglas M. Bibus, PhD.
      General Clinical Research Center and Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, *The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
      J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109:1076-1081
      Dr. Raatz has published several peer reviewed papers on the absorption and ingestion of fish oil and fish.
      Pixe

  41. says

    Chris:
    I thought I would give your followers a warning about companies selling fake krill oil. I purchased more than 120 samples of krill oil from various companies and I can say about 1/3 are not krill oil. These 1/3 products are mainly corn, soybean, or olive oil with astaxanthin. You should not purchase products that just list the krill oil content and this is a red flag. Also, it is a violation of DSHEA not to list the amounts of bioactives EPA and DHA since these are what is being supplemented. See my latest post at
    http://www.omega-3snakeoil.com with details on two products of krill oil. Amazing how expensive this $67.00 product is for 60 capsules and you get very little krill oil. Wow, I can buy about 60 tins of sardines for that money and get about 1300 mg EPA+DHA per tin.

    Also, asking any readers if they purchased the BioTrust product OmegaKrill 5X. Does your product have a date of manufacture or expiration date? Also, the product contains polysorbate 80.

    Pixe

    • Weightress says

      Yes…I have place 2 orders already for BioTrust OmegaKrill 5x and I’m SO glad to have read THIS article and the Snakeoil article as well. Thanks Pixe!! There is a LOT# and a BEST BEFORE date printed on the container.

  42. big_emon says

    Hi all, i have a blood mercury posion from amalgam and also a very thick blood because i have a jawbone cavitation/jawbone infection/jawbone toxicity(different names same meaning), this jawbone toxicity produce a very acidic enviroment and makes me hiperagregation(a very thick blood)…Now i consume Carlson fish oil Elite but i see it’s not from salmon, is salmon fish oil better ? i also take Carlson DHA fish opil, but again i just realize that it is not from salmon, is salmon DHA better ? thank you foir helping me all, Giod bless

  43. Merry says

    Hi Chris, I am trying to find an appropriate oil to feed my cat – one with the omega-3’s but with vitamin A filtered out. They get vitamin Already in their regular canned food and this is considered enough. I also want an oil with heavy minerals filtered out. You wrote high heated used in this process removes the vitamin A, but maybe it breaks down everything else, too – I don’t know! But interested if you know of anything that matches up with what I am looking for. Nordic Naturals makes a pet cod liver oil but it is only for medium to large size dogs (it retains the vitamin A). Thanks!

    • Amanda says

      Hi Merry! I have the exact same questions, I noticed no one here has replied with an answer, but I am wondering if you have found the answers elsewhere and if you would share them with me! I have a cat with IBS that has drastically improved on Spectrum Naturals Fish Oil caps-which seem to be Vit A free since the sources are mackerel, sardines and anchovies but I am not certain that these are entirely Vit A free…. I would like to learn more! Thanks!

  44. Dedee says

    Pixe,

    Is Kirkland Fish oil a good choice? I like the price, but it also makes me question the quality.

    I’m looking for a good quality fish oil that is free of toxins, and this product appears to be USP verified for mercury, pcbs, etc.

    I believe I also want something that does not contain ethyl esters, although I’m a bit confused about this topic. Does Kirkland meet this criteria?

    I noticed above that you mentioned not to use the enterically coated capsules. Does the following link match the Kirkland product that you were referring to? I saw you gave a link to UK Costco, but was wondering if this is the same product on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Kirkland-Signature-Concentrate-Softgels-Omega-3s/dp/B000EQW3ZA

    Thank you.

    • says

      Dedee:
      That is the correct product. Take two per day and you meet the AHA recommendation of two oily fish meals (3.5 oz) per week.
      Pixe

  45. Roop says

    Most of “good ” fish oils use anchovies, mackeral, tuna as their raw material. However these fish have very high histamine values. From that standpoint one would like salmon based fish oil as salmon has low histamine value. With that background which fish oil would you recommend for those who like to observe a low histamine diet and want to use fish oil.

  46. Julie says

    very interesting and informational article! You might consider putting Omega Cure from Omega Innovations on your list of recommended fish oils. After reading your article (and tons more) on rancid fish oils, I started really researching (and trying) fish oils and found that Omega Cure has the only quality that I can trust. I’ve tried Nordic Naturals – overrated and sells rancid fish oils that have been traveling all over the world on warm cargo ships (said by their own customer service agent) and they have horrible customer service (will gladly take your money but will not take any responsibility if there are issues “we inspect every bottle that leaves our facility and every bottle leaves in perfect condition. we are not responsible if something happened during shipment. you’re going to have to take it up with the delivery company”)

  47. says

    Chris:
    Just got my Omega-3 index back from OmegaQuant and it is 13.4. As an experiment to test to see if the advertising about taking fish oil works, I have been taking two capsules per day (800 mg EPA 400 mg DHA) of NutraGold Triacylglycerol (Triglyceride on the label) and Jarrows Max DHA (250 mg DHA and 65 mg DHA) at night. I also take Kirkland Natural Omega-3 Fish oil (not the enteric ethyl esters). Both are TAG. I also eat sardines and salmon at least once per week and I exercise twice per day. I am not sure what contributed most to the rise in the omega-3 index, diet or supplements. I think both made a contribution.

    However, although I am happy with my score, I don’t want to get a false sense of longevity based on an omega-3 index. Knowing that the odds are in my favor based on all those studies about CVD and CHD and omega-3s, I will continue my normal lifestyle. I don’t smoke or drink and try to eat healthy with an occasional apple pie and ice cream.

    As I mentioned, I would invest in the omega-3 index test at $29.95 at http://omegaquant.com/omega-3-index/. I got my results within one week. Good investment, however, don’t get complacent about your health. Lightening could strike you while you are taking your fish oil.

    Obviously, your results will vary.

    Pixe

  48. Patty says

    It is Vital Choice all the way. Have been taking it for years. Their cans of sockeye salmon and albacore tuna are beyond perfect..

  49. Rhonda says

    Hi Pixe,
    Like Ticamon, I am interested in your opinion of the Metagenics Fish Oil, as a practitioner only product, it is readily available in Australia.

  50. jay says

    hi, so am i right that krill oil is not a good fish oil supplement to take?
    .
    and has the Biotrust new supplement got your approval Pixe?
    many thanks to you and all giving input here!!
    i am not wanting a high EPA particularly , just normal extra bit of some kind of omega 3. EPA/ DHA still eluding me so far!!

    • says

      Jay:
      Don’t waste your money. I will have details shortly.
      Lot # 1401051 there is no expiration or manufacturing date on my bottle which I believe is a violation of the law.
      Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      P

        • says

          Kier:
          My bottle with lot number 1401051 with no expiration or manufacture date (violation of DSHEA) does not contain Krill oil. Because there is no date, no telling when the product was produced. It is not the equivalent amount 2,300 mg DHA/EPA claimed.

          I filed a complaint with the FDA and FTC for false claims and false advertising.

          This is a ripoff to me. False advertising. I would not purchase this product based on “OmegaKrill 5X” thinking that you will get Krill oil. See my current report at http://www.omega-3snakeoil.com.

          Pixe

  51. Ticamom says

    Many opinion on Metagenics brand? They have a high dha product that provides 600 dha (and 60 EPA) in just 1 pill. Granted it’s much more expensive (around $50 for 90 servings) but I like the high dose in just one pill. Was wondering if quality justified price. Thanks!

    • Randi says

      The Omega Cure product is monitored by two dedicated doctors that are also owner of the company that distribute this product. Their raw material is based on oil produced from pure and fresh atlantic cod liver. The raw material used in the production of this oil has certain requirements; One of them is that the raw material must be totally fresh and come from a cod catch on the same day it goes into crude oil production. I also know that the raw material goes through a particular selection for this brand. Only two producers in the world can comply with the standards that Omega Cure require for the oil that they distribute. Therefore the high price. They btw have celebrity customers like Jennifer Aniston.

      • Julie says

        Omega cure is the ONLY fish oil that I trust. You know it’s fresh when you can put a spoonful of fish oil in your mouth and it’s not fishy. Must take within 5 weeks or it starts to smell fishy – another indicator that the oil is super fresh upon delivery.
        Also unlike other fish oil companies, they send you the oil in a fully insulated box with ice packs in it.

        Companies like Nordic Naturals will send you fish oils in transparent bottles that arrive warm (stay away).

      • Mo says

        Randi, where did you get the information on their sourcing and production process? Everything I can find on this company seems to be sales literature, although I really do like their premise.

  52. alice says

    how can a molecular distilled product claimed to be in natural Triglyceride form eg Jarrow max DHA? I am confused!

  53. Tom Gossard says

    CORRECTION:

    In my comment just completed I misstated the amount of DHA contained in four caps OmegaBrite Ethyl Ester, and, correspondingly the ratio of EPA to DHA I stated is different.

    Each cap of OmegaBrite contains 350 mg EPA, and 50 mg DHA, a ratio of 7 to 1 EPA to DHA. 3 caps daily is the suggested dose on the OmegaBrite label. That works out to 3X350 mg or 1050 mg total EPA, and 3X50 or 150 mg DHA in one daily dose 3 caps. In addition, 3 caps supplies 150 mg “Other Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” 60 mg “Omega-6 Fatty Acids,” and 85 mg “Other Fatty Acids.”

    My daily dose of OmegaBrite caps is four (4) caps, which altogether contain 1,400 mg EPA, and 200 mg DHA [not 350 mg as I misstated]. I apologize for any confusion arising from these discrepancies.

  54. Tom Gossard says

    For tasty, creative ways to prepare sardines Italy and Portugal, for example, have had centuries of experience incorporating them into their daily diet. A good Italian cookbook with varieties of seafood recipes will probably give you ideas for preparing sardines the way *you will enjoy them.* They’re very tasty when prepared and cooked properly in a good recipe.

    Anchovies, too, are a practical and versatile choice of oily fish which, like sardines, will provide substantial quantities of healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Again, cultures such as those in Italy, Portugal, and Scandinavia would be valuable and rewarding to consult. Fresh anchovies are much harder to find a good source, but with a little persistence you might find one to supply you. Fresh anchovies are also tasty – very tasty imo – whether fresh or salted and tinned. Have fun exploring and creating your own delicious recipes as you gain more experience. Grilling for fresh sardines and anchovies is an ideal way to prepare a hot dish and the harmonious accompanying ingredients and dishes are similarly extensive.

    For approx. 20 years I have taken OmegaBrite Ethyl Ester Omega-3 EPA/DHA exclusively, for general overall health, and specifically as adjunct to prescription mood stabilizers and antidepressants, for bipolar depression and major depression. They have proved invaluable to use in such capacity, with consistent effectiveness and strength dose-dependent, i.e., two caps is about as much more effective as one compared to none, three and four capsules the same improvement in mood and affect. Beyond four caps, which taken altogether contain 1,400 mg EPA and 350 mg DHA, I experience only slight improvement. Hence, 4 caps once a day is a good dosage for me. I have had no fishy burps or fish aftertaste at this dosage.

    At one time past, OmegaBrite EPA/DHA caps received 5 stars on the FIOS website, however OmegaBrite is no longer listed there. This is puzzling to me, why the OmegaBrite people would not continue to submit samples for testing by FIOS – they do continue to receive a very high rating by ConsumerLab, perhaps the OmegaBrite people consider that rating to suffice. I don’t know if there is a significant cost to send samples periodically to FIOS, but that could be the reason, however I don’t know and thus far I haven’t asked OmegaBrite for an answer to the question of cost of testing.

    Recently, on Pixe’s suggestion I purchased one bottle of Nordic Naturals EPA Elite Omega-3 EPA/DHA to try. I have been taking 2 caps a day of the Nordic Naturals EPA ELITE, and have noticed little to no difference in the way I feel compared to OmegaBrite. Two caps of Nordic Naturals Elite according to the label on the bottle contain 1,600 mg EPA and 60 mg “Other Omega-3s” which presumably include DHA, though a DHA value is not given, so I don’t know for certain.

    Both OmegaBrite EPA/DHA Ethyl Ester and Nordic Naturals EPA Elite Ethyl Ester have a very high ratio of EPA to DHA, approx. 7 to 1 for OmegaBrite, and indeterminate for Nordic Naturals but certainly also very high ratio, probably in excess of the 7 : 1 ratio EPA to DHA for OmegaBrite.

    My reason for choosing to use Omega-3s with such high ratios EPA to DHA is that a couple of recently published double-blind research studies of effectiveness of Omega 3s for adjunct treatment of bipolar depression, have stated that mental health researchers generally have come to find that high EPA to DHA ratio, including pure EPA alone, are more effective than combined EPA/DHA Omega-3 formulations. I have found this to be true for myself, that a high ratio EPA to DHA Omega-3 results in my feeling better than other Omega-3s I’ve tried recently which have the more typical ratios 2 to 1, 3 to 1, or 4 to 1 EPA to DHA found in other brands. For most people’s general overall health I expect one of those higher ratio EPA to EHA brand Omega-3s would be preferable to the very high ratio EPA to DHA found in OmegaBrite and Nordic Naturals EPA Elite. Nordic Naturals have a number of other Omega-3 EPA/DHA products which have more typical ratios EPA to DHA, so one of those would be preferable I guess to the EPA Elite product which I take.

  55. jayme says

    I am in agreement with Dannie ^^ I am a healthy 21 year old in good shape, and without high cholesterol or blood pressure problems. In simplified terms can someone just tell me if taking a normal omega-3 supplement from Nordic Naturals would be considered safe and somewhat effective in providing my body with healthy fatty acids?
    What, if anything, is so bad about this company and they way they produce their omega-3 and cod liver oil supplements?
    This thread began in 2010, so what is the current recommended company that we should be buying from?
    I’m just looking for a supplement that will help reduce inflammation and improve my skin. Any input would be appreciated!

    • Chad says

      Jayme- The main thing you want to look for is the amount of EPA and DHA in one capsule. The world health organization and American heart Association recommends at least 300-500 mg per day for healthy adults. If you or your family have a history cardiovascular disease they recommend 1-4 grams a day.
      I personally like Ocean Blue Omega-3 (www.oceanblueprofessional.com) because they are the highest omega-3 per capsule that you can buy without a prescription. This means less capsules you have to take and less unwanted fish fat and unknown impurities because of the high purity of oil they use. They also are fully tested as per the USP guidelines and they are actually made in the USA. Most other fish oil products are made outside the USA and just packaged in the USA. Check them out and compare the EPA and DHA amounts per capsule versus Nordic naturals.

    • says

      Jayme:
      It is not so much about the company, it is about the product. Nordic Naturals is expensive but they are rTAG and no ethyl esters. Re-esterified triacylglycerol is not natural fish oil. Technically, it is classified as omega-3 triacylglycerol (formerly triglyceride). I believe Nordic is in control of the whole process from catch to capsule. They have improved their products because the older products still had residual ethyl esters from the conversion to rTAGs. Their EPA elite product which is about 80% EPA/EPA/EPA rTAG which in my thoughts will challenge the prescription drug Vascepa that is ethyl ester. My thought is that you can do more with less for rTAG because it is fat that the body’s digestion mechanism recognizes. In my opinion, Vascepa patients are overdosed because of the body’s defensive system (digestion) to block ethyl esters from being digested and absorbed.

      It is my opinion that even though Nordic Naturals is expensive, you have to look at it from the scientific point. You may only need to take much less of the Nordic Natural product to get the same effect of more expensive ethyl ester products of higher concentrations or other products that are delivered in an enteric capsule.

      Don’t believe all the marketing fiction as I will explain more snake oil products at http://www.omega-3snakeoil.com.

      Only my opinion and best to diet first to get the Inuit effect.
      Pixe

  56. dannie says

    i am 25 y/o and i am just trying to include omega-3 supplements in my diet to become healthier overall because of all the benefits it provides. however, i didnt realize how much there was to choosing a fish oil supplement brand to buy and i am honestly in info overload!!!! i am becoming overwhelmed with it all. therefore, i was wondering if you could answer 2 questions for me… 1-do you take omega-3 fish oil supplements? 2-if you do, which brand do you take? i figure if i choose the brand that an omega-3 fish oil supplement expert chooses for themself then that would be the smartest way to go.

    • says

      Dannie:
      I would do a dietary inventory of the foods you typically eat weekly and calculate how much omega-3s you get from the diet. I eat salmon and sardines once a week when possible although salmon is expensive. In my area, there was a sale on Season Brand Skinless & Boneless Sardines for $1.98 that provides 1,300 mg of omega-3s. I purchased several cans and snack on these.

      The American Heart Association recommends two oily fish meals a week which is about 500-600 mg/day omega-3. Eating two cans of sardines a week provides about 371 mg/day for about $208/year or $17.33/month or about $.60/day. Seems the price is competitive with some bogus “fish oil” dietary supplements and you get a good source of protein. I know, eating a can of sardines twice a week does not seem appealing but, be creative.

      Another alternative is to get an omega-3 index test that is currently on sale for $29.95 from http://omegaquant.com/omega-3-index/. This way, you can determine your status and save your money purchasing omega-3 dietary supplements that depending on the brand, maybe useless.

      Diet first, exercise, stop smoking, etc. and perhaps you can change your OM6/OM3 ratio for the better.

      Personal opinion.
      Pixe

  57. Jan Walker says

    Just wondered if you have any opinion on the Brand Omax3. I currently take Puritan’s Price Omega 3 Salmon oil. Not sure of the quality of this brand.

      • rocks2stocks says

        Omax3 is heavily tilted to EPA. Each softgel contains 563 mg EPA and 138 mg DHA for a 4.1:1 ratio. By comparison (using Pixe’s numbers), Nutrigold Triple Strength is 3:1, Lovaza is 1.3:1. The rTAG product Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is 1.4:1. If you take Omax3 it’s because you are more interested in EPA.

  58. Simon says

    Ok, so read about 2 years of comments.

    I’ve always imported Carlsons liquid fish oil from the states but am now quite confused.

    Is it ok?

    I’m in the UK , money is not an concern, Pixie, what would you suggest that’s purchasable in the UK?

    • says

      Simon:
      Not to patronize US companies abroad, but try the simple Costco Kirkland Natural 400 count TAG oil (http://www.costco.co.uk/view/product/uk_catalog/cos_7,cos_7.2,cos_7.2.1/142959). Each capsule supplies 300 mg EPA+DHA. Taking two of these will provide 600 mg/day which I believe is about the recommended daily dose in the UK. The UK has much more stricter laws for dietary supplements. I believe the Eskimo brand is from the UK. Perhaps you don’t need to supplement. Invest in a good diet or get the omega-3 index kit http://www.omegaquant.com/omega-3-index $30.00 US to determine your status. Then, you may not need to supplement.

      Pixe

      • Randi says

        Fish oil is such a wide expression. What kind of fish?, which source for the crude oil?, where is the oil itself produced?, conditions?, sustainability? When this information is blury, I am as always more concerned about totox value than EPA/DHA, which in principle is a matter of daily intake only.

        The quality of the final product will always depend on the source and quality of what goes into the final production.

      • Simon says

        Thanks Pixie.

        I’ve never heard of Kirkland, this is a reputable brand?

        Is Carlsons not a reputable brand ?

        • says

          Simon:
          Kirkland is a reputable brand from Costco. It is USP verified.

          From USP: “Seeing the USP Verified Mark on a dietary supplement label indicates that the product:
          Contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts Read More.
          Does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants Read More.
          Will break down and release into the body within a specified amount of time Read More.
          Has been made according to FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and well-controlled procedures Read More.
          Assurance of safe, sanitary, well-controlled, and well-documented manufacturing and monitoring processes indicates that a supplement manufacturer is quality-conscious, and that the supplement will be manufactured with consistent quality from batch to batch.”

          However, get only the natural one (real fish oil) and not the enteric one that is ethyl ester and to me, less effective.

          Be aware that the softgels are rather large. Each capsule weighs 1.53025 g with length 24.50 mm and diameter 10.09 mm.

          Pixe

      • Tom G says

        Pixe, your recommending Kirkland is a perfect example of a product which varies in quality depending on where you buy it. Mail order Kirkland, even from Costco, has been found to contain rancid fish oil in some cases where the consumer has had a negative experience, past sell-by date in others. I don’t know if there is a similar difference in quality buying in-store, but it raises the question, is the lower cost worthwhile. Obviously, buyer beware applies, but not everybody can remember which product is consistently good quality, and which may vary in quality to the point of making it an unacceptable choice.

  59. says

    What are your thoughts on Ocean Blue Omega-3? Looks like the highest amount of EPA & DHA in one capsule. 1050 mg of omega-3 per capsule, 675mg of EPA and 300mg of DHA in each capsule. This is higher than Lovaza!

    They actually did a clinical trial on their product.

    http://web.a.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=2157944X&AN=88261117&h=Cp4tMRcehDpicAKM0LpCTJCQk%2fxV58JktvI71tK9Xf%2bWrFPs%2bPcSWgKPC%2fJC4RWFG8S0PnVRk%2bFMwM6UMo3Xrg%3d%3d&crl=c

    Also, you should read the newest article on krill oil… does not seem to work as good as people were told.

    Berge K, Musa-Veloso K, Harwood M, Hoem N, Burri L,. Krill Oil supplementation lowers serum triglycerides without increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with borderline high or high triglyceride levels. Nutrition Research 2014; 34: 126-133
    3

    • says

      Chad:
      This product does not have the highest OM3 per capsule. Others on the market are Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold in which one softgel supplies 750 mg EPA-EE and 250 mg DHA-EE. If you take these high dose products that contain the same active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) that are in the FDA-approved prescription drugs Lovaza (465 mg EPA-EE, 370 mg DHA-EE) and Vascepa (1,000 mg EPA-EE), you should read the prescribing information for Lovaza (www.lovaza.com and http://www.Vascepa.com).

      Of particular interest for taking these high dose products, you can’t stop taking them without consultation with your doctor.

      Here is part of what is on the warning label for Lovaza: “Your doctor may start you on a diet that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and low in added sugars before giving you LOVAZA. Stay on this diet while taking LOVAZA.
      * Your doctor should do blood tests to check your triglyceride, bad cholesterol and liver function levels while you take LOVAZA.
      What are the possible side effects of LOVAZA?
      LOVAZA may cause serious side effects, including:
      * increases in the results of blood tests used to check your liver function (ALT and AST) and your bad cholesterol levels (LDL-C).
      * increases in the frequency of a heart rhythm problem (atrial fibrillation or flutter) may especially happen in the first few months of taking LOVAZA if you already have that problem.”

      Also, the serving size for Ocean Blue (my bottle Lot 05CGO 1B, Exp. 07-2015) says two softgels that will provide 2,100 mg of omega-3s. The FDA does not allow more than 2,000 mg OM3 for a dietary supplement.

      At least OB is partially honest about the label in that they say up front that it is an ethyl ester. The only contradiction is the term “fish oil” in which case this product dietary supplement is not the oil extracted from fish and is not “fish oil.” Also, the clinical trial was a nice way to showcase their product to compete with the prescription drugs at a fraction of the price.

      Not sure of the statement “Made from 100% American fish oils” while the label says “Fish Oil (from anchovy).”

      Also, these products don’t work well on a low fat diet which is the main reason for taking Lovaza and Vascepa is to lower blood fat. See the story on EPANOVA, the free fatty acid pending FDA approval for lowering blood fat (TAG) while on a low fat diet.

      Pixe

  60. Jenny says

    Chris,
    Thank you so much for this information. Could you please address some of the concerns regarding rancidity of the Fermented Cod Liver Oil? I had read about this in a few places, and was ready to order until I read through your comments. Do you know more about how Green Pastures sources their fish and their process? Do you still recommend this as you did in the article?
    Thank you!!!

  61. Richard Parker says

    What is your view of BioTrust OmegaKrill 5x, which is making some spectacular claims regarding purity, bioavailability, rancidity, and balance of EPA/DHA? Do they have a COA as far as you can tell?

    • Weightress says

      As of today, 10/15/2014, BioTrust’s recent batch is listed on the IFOS website (and I received an email from BioTrust w/that analysis as well). Is this the same thing as the Certificate of Analysis (COA) you’re referring to?

      • says

        Weightress:
        Notice that it is only certified for EPA and DHA as a fish oil and not certified for phospholipids that are in krill oil. I asked the company to go through the IKOS certification process because I believe they would fail for having just a trace of krill oil in this product that is not krill oil. If the product is being marketed as OmegaKrill, then why not have it certified for Krill Oil and phospholipids and not as a “fish oil.” Can BioTrust prove to us that: “OmegaKrill 5X™ is easily the #1 Omega-3 supplement on the market.”?

        The IFOS consumer report is similar to COA but the IFOS consumer report is the sanitized simple consumer report. Some companies (Nutrigold) will send the entire report that they received from IFOS so that you can see all the details. Again, BioTrust (I have nothing against the company) has not come up with the OmegaKrill5x clinical claim study (peer reviewed) for their product. This raised a red flag at FDA and FTC for potential violations. Any clinical claims must be with the product making the claim and not some other study using a similar product with, in BioTrust’s case, polysorbate 80. Since they shipped me a product with no dates (cGMP potential violation, 21 CFR Part 111) on the bottle, I would rather verify first, then trust later.
        See my additional comments:
        http://omega-3snakeoil.com/

        In my opinion, a better product would be http://www.coromega.com/ Coromega’s fish oil. They have published a clinical study using their product and they can substantiate their claim of “3x” better absorption.

        Diet first,
        Pixe

  62. Joe Amo says

    I currently take 3 teaspoons daily of Carlson’s Omega 3 fish oil. I’m looking to switch to a krill oil product but it needs to be a liquid as I have trouble swallowing pills. I’ve found this product on the web and would like to know if you’ve ever heard of this company or have an opinion of their product. My goal is to lower my cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Thank You
    Joe

  63. jay kan says

    hi pixe hoping we can see what you found regarding the Biotrust Omega 3 5x new supplement soon .. thanks for all this input /testing info … are you still taking the Triglyceride Omega 3 Gold? or something else … thank you !!

    • says

      Jay:
      I am in the process of putting together a brief report on this dietary supplement. See “Enhanced increase of omega-3 index in healthy individuals with response to 4-week n-3 fatty acid supplementation from krill oil versus fish oil” http://www.lipidworld.com/content/pdf/1476-511X-12-178.pdf
      to prep for the information that I will be posting.
      Also see the back and forth between the authors and letters to the editor.
      Pixe

    • says

      Jay:
      Grab these two important reports before they disappear. They are in relation to krill oil and I will comment on the misleading information for the Biotrust product shortly.

      http://novagenex.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Krill-oil.pdf

      and
      http://www.vladozlatos.com/project/files/pages/1794/detska-vyziva-report-bench-marking-dec-2010.pdf

      Very interesting reading that contradicts the current bogus information that krill oil has 75-90% of omega-3 attached to phospholipids.

      Pixe

      • rocks2stocks says

        Pixe,

        The 3 krill oil comparison study, sponsored by Enzymotec, has always bugged me because of an apples/oranges issue. Product A is Neptune krill oil (NKO), product B is Aker (Superba) krill oil, and product C is Enzymotec krill/fish oil blend. Enzymotec makes a pure krill oil and yet they chose to compare their blend to the other two companies’ pure krill oils. And guess what, the blend (with a ton of added astaxanthin) outperforms the pure products.

        Of the three, only Superba is not a construct. As I remember, the astaxanthin in Neptune is concentrated from krill oil and added back in to the product (see the patent). The astaxanthin in the Enzymotec blend comes from algae, and some of the omega-3s come from fish oil.

        If you look at various U.S. brands of krill oil, you will see many that state as the source NKO or Superba, but you will not find the name Enzymotec on any. I think Mercola krill oil is based on Enzymotec’s pure product with added astaxanthin and with slightly jacked-up specs. Several companies sell the Enzymotec blend including Source Naturals and Olympic.

        A/the U.S. distributor for Enzymotec is Azantis. Neptune and Enzymotec have been in a long-running patent infringement lawsuit. If Enzymotec loses, their products might disappear from the U.S. market.

        • says

          rocks2stocks:
          Thanks for the update. Yes, I already knew that information and I have analyzed more than 75 different brands of krill oil products.
          See my sister site: http://www.krilloildetective.com

          We discovered that about 25% of the “krill oil” products on the market are not krill oil and do not contain the oil from krill. I do have products with Cyvex and Azantis (Enzymotec) as suppliers of the oil.

          What is disturbing about these 75+ products, many do not list the source of the oil as if to hide something.

          If you want to read interesting drama, get the briefs and paperwork submitted to USPTO about the krill oil patent dispute. These patents also reveal that DHA and EPA are not predominately bond to phospholipids as several of the clinical trials claim. Seems these “peer reviewed” articles don’t check or even read the current references. They all quote the misleading article in Alternative Medicine Review “Krill Oil Monograph”, Vol. 15, Number 1, Page 84, 2007. Figures 3 and 4. However, the article does have good background information and references on krill oil.

          See Nils (from AkerBioMarine) nice description of their Superba Krill oil at http://prod.dfox.com/public/images/0000438021/000/059/0000595589.pdf

          Pixe

          • rocks2stocks says

            Pixe,

            Thanks for the very informative Nils/Aker report.

            Too bad ConsumerLab didn’t test Superba. Has anyone tested Superba for spoilage other than the study sponsored by Enzymotec?

            • says

              Rocks2stocks:
              Here is the slide presentation from the AOCS Newcastle Australia November 2013 conference by Nils from AkerBiomarine.
              “Composition of Antarctic krill oil and methods for its harvesting, production and qualitative and quantitative
              analysis.”
              Link: http://aocs.files.cms-plus.com/Meetings/Affliated/N.Holem_%20CompositionofAntarcticKrillOil.pdf

              Seems that krill oil is not just phospholipids but also contains TAGs and free fatty acids. It also depends on how the oil is extracted from krill. Neptune and Aker use two different methods to get the oil.

              See the pages 28 to 31 that show that the TAG part of the oil contains lots of DHA and EPA esterified to TAGs. The PL LC-MS data is not shown. These slides contradict what the bogus clinical trials stating that most of EPA and DHA are on the PL.

              Probably should download the link before Aker removes it.

              Pixe

        • says

          Tom:
          I would disagree with the choice Nature’s Bounty Maximum Strength Fish Oil 1,400 mg – 980 mg Omega-3 in the enteric form. This is an ethyl ester and what makes it less effective is the fact that it is in enteric coated capsule. Ethyl esters are already less absorbed going the normal route with digestion starting in the stomach. By using an enteric coating, you are bypassing this crucial step for digestion and hence absorption. To the best of my knowledge, there is no efficacy for ethyl esters in enteric coating capsules. My personal opinion would be a TAG of similar strength without enteric coating. For example, try Nutrigold Triglyceride 1,200 mg supplying 200 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per capsule. I take these and my Omega-3 index is 13.4% taking two of these daily and eating salmon or sardines once a week. These will outperform ethyl esters of higher strength because it is a TAG (rTAG) for which the digestion system will recognize.
          P

          • Tom G says

            Hi Pixe,

            Thanks for the tip re: enteric coated OM-3 being less efficacious than w/o enteric coating.

            Perhaps, in addition, you could suggest a moderate-priced alternative to the more expensive Nordic Naturals, for those of us who, like myself, need to spend as little as possible while also supporting our health and medical requirements. To date I haven’t found any rTag OM-3 that meets your exacting criteria, and which costs any less than the Nordic Naturals, which costs me at least $40 per month, or higher, which is a real financial sacrifice.

            As always, thank you very much for sharing your expert knowledge and experience!

        • says

          rocks2stocks:
          What is your knowledge of KriaXanthin by Cyvex? It appears that this so called “100 % Krill Oil” is missing the phospholipids per many labels such as Vitacost. Our analyses shows very little phosphorous and could be just fish oil (low quality) with added astaxanthin. Many products with great reviews but the consumers don’t realize that they are taking perhaps fish oil. That is why some of the lowest priced krill oil supplements contain unlabeled source KriaXanthin from Cyvex.
          P

  64. Tom Gossard says

    Has any research been done to find out if DHA might be a better choice for ADHD than, say, Wellbutrin, Ritalin… etc.? I have a reason for asking which is I have been diagnosed having Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, AADD), and, for which I take Wellbutrin SR (also for depression). I recently tried a brand of EPA/DHA fish oil pills. I had to stop taking them soon after starting them, because they were very over-stimulating. I guess you could say I couldn’t tolerate them, but I wonder if that same effect would suggest DHA could be helpful for ADD/ADHD.

    Note I started this comment with a question concerning using Wellbutrin because it treats both my depression and to an extent the ADD (though I can’t say I’ve seen much difference with Wellbutrin re: ADD). So in a sense I’m asking, since Wellbutrin does help some with ADHD/ADD evidently, might DHA work as well or better than the prescription Wellbutrin.

    • says

      Tom:
      See the article: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/7/prweb9689296.htm

      Here is copy of the introduction: “Vegepa Pure EPA Shows Potential as Non-Medical Co-Therapy Treatment for ADHD
      Methylphenidate prescriptions have increased fourfold in the last decade, and yet estimates as to its effectiveness suggest a sizeable ‘gap’ where children do not respond to such drug-based treatment. A recent double-blind pilot trial shows a potential natural treatment breakthrough that may help fill this gap for children resistant to medication.”

      Here is the link from medline to get to the article:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22596014

      Please note that I am just passing on what is in the public domain and my comments are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any medical problems or disease. Consult with your health care practitioner before taking any dietary supplements.

      I have purchased and analyzed more than 1,000 dietary supplements that supply the bioactive molecules EPA and DHA. I purchased my Vegepa from England but I believe you can get it on Amazon.

      Pixe

      • Tom Gossard says

        I believe the product you are referring to is sold as “Pharmepa STEP 1 RESTORE E-EPA 90 – pure EPA fish oil for omega-3 deficiency – 60 capsules” and is available in the USA from http://www.pharmepa.com.

        The only Vegepa EPA product I could locate is intended for children, and is a lower dose EPA. Orange flavored chewables. It is purchasable from Igennus in the UK, and can be shipped to the USA.

  65. Panda Beera says

    Thanks to Chris and all the following contributors. It’s taken a while to get to the bottom of the page but I’ve learned so much!

    I currently use oils (fish and krill) from a company called Thorne Research. http://www.thorne.com/

    Does anyone have thoughts about the quality of their products, esp the fish and krill oils? Their website says that they have TGA certification and in-house lab testing, which sounds suspicious to me but I have had many people recommend their products.

    Here is info about one of their products:

    Super EPA
    concentrated omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish
    •to help maintain healthy heart and brain function*
    •425 mg EPA and 270 mg DHA per softgel
    •molecular distillation removes heavy metals and other potential contaminants
    •enhances mood and memory*

    EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) (from Fish Oil) 425 mg.
    DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) (from Fish Oil) 270 mg.

    Other Ingredients: Gelatin (bovine), Purified Water and Glycerin (vegetable source) gelcap, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols).
    Contains ingredient derived from fish (fish oil = anchovy, sardine, mackerel).

    Based on recommendations on this site, I’m thinking of switching to Nordic Naturals, which seems like a better product in terms of formula and certification. And it is more affordable than the Thorne Research, though still plenty expensive.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

      • jay kan says

        hi, just wondering what is the bad and good news here regarding the thorne Super EPA ?? .. thanks so much pixe

        • says

          Jay:
          The good news is that you can share this product with your pet because it is the same product sold as Thorne Research SuperEPA Vet. Bottle says, “Warnings: For animal use only.” Here is what consumers who purchased the same product you are taking for their pets are saying on Amazon:
          —————————————————————————————————————-
          Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
          Amazon: “5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, March 11, 2014
          This review is from: Thorne Research Veterinary – Super EPA VET 90gc [Health and Beauty] (Health and Beauty)
          Bought this for my dog who has back issues. Rap it in a piece of white bread for him to ingest. He eats it with no problems. He’s very active and not showing any signs of back related issues. Is part of a regime with food that has glucosimine and chondrotin.

          Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
          After using it for a couple months, the dog’s coat became smooth and shiny. Boxer fur is usually prickly, but the Thorne’s made it soft.
          Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

          Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
          This review is from: Thorne Research Veterinary – Super EPA VET 90gc [Health and Beauty] (Health and Beauty)
          This is an excellent, palatable product for dogs. It must be tasty, as the dog eats it up without disguising it in cheese or a meatball. His skin is shinier and he seems calmer when taking it.
          ————————————————————————————————————-
          Maybe they made a mistake in the manufacture of the product. Here are the details of my two bottles:

          Thorne Research Super EPA with lot #305032 Exp. 01-2014, capsule mass = 1.67367 g, L=25.67 mm, D=10.44 mm and supplies 1.29956 g of marine fatty acid ethyl esters of which 425 mg are EPA-EE and 270 mg DHA-EE.

          Thorne Research Super EPAVet “Supports Dermatological, cognitive, & Cardiovascular health” (for animal use only) with lot #313613 Exp. 09-2015, capsule mass = 1.79117 g, L=26.48 mm, D=10.34 mm and supplies 1.29185 g of marine fatty acid ethyl esters of which 425 mg are EPA-EE and 270 mg DHA-EE. Has the NASC seal National Animal Supplement Council “The Benchmark of Quality.” Wow, no statement of quality on the same product for humans. See the photos at http://www.fishoildetective.com under Thorne research to see if this is the same product as yours.

          The bad news is that you have to share with your dog or other pets. However, don’t worry because if your pet’s supply runs out or your supply runs out, you can use the others and vice versa.

          My analysis shows that the gelatin capsule and the omega-3 ethyl esters in the capsules are identical. Don’t jump to conclusions because my bottle expired 01-2014 and the newer batch you purchased maybe a better match in size and mass with the new lot that has the same identical label contents as my expired bottle.

          According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, this product is illegal. Don’t worry, it is only a dietary supplement and does not need pre-market approval by the FDA. No one will know (violation of cGMP) or care if I filled the human dietary supplement bottle with the same capsules that I used to fill the “animal use only” bottle because they both cost the same on Amazon. My company is just following the status quo as most nutraceutical companies are doing the same thing because FDA does not have the resources to police us.

          One consolation on the SuperEPAVet product label that you can use is this statement: “If animal’s condition worsens or does not improve, stop product administration and consult your veterinarian.”

          Wishing you and your pet happy fish oiling.
          Pixe

  66. says

    The only omega3 fish oil I could find that is made up of Halal gelatins was by noorvitamins . However having read all the information and compare it with the label of noorvitamins I found the EPA is 180 and DHA is 120. My Dr prescribed this for me because if my triglycerides readings in my last physical. Please advice am I doing more harm than good?

    • says

      Nuzkiya:

      See Nutrition Enhancement Halal Fish Oil http://www.nutritionenhancement.com/index.php/products/halal-omega-3-fish-oil.

      My bottle is TAG (natural fat) with 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per label which I have not verified. This is just your standard fish oil formulation and because it is fat, your digestion system will recognize it.

      My capsule weighs 1.56858 g with length 25.58 mm and diameter 9.40 mm. Mass of oil is 1.01286 g which translates into 17.8% EPA and 11.8 % DHA expressed as free fatty acid equivalents per CRN, USP, and GOED protocols.

      Capsule is enteric. There is no difference between absorption from enteric vs non-enteric capsule according to a clinical trial with TAG oil.

      Diet first then supplement if need be with consultation with your health care provider.

      Pixe

  67. basejumper says

    Great stuff throughout this page. Thanks to all that have contributed!

    Pixe,

    have you analyzed Ascenta Healths NutraSea products? I have been taking this one for a while but am always keeping an eye open for a higher quality and less expensive products. http://www.ascentahealth.com/products/human/nutrasea-original-500-ml
    Also, do you have any information on green-lipped mussel oil? I saw an article a while back on them but have not dove into the research papers yet.

    Thank for your time.

  68. says

    Chris:
    A good source of reading in regards to the what’s trending in EPA for the treatment of various health issues can be found at:
    http://epadruginitiative.com/ then see all the sections within:
    http://epadruginitiative.com/press/fda-puts-patients-at-risk

    Read the reports and slide lectures so that you can be informed about the biology and chemistry of the health affects of omega-3s. Information is particularly of help for those obtaining OM3 naturally from the diet.

    If you are a consumer and don’t care about your rights when purchasing a diet supplement and buyers beware, disregard this post.

    Enjoy,
    Pixe

    • Sydney says

      Pixe, I am completely confused ..
      I need help to find a product that will help me ..
      My overall Cholesterol level is borderline high, and my Triglyceride levels are borderline high ..
      I need to know which Reputable Omega 3 do you recommend for me, to address these issues .
      Do I need the EE form, or the Tryg form ?
      And which brand do you suggest please ..
      Thank you for any thoughts.

  69. Tom Gossard says

    Pixe, I would appreciate your citing references to back up your alleged statements of fact. I know it can be cumbersome but I for one would greatly appreciate it. I do my own research and such references are of immense value to me, since I read a lot of erroneous information and flawed interpretations all over the health advice and guidance sites on the internet. Also, myself, I am very cautious about making categorical statements when I haven’t done due diligence from reputable, highest quality information sources. Thanks.

    On an unrelated topic, I have just had an bad reaction to a specific popular brand Omega-3 supplement. It was my first experience with the brand, and, since I have not taken any other brand Omega-3 supplements other than the one I have been taking for years, I don’t want to cite the brand name because I’m not sure what caused me to have such a surprising and unusual reaction. It might be an interaction between the formulation of the supplement and one or other of the several differing types of medications I take for bipolar depression.

    Which brings me to the point I want to make, that one should exercise caution when starting a new or different Omega-3 supplement, and check with your doctor before starting to take an Omega-3 supplement. (As it happens, I did, but my Psychiatrist didn’t recommend a specific brand to take, which could be part of the problem.) Further, as with myself, if you take a combination of several drugs for this or that condition, it warrants extreme caution, including stopping taking the particular supplement. Omega-3 supplements are powerful medicines in addition to being good for overall health, or for a particular health issue.

    Tom

    • says

      Paul:
      Sorry to hear of your problem fish oil. Send me the name via my website and out of the 1,000+ different omega-3 products, I may have analyzed your brand. What details about “buyer beware” do you need specifics?

      A good source of information about EPA and treating high blood fat (triacylglycerols) is: http://epadruginitiative.com/

      Great reading for all the links and trials on diabetics and how the FDA dealt with the approval of Vascepa (prescription EPA ethyl ester). It also describes how the FDA turned down Vascepa sNDA (supplemental new drug application) for lower blood fat levels. Provides details on basic good health and the diet.

      Enjoy,
      Pixe

    • Pixe says

      Tom:
      The first place to start is http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Legislation/FederalFoodDrugandCosmeticActFDCAct/SignificantAmendmentstotheFDCAct/ucm148003.htm#sec3

      Then see section 7 about labeling. The consumer will perhaps drive the marketplace driving out those who do not follow the rules. Read the law then pick up any fish oil dietary supplement bottle and read the supplement facts label. I have more 1,000 bottles of dietary supplements and analyzed them all.

      First observation is that the US is a dumping ground for products that can’t get approved in other countries and because of the standard American diet (SAD) they prey upon naive citizens wanting the Inuit affect.

      Second observation is that many say “natural” but are far from that. I noticed that companies whose product is TAG will proudly display the correct information in the supplement facts panel about the true identity of the active nutraceutical ingredient (ANI). Others who are ashamed of the identity of their ANI do not list the true identity but instead hide behind the good name “fish oil.” For example, Now Foods Fish Oil supplements with higher 18/12 TAG oil and then compare with the labels say from Mason MaxEPA. MaxEPA was the first prescription drug (http://www.seven-seas.com/seven-seas-timeline) real “fish oil” that was marketed by Seven Seas in the UK.

      Buyer beware that EPA only supplements are trending because of the greater awareness of EPA to assist in perhaps improving those who have mental health issues. Do a search of EPA only fish oils and see what you get. Again, diet first then supplement under the supervision of a health care provider. Do your due diligence. Verify, then trust.

      Pixe

      • Randi says

        Very important comment. However what about the source of the 18/12 TAG oil, raw material and production conditions in Peru. Also lack of sustainability branding is a problem. Most 18/12 oils with origin Peru cannot get MSC branding.

  70. says

    Chris:
    Can you change this in your introduction?

    “Ethyl ester oil. Occurs when natural triglyceride oil is concentrated and molecularly distilled to remove impurities. The ester form is still in a semi-natural state because it is the result of a process that naturally occurs in the body. The advantage to this form is that it can double or triple the levels of EPA and DHA.”

    This is incorrect. Should read something like this:
    “Marine fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) are produced by reacting ethanol and a catalyst with fish body oils or fish offal oils that have been extracted from fish. The resulting FAEEs are purified (molecular distillation, super critical CO2, or chromatography) to separate the polyunsaturated omega-3s from the other lower molecular weight compounds.”

    This is important because it should be noted that the original molecular structure of the oil in the fish has been changed and both physical and chemical properties are different than the starting oil original in the marine source.

    Ethyl esters have saved thousands of lives and will continue. If you do not need excessive amounts of omega-3s, why take an ethyl ester. These ethyl ester were made from natural TAG based molecules in the fish. The body has to convert them back to some of the original TAG molecules in the fish for the body to use them. Consumers don’t realize that this process is inefficient because pancreatic lipase evolved to digest fat. Ethyl esters are a poor substrate for this enzyme and are digested by another less efficient enzyme.

    The body has a natural mechanism to prevent chemicals from gaining access to the systemic circulation. That is why drug companies spend billions of dollars developing drugs (pro-drugs) to gain access to your blood. One popular compound used to derivatize these bioactive compounds is ethanol to make an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to provide the bioactive molecule (examples EPA, DHA, DPA, ARA).

    If you are eating a healthy diet of good fats, you may need just an extra dose of OM3s if there are no medical issues. However, those on fixed incomes, homeless, etc. who can’t afford an affluent diet of eating oily fish (salmon) that are expensive , a low cost natural omega-3 dietary supplement (5 cents day) may reduce many health issues.

    If you must take a dietary supplement, especial “fish oil”, do your due diligence and verify before you trust.

    This is my opinion.
    Pixe

  71. Paul Crombie says

    Hi. Great site and thread. I have now spent three hours on it. I kind of got lost:-) my late father suffered from sever arthritis. Over the past three years I have removed as much omega 6 from my diet as possible and that takes effort since corn is in every food stuff produced in this country. I am 60 and I want to avoid that arthritis road map. Can you point me toward an omega 3 practice that would be optimum for reducing or postponing this nasty desease?

    Also, as to buyer beware…there is no such thing…it’s a fallacy in today’s world. We’re not buying horses any more. I want FDA over site.

    Thanx again for such a super site

    • says

      Paul:
      Do you want me to tell you horror studies of “buyer beware” with mislabeling, fake labels, failure to disclose the true identity of products, and the most outrageous of them all is the famous “bait and switch” practices in the omega-3 dietary supplement industry? There are good companies out there selling honest product and truthful labels. The fad now is “super critical” omega-3s that is the buzz word.

      Perhaps the consumer will determine the marketplace and weed out those “snake oil” products.
      Pixe

  72. ernie says

    New to the fish oil scene.Am 51 with Rheumatoid for 4-5yrs now.Thoughts on Carlson products esp MedOmega 2800.
    Also ive read that taking a fish oil supplement with glucosamine sulfate is beneficial for the joints.The fish oil is suppose to help in the uptake of the glucosamine.Is this true?

  73. Lois says

    I take 2 fish oil softgels a day…one in the morning, one at night…It is Puritan Pride Triple Omega 3-6-9-(fish,flax,borage oils)
    There has been news lately that says fish oil really has no benefit, so my question is, should I continue taking this product or not…because in the long run, is it doing this 65 year old woman any good???

    • says

      Any product having a combination at Omega-3,6,9 is a waste of money. Most people get more than enough omega-6 in there diets that they only need to supplement with Omega-3. You need to have a balance of omega-3 to omega-6 for your body to properly function in harmony. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. Your body needs both, but in balanced ratio. Most people are 20:1 Omega-6 to omega-3, but we should be striving to be 2:1. Also, know that flax seed/oils omega-3 is predominately ALA which does not convert very well into EPA or DHA in the body so you are not getting the correct beneficial PUFA’s such as EPA and DHA.

  74. May says

    Hi Khris,

    great info you are sharing and thanks for that .
    would like to check with you that the product southpose oceank (omega 3 6 9 ) 1000 mg / causule .
    I just started to take this one .

    hope to hear from you soon, thanks.

    rgds.
    May

  75. Jean says

    Hey

    I need your help

    I would like to know, what do you think about Myprotein’s Omega 3

    http://www.myprotein.com/sports-nutrition/omega-3/10529329.html

    which is reaaaaly cheap, but the (wellknown) website doesn’t provide much informations.

    Could it be dangerous?
    Even though the absobtion of the oméga 3 is bad, the price is really hot.

    Do you advice me to purchase it (1000 capsules).

    Im aiming for intellectual improvement.

    Thanks a lot and sorry if there is any mistakes (as english isn’t my first language)

  76. michael peluso says

    Hi Chris,
    I was hoping you might be able to recommend a good EPA supplement for a patient suffering from cachexia due to end stage renal disease as well as being the recipient of an allogenic stem cell transplant for AML. I have read sever studies citing 1.4-2g of EPA/day can help with Protein Energy-Wasting which is what they call cachexia in ERD patients. She is on peritoneal dialysis so she needs to avoid Vitamin A and K, ironically the ones you spoke about in the recommendations you made above. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

  77. jay kan says

    hi very grateful for all postings here !! just wondering am i right in thinking that both fermented CLO and also krill are not ok cause of potential rancidity and toxicity ??
    also eagerly awaiting what PixE thinks of the Biotrust Omega 3 5x product .. using both krill and fish oil and also in something called Verisorb?? that is supposed to protect it from going rancid….

    • Randi says

      I do not have good enough data on krill, but expect some rancidity/oxidation as this is usually upconcentrated. Upconcentrated fish oils are known to have of the highest totox values. Toxins is a separate issue, and has nothing to do with rancidity. “Fermented” fish oil is also a highly rancid/oxidated product.
      Do not have information about verisorb, but the only way to stop oxidation development is to neutrilize the product at enzyme level and seal the product with nitrogen against exposure to oxigen and light. An already developed oxidation process can not be reversed. Only camouflaged with for instance flavouring.

    • says

      Jay:
      I placed my order for Biotrust Omega 3 5x on Wednesday February 19, 2014 and I am awaiting the product and will analyze the softgel contents and the softgel material to determine what is actually in the supplement. Marketing looks interesting.

      Here is a quote from their website:

      “The Problem…

      Most consumers of nutrition products are often surprised to learn that the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) does not test, monitor or approve dietary supplements.

      Just think about that for a second. This means that all the hundreds of thousands of fat burners, performance boosters, vitamins, minerals, herbs and protein powders you see online and on store shelves everywhere are completely unregulated. It’s difficult to know what you’re really getting.

      You see, the FDA leaves it up to the individual supplement companies to formulate, test and monitor their own products. As you can imagine, many supplement companies cut all kinds of corners when it comes to quality control in order to boost their profit margins.

      Buyer Beware: What Are You Swallowing?”

      Sounds familiar, “the fox guarding the hen house” doctrine.
      I have discovered that some krill oil products masquerading as “krill oil” are actually a mixture of fish oil with astaxanthin and have very little if any krill oil in the capsule. See my sister website: http://www.krilloildetective.com

      I pointed this out to ConsumerLabs.com but they did not act on the information probably because these companies did not pay the fee to have their product evaluated. I am skeptical of these companies “independent testing” publishing data on “approved” or “third party” tested results. I would rather do my own testing which I fund my own research and if anyone wants to challenge my results, I will give them the data. My philosophy on dietary supplements is not to trust, but to verify.

      Some of these companies offering “independent testing” ratings are for profit and some will redirect your inquiry about the product to a web site selling the product. To me, this is a conflict of interest. However, some of these rating sites “independent testing” do provide a service to weed out products that are mislabeled and report that the label contents do not match rating companies “independent testing” values.

      I guest you have to start somewhere.

      Pixe

      • says

        Chris, Marshall, Randi, Pixe and Altostrata, and everyone else who pitched in here, thank you for such an illuminating discussion. I greatly appreciate you all sharing what you know, and good questions to ask, as we seek to take advantage of the choices that we have, and make intelligent decisions based on our own priorities.

        • says

          Grace:
          Here is an excellent article tracing the development of the human brain. Article is open access (free to download).

          Nutrients 2011, 3, 529-554; doi:10.3390/nu3050529

          Title: “Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): An Ancient Nutrient for the Modern Human Brain”
          Here is a segment of the abstract in case others don’t want to waste their time reading the entire article.

          “Abstract: Modern humans have evolved with a staple source of preformed
          docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the diet. An important turning point in human evolution was the discovery of high-quality, easily digested nutrients from coastal seafood and inland freshwater sources. Multi-generational exploitation of seafood by shore-based dwellers coincided with the rapid expansion of grey matter in the cerebral cortex, which characterizes the modern human brain.”

          “The excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids in the modern Western diet further displaces DHA from membrane phospholipids. An emerging body of research is exploring a unique role for DHA in neurodevelopment and the prevention of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. DHA is increasingly being added back into the food supply as fish oil or algal oil supplementation.”

          Enjoy,
          Pixe

          • says

            Dear Pixe, I greatly appreciate all of the information you have been sharing. I just finished studying the entire comments here, and taking notes, and following the links. Fascinating! Thank you for helping me to understand fish oil processing, EFA synthesis and digestion, and the comparison between flax/fish/krill oils. You taught me to see through claims of purified Omega-3s, and distinguish between the EFAs .

            I’m thinking that I want to use a fish oil that is as close to eating the real food as possible, for when I don’t eat as much fish as usual. I believe that the real food likely has properties that we haven’t discovered and encapsulated yet.

            I narrowed my choices down to include a few that I didn’t see you mention:
            Pure Alaska Salmon Oil (I like their story)
            Barlean’s Wild & Whole Salmon Oil (I used to think that they were a reputable brand)
            Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil, Salmon Oil, Norwegian Cod LIver Oil, and Calamari Oil (I used to think that they were a low-quality brand)

            Will you share what you know about these products? Are they the real thing?

            Congrats on your Omega-3 test result! :) Unfortunately, it is illegal where I live :( but I’m sure my dr. will do one at my next appt. :)

      • Randi says

        This is very important information about dietary supplements. It falls in between regulations. It is not food, and it is not medicine, and regulations are few. All consumers should therefore pay attention to content and quality of their dietary supplements.

  78. says

    Pending US Senate bill S. 1310.
    If you are for or against more government regulations to protect the consumer from tainted dietary supplements, false advertising, label errors, and dangerous impurities, contact your senator about pending Senate bill S-1310. A bill to: “To improve the safety of dietary supplements by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require manufacturers of dietary supplements to register dietary supplement products with the Food and Drug Administration and to amend labeling requirements with respect to dietary supplements.” You can read the bill at:

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1310is/pdf/BILLS-112s1310is.pdf .

    Pixe

    • says

      This bill would effectively allow the “Government” to restrict and punish companies who produce supplements of any kind. At which point the “Government” decides something in that supplement is harmful. So no, this is a very bad idea to support this bill. It may make supplement companies more liable to share exactly what is in their product. But at the same time, the abuses of this bill and the removal of ingredients that some board deems as harmful far out weight its helpfulness. Why make more laws? Why not let the consumer independently find out what is the best? Isn’t that in fact the point of this blog? Weak and bad products will get weeded out naturally by us discerning people. Like you Pixe.

  79. Tom G says

    I am diagnosed Bipolar and Adult ADD. I have a meds regimen which works well for me but dosages are high for each med, hence to avert a depressive episode I found it necessary to add fish oil. It is best to avoid any depression, or return to stable as soon as possible, otherwise I may need to increase dosage of my regular meds, but not a good option because I already take high doses. Should I need to increase it might be better for me to begin ECT treatments.

    I use OmegaBrite fish oil gelcaps at a set dosage of 4 softgels daily, I can take more if I start to become depressed, but then the issue becomes cost per day. So I am considering trying another brand. Problem is I don’t know enough to make a dosage comparison between one brand and another, nor can I determine which other brands would come closest to OmegaBrite comparing doses.

    Btw, I am extremely grateful that fish oil has been so successful, consistent, while being flexible to change. It’s like my quality of life given my disorders, depends on fish oil, acting as a natural med.

    • says

      Tom:
      Reference to OM3 and depression.
      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/143/11/1743.full.pdf+html
      “n-3 Fatty Acid Intakes Are Inversely Related to
      Elevated Depressive Symptoms among United
      States Women”

      Here is the summary of the article: “In sum, among United States women, higher intakes of n–3 fatty acids [absolute (n–3) and relative to n–6 fatty acids (n–3:n–6)] were associated with lower risk of elevated depressive symptoms, specifically in domains of somatic complaints (mainly n–3 PUFAs) and positive affect mainly n–3 HUFAs).” Please not that I am not a physician and this information is in the public domain along with numerous other publications showing the correlation with increased consumption of omega-3s EPA+DHA supplied by the diet and alternatively by dietary supplements.

      OmegaBrite is not fish oil and it is the ethyl ester and may not provide optimum support for cognitive decline.

      There are other OM3 supplements that are in TAG with higher DHA than EPA that perhaps will be more appropriate for cognitive support. However, I am not trying to sway your choice one way or the other about whether you choose to EE or TAG supplement. I take the common sense approach that fish contain TAG and dietary supplements based on what is in the fish is better for you if you must supplement your diet. The one of the most abundant fatty acids in the brain is DHA esterified to phospholipids. Current debate is whether krill oil is best at providing DHA to the brain and the mechanism of transport across the blood brain barrier is from non-esterified (free) DHA in the plasma bound to albumin.

      There is extensive research being conducted using re-esterified TAG omega-3s for treating cognitive decline and depression.

      As always, check with your health care provider before you take any dietary supplements.

      Pixe

      • Tom G says

        Hi Pixie,

        Thank you for your very informative reply to my question.

        Per fish oil, from the Omega-Brite website:

        “Scientifically formulated by Carol Locke, MD, while on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, OmegaBrite® is a concentrated high EPA, pharmaceutical-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement from fish oil promoting positive mood, cardiac and joint health, and overall well being.”

        “OmegaBrite®’s total omega-3 concentration is 90%, making it 3X more potent than most common fish oil brands on the market. Only OmegaBrite® contains 70% EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the highest concentration available of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule. One OmegaBrite® 500mg softgel capsule supplies you with 350mg of EPA and 50mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Many healthcare professionals recommend this 7:1 ratio, which is the highest in the industry.”

        I’d be interested to know from what information source you learned that OmegaBrite isn’t made from fish oil.
        As an aside, I’ve taken OmegaBrite for over 20 years, such that by now my body digests it with only occasional “fishy” burps, but when I do have burps now they’re still fishy tasting. Anyway, it’s a minor point.

        I will follow up the study which you quoted from, and find other peer reviewed studies. I hope at least one will be double-blind and have a large enough cohort to obtain more significant results. Thanks for posting the excerpt.

        I will continue to investigate to find a Omega 3 supplement which is both effective and safe, and easily tolerated by me, at a lower price, if obtainable.
        Meanwhile, Omega-Brite has been consistently helpful. My own concern is that at some point in the future I may need to take <3 grams EPA Omega-Brite, or 7 gelcaps daily, which on my present income is expensive indeed.

        Thanks again! If you have further comments, info to pass along I will be most grateful to receive.

        Tom

        • Randi says

          As I have commented before on this site. “Fishy burps” is not a sign of a good quality oil. It is rather a sign of oxidated oil which your body is trying to get rid of. That’s why the burping. Please search the internet for what oxidation does to your cells. Just a little reminder

          • Tom G says

            I need to clarify: I have no fishy burps, not even slight ones, with OmegaBrite, nor have I ever had them as best I can remember. My memory isn’t reliable enough, specifically to recall which brands of fish oil caps did produce fishy burps twenty years ago, but I can say I definitely haven’t experienced any since 1999, which is when I resumed taking OmegaBrite 4 caps per day specifically for symptoms of bipolar disorder, on the recommendation of my psychiatrist.

            Sorry you were mislead by my initial comment, to which I didn’t pay close enough attention.

            • Tom G says

              and, I well know what oxidation does to cells. Believe me when I say I have done my own exhaustive research of all available literature, and I have further studied to discover how each peer reviewed and published research study was designed, in addition to spending 5+ years professional work for a mental health research center, where I was paid to analyze in-house studies which then were later published in the top tier medical and mental health journals.

              I know that in no way qualifies me as having *any degree of professional authority* — I’m no doubt not an “expert”— to do anything but comment mental health, mental health related and/or specific psychiatric or behavioral disorders in any authority. I’m a science writer and a mental health patient for 15 years.

              • Tom G says

                sorry for all my sub-comments.

                Since I did little else in this section than ask my question, read other comments with their corresponding replies; then cranked at length about something that actually was my fault.

                My experience thus far of your blog is a positive one, and I really appreciate and respect your perspective on health matters generally, given your extensive apparently high quality education and training, including alternative and Oriental medicine. You write very well and you seem to me careful and cautious in your suggestions and recommendations not to overstate your expertise. And you aren’t or don’t seem to be dogmatic or ideological. I will enjoy keeping up with your blog. I need all the help I can get with my bipolar disorder, a need which never has stopped and I doubt ever will.

                Sincerely,

                Tom

  80. shari says

    I always rely on Nordic Naturals because they are number one in all the important areas when it comes to deciding how to choose a quality fish oil. First, they surpass all international pharmaceutical standards, they offer their oils in the true triglyceride form, they have exceptional purity and freshness, they have control over the manufacturing from boat to bottle, there are 25 published studies on their products and more than 30 in progress and their corporate social responsibility is unmatched. They will offer anyone a certificate of analysis if you call or email them and ask. They have every certification imaginable and they have won many many awards. Perhaps this is why they are the number one selling fish oil brand in the USA. To learn more, see http://www.nordicnaturals.com/en/About_Us_portal/Why_Nordic_Naturals/626. I trust this company because they have invested in this industry and they are transparent in what they do. I have yet to see a purer, fresher, great tasting oil.

  81. Rob says

    Chris Keller,

    I’m appreciative of this extensive review of fish oil, very informative and helps me decide on what to buy.

    I’m just wondering why you didn’t include the fact that Krill Oil is contaminated and that Krill Oil cannot be purified of toxins, pcb’s etc. like fish oil can?

    Here’s a link that further explains:

  82. Denis says

    PIXE,

    From your previous posts, I understand that “Quell Fish Oil EPA/DHA Plus D 60 Softgels” are very high quality supplies. It also has VitaminD3 which is great for me since I am almost getting zero amount of direct sunlight here in one of the coldest cities in Canada. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to find Quells in Canada. What other brands would you advice equal to that one and easy to find in Canada?

    PS: I would like to have 1 pills instead of 2 so I eliminated “Nordic Naturals Ultimates”.

  83. says

    Thank you for some great research. I stumbled across your site today after having just sat through a 30 minute video extolling the virtues of a ‘new’ Krill Oil product.

    It was very convincing to the average person on the street and obviously highly sales driven to sell the product. The presenters appear to be well credentialed having medical and research backgrounds which also makes the claims about the product quite plausible.

    This is the reason I decided to do some further research as I find so many conflicting views about the benefits of Omega Oils in general.

    I would be very interested to hear your comments on this particular product. It is called Omega Krill 5X from Bio Trust Nutrition or biotrust.com.

    Thank you – John F

        • says

          That non-ionic surfactant is polysorbate 80. Some people have had an allergic reaction to this compound. Do a search to see what you come up with. I am not sure why the company did not list the true identity of this compound. Perhaps they don’t know what it is.
          Pixe

  84. David says

    Thought this might be of general interest … Fish Oil Reports (www.fishoilreports.com) is an independent ranking of the best fish oil supplements by cost per gram of EPA and DHA. It also includes IFOS quality ratings. I found it very useful in my search for a good (but cheap) fish oil supplement.

    • says

      This is the sort of information that consumers need, rather than PIXE’s more abstract approach, though I wonder about the inclusion of Nature Made. I bought some and it smelled awful. Returned!

      • says

        Altostrata:
        The http://www.fishoilreports.com does not tell the whole story. It is only for price which does not equal quality, source, accuracy of the labels, and the identity of the liquid in the softgels. My comments are based on science and has nothing to do with price.

        However, many consumers are taking more fish oil than is necessary because your body will reach a steady-state concentration of omega-3s. Spend the money to get an omega-3 index report rather than investing in perhaps useless brands of omega-3 dietary supplements. Depending on your goal, you will perhaps need a targeted health outcome approach. Do you need cognitive support, then you will need more DHA than EPA. For cardio, you may need EPA only.

        In the end, the best approach to omega-3 deficiencies is from the diet if the source of the marine organisms are low in toxins.

        Pixe

        • says

          I agree, PIXE, your site contains much extremely valuable information, and you are much more concerned about quality, which I appreciate very much. But — the formats you use to present the data make retrieving and interpreting your information difficult to someone who is a consumer rather than a biochem researcher.

  85. Randi says

    There was also a comment about how it may be good for the fish oil that it is heated during the process of removing toxins and PCBs. My respond to that is that the oil is of course “stressed” in a way, going through such a process. However if the crude oil is low oxidized and of very good quality, the process itself is quick in a sence that it will reach a very high temperature during a very short time. After all it is important also not to take an oil with toxins and PCBs. Therefore this process is important.

  86. Jami says

    What are your thoughts on Advocare’s Omega Plex? One serving contains 600mg EHA and 400mg DHA with 6 IU of Vitamin E. Recommended dosage is 2 capsules twice daily. Do you have an opinion on this dosage or on this particular brand? My husband needs to improve his lipids (he is currently walking & eating healthy). With those two changes he was able to bring his Triglycerides down 125 points but still has work to do. I want to make sure I get informed opinions before I make my final choice on brands.
    Thank you for your article; there is a lot of information!

  87. Jacob says

    Carlson EcoSmart Omega-3 is another calamari oil product like Jarrow Max DHA. They are about the same price per gram of DHA, but Carlson’s has more EPA. Nowhere does Carlson say they are using Pharma Marine’s Calamarine product, but the Carlson product details line up perfectly with the Calamarine 140/360 ethyl ester formulation. Each gelcap has 1000 mg of calamari oil, of which 140 mg is EPA and 360 mg is DHA.

    The flavor is mild – barely fishy at all. If I take them without food, worst case I just get lemon burps. Look for Carlson’s in a 180-count bottle, or in a 90-count bottle with 30-count bonus for the best price.

  88. Mark says

    Also, i forgot to add, isn’t heat extraction used in all fish oil supplement production? (except for the cold pressed green pastures fermented product) and if so, then the chances are that the fragile PUFS will be damaged and turn rancid in the capsule. I’m not sure if the heat used in extraction is ‘gentle? but if not then surely ALL omega 3 fish oil supplements should be avoided as you are consuming rancid PUFS? Also, if the heat used is not ‘gentle’ then does this also apply to all non cold pressed/fermented cod liver oil products??? Surely HEAT is the important factor here?

  89. Mark says

    I live in the UK and after spending over an hour reading this thread (and getting mightily confused along the way) i want to ask if i can just eat oily fish 3 times a week and eat Kerrygold butter (which is grass fed) for my omega 3’s???!!!
    Seems a lot easier and even pixe says it is best to get nutrients from whole foods first and supplement secondly. Maybe oily fish is the best/safest way to go re omega 3’s? Selenium in the fish should protect from the heavy metals and eating oily fish low in the food chain should also help.
    Just a thought

    • Randi says

      Suprisingly no comments about Anicidine and Peroxide value. Oxidated supplements still don’t have focus in the industry. This is in my opinion the most important feature besides toxins and PCB. Oxidation produces free radicals which again is known to be bad for your cells. I focus less on EPA /DHA as the difference and effect is minimal. I focus more on oxidation and toxins. I don’t want to take anything that may help me get cancer.

  90. Alexander says

    Here was I looking for information as to the best fish oil obtainable, from someone who had studied the subject. I looked at the beginning comments that were posted A W A Y back in May, 2011 and stared taking notes as to what should be taken or avoided.
    The more I read, the more confused I became, then to add to my misery, it would appear that on January, 2012, Chris Kresser donned a cape and became ‘Mighty Pixie’, a man of few words, and the color of the mud deepened.
    Sigh … I guess I’ll just continue buying what I’ve been purchasing for the past several years

    • says

      Alexander:
      Sorry if I offended you with my post because I thought I was just trying to be helpful by supplying additional information. If you were to ask a question about the product you have been taking “for the past several years” and I discovered that it was marine biodiesel, I would let you know so that your health is not compromised. Do you care to share with us the product you have been taking “for the past several years”? I take Triglyceride Omega-3 Gold that supplies 400 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per capsule that gives a total of 600 mg/day. This is approximately what the American Heart Association is recommending for those with out heart disease. This product is what is known as re-esterified fish oil. The fish oil “is sourced from certified sustainable wild-caught Pacific fish (Cod, Pollack) found in deep, cold, pure Alaskan Ocean waters.”

      Hope you continue to enjoy your product that you have been taking for the past several years and I hope it is not marine biodiesel.

      Pixe

  91. Rhonda says

    Hi, I am totally confused as to what I should or should not be taking as far as Fish Oil goes. I have been taking Blackmores and recently purchased Natures Own Omega Platinum. Are either of these good or bad for me. Do I even need to take Fish Oil? My husband and I are 56 years old and thought we were doing the right thing but it appears we may not be :(

    • says

      Rhonda:
      I am just jumping in here to add some additional information to the discussion even though the question was addressed to Chris.

      Since I believe you are from Australia, which has the TGA, which is protecting the citizens of your country, the two products you mentioned are good and are approved. See http://www.tga.gov.au/hp/msu-2010-02.htm#.UtwinhAo671 which gives some info on intake. In the US, the AHA recommends about 600 mg/day EPA+DHA for those without heart disease. Check to see if Australia has a DRI (dietary reference intake) for omega-3s. Many foods are fortified with omega-3s such as eggs, breads, etc so that everyone is getting some of these omega-3s. The question is, how much additional omega-3s do you need will depend on your diet and how much oil fish you eat. Normally, get the nutrient from your diet first, then supplement on a need-to-basis. Other issues consumers face are pollutants in the fish and the cost and time for preparation not to mention access to this food source.

      Here is the reference to your Omega Platinum http://www.naturesown.com.au/omega-platinum/. This product contains a combination of both real fish oil and krill oil. Therefore, you get the benefits of both EPA+DHA bound to TAG and PL (Phospholipids).
      Pixe

  92. Kris says

    Hi everyone, I am curious to know your thoughts and if you have ever heard of Designs for Health. I am currently looking for a good Omega 3 to use while pregnant. They have a Prenatal pack that includes something called OmegAvail. With all the comments I have read above this seems good but maybe I am missing something. Here is the link to the website. They even post a certificate of analysis.

    http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/OmegAvail-Hi-Po-60-capsules?sc=2&category=3793

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

    Kris

  93. Dan says

    I’ve personally got the Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil and NOW’s Neptune Krill 1000(not sure where I read the recommendation for that one) Anyways, should I be taking both each day and if so how do you dose them? I intermittent fast and typically eat my first meal around noon. It’s usually then I pop 1 Krill pill. Then another after dinner at 7ish. I’m just trying to figure out how to get the cod liver oil in. Maybe a rotation of some sort. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  94. Kim says

    We ran out of Carlson’s Fish Oil liquid several months ago, and need to order again. Just listened to The Ugly Truth About Fish Oil, and he (Steven Sisskind, MD), sells Real Dose Super Critical Omega 3-TG. Would it be that much better than Carlson’s Fish Oil? So many choices, which to get?

    • Randi says

      Would stick to Carlsons which is produced of fresh cod liver oil during winter-time when temperatures are low in Norway and Iceland; against 3-TG of anchoveta from Peru produced under high temparatures and highly exposed to oxidation.

      • Kim says

        Thanks Randi. If there are any other brands equal or better would consider them, too. Otherwise will order Carlson’s.

  95. says

    I recently got some Nature Made Fish Oil One Per Day (1200 mg One Per Day formulation, 1 softgel provides 720mg of total omega-3s) from Walgreens.

    It smelled bad and generated fish burps, unusual for me. I returned it to Walgreens. No more Nature Made for me.

    • Randi says

      If you burp from fish oil, it’s your body telling you that this is not good for you. Your body knows that oxidized oil is not good for the cells, and it’s therefore trying to get rid of it.

  96. Denis says

    -I am a 26yo male.
    -I don’t have any health issues that I know. Just a few extra pounds..
    -My name memory is weak ( not too bad though )
    -My heart beats a little faster than its supposed to.
    -I don’t know if all of these info matters or not.
    I am just looking for a fish oil supply that wouldn’t be a problem if I use for many consecutive months because of some extra vitamins it includes. I know that some vitamins are harmful when you take them too much without taking a break. I don’t like to take a break and pretty ironic enough that I don’t want having to remember taking more than one pill a day. So just one.( I used to take GNC Triple Strength but not sure if that is the best) Money is not an issue at all. So which specific brands are good for me in a very long run?

  97. James Bagley says

    Where is USANA? They are generally the number one choice in the extensive Nutrisearch Comparitive Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Over 500 supplements are extensively tested in these editions. Worth looking into. Due your research.

  98. Dedee says

    I’m confused about the recommended Jarrow Max DHA. The article says it’s made from anchovies and sardines, but the Jarrow website says it’s made from calamari. Is calamari also naturally low in contaminants?

    • says

      Dedee:
      My bottle of Jarrow formulaes Max DHA list on the bottle that it is from Calamari. However, doing some research on Jarrow’s products leads me to suspect something fishy here. Jarrow imports their oil and I originally thought they were a refiner and encapsulator. I take this product because of the high DHA content and the price is reasonable. However, until I can verify the source of the DHA, I am offering a recommendation with caution. The product that is in some Calamari products is the ethyl ester Calamarine® EE Marine Oil and is clearly marked in the “Supplement Facts Panel”. This ethyl ester product cannot be purchased in Australia because it is ethyl ester. However, Australia did approve of Nature’s Way calamari oil but only the TAG. If you are in Australia, here is the link: http://agencysearch.australia.gov.au/s/search.html?query=squid&collection=agencies&profile=tga. Here is the link for different calamarine products.: http://www.pharmamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=22.

      I have nothing against omega-3 ethyl esters and they have saved thousands of lives with the prescription drug Lovaza. My gripe is that many of the products listed as “fish oil” are not fish oil and instead are chemical compounds synthesized from oils extracted from fish. Fish oil is the oil extracted from fish and refined. Think of the oil extracted from fish as being the same type of fats (TAG) extracted from olive, peanut, corn, and linseed. Would you want your olive oil to be the ethyl esters of olive oil? They would not taste the same and are not bioequivalent. Do your due diligence and check what you are putting in your body as a dietary supplement. Remember, you are supplementing your diet with EPA and DHA and not their ethyl esters. When you eat fish, your diet will contain EPA and DHA as TAG molecules as nature has designed your digestive system. Remember, your first meal at your birth was fat (TAG).

      PIXE

  99. says

    Chris:
    Do you have any old fish oil dietary supplements and if so what are the brands and composition? I have in my collection more than 800 different products and I am trying to trace the history of different products when they came onto the market and what was the formulation. Any one else is also welcome to contribute to the discussion.
    Pixe

  100. Barry Cohen says

    Mercola has Krill that he offers for about $25 a bottle, a month supply or so I have to check. Does anyone know anything about his Krill Oil? This forum hasnt had the best reviews of his site.

  101. Seamaster says

    Pixe-
    First thanks so much for your willingness to help educate and offer your time to share your research. Could you offer your thoughts on Nordic Naturals, EPA Xtra, Lemon, 1000 mg?

    Thx!!

  102. rachel says

    What are recommendations for taking a liquid fish oil vs gel caps, enteric coating? Which is best for digestion for people with digestive challenges? What about NutraSea, any news?
    Appreciate the author’s article and hopes he comments also. Thoughts welcome.

  103. Susan Bruzzese says

    this is the most confusing post ever! PIXIE, in simplest forms, can you just list the products that you suggest I’m more confused now than ever with tag ,ee etc. I have no idea what to look for. I did go on your website, and it was lacking information that one can use. Would love to see a list of brands that are suggested.

    • says

      Susan:
      Sorry for the confusion. I will hopefully get a list together of some high quality products after I do some more detailed provenance studies. For the time being, a good product is Nutrigold Triglyceride (made in the USA) product. It is rTAG. What this means is that it is synthetic fish oil. To explain, let’s start with the source oil for this product. It comes from fish offal (cuttings) of Alaskan Pollock and whiting from the Alaskan fishery. Because Pollock and whiting are one of the largest fisheries in the world, the maintenance of this fishery is kept in the highest standards. As a result, products coming from this fishery are highly characterized and of the highest quality and the pollutants are highly monitored. For details see the textbook http://seagrant.uaf.edu/bookstore/pubs/ak-sg-10-02front-matter.pdf.

      Now, in natural fish oil TAG, think of the capital letter E. The backbone of this letter is say glycerol (glycerin). Each of the rungs coming off E are fatty acids. In natural fish oil, the first rung (sn-1) will contain a saturated fatty acid such as palmitic acid or EPA. On rung 2 will mostly contain DHA (sn-2) and on rung 3 will mostly be another saturated or monounsaturated acid. This arrangement will depend on the species of fish, but most fish sources used in the production of “fish oil” dietary supplements will have a composition of about 30% EPA+DHA. This is where the term “18/12 TG oil” comes from i.e. 18% EPA and 12% DHA per 1.000 mg of oil or 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per softgel. This was the formulation of the first prescription fish oil, MaxEPA that was approved for marketing in the UK back in 1982 (http://www.seven-seas.com/history).

      Now, for rTAG, heat natural refined TAG oil with ethanol and a catalyst (NaOEt) to remove the fatty acids (rungs) from glycerol with a process referred to as transeterification to convert the fatty acids to fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE). Next, do a molecular distillation to get rid of the lower (<C20) chain fatty acid ethyl esters and concentrate the higher chain FAEE such as EPA, DHA, and DPA. Take this solution and USP glycerol (glycerin) in the presence of a lipid enzyme or a catalyst to re-esterify (put back onto glycerol) the omega-3s and anything else that is left in the pot. Now, E will have essentially these three omega-3s attached on the three rungs. Now, instead of 30% EPA+DHA, the concentration has increased to perhaps 70%. What is important is that during digestion (a sequential process starting in the mouth), then moving to the stomach, the fatty acids in sn-3 will come off first (about 10% loss). Since there is a high probability that this will be either EPA or DHA will mean that your chances of absorption of these omega-3s will increase. The next sequential step is in the gut lumen where pancreatic lipase will take off the fatty acid (EPA or DHA) in position sn-1and sn-3 leaving DHA or EPA in the sn-2 position that form MAGs (2-monoacyls-sn-glycerol) which go to the enterocytes to be re-acylated (build the TAG back) and get you back E with high probability that all three rungs on glycerol contain an omega-3. In nature, you will not find TAGs with this high combination of omega-3s on the same glycerol molecule.

      To make things more interesting, some rTAGs do not have all three positions of glycerol occupied with a fatty acid due to incomplete reaction. This will lead to some MAGs (2-monoacyls-sn-glycerol) being already preformed and don’t need to be digested and will have direct passive into the enterocytes. This will mean faster absorption. For Nordic Naturals, most of their product line are rTAGs with higher amounts of these MAGs (1-5%). Some argue that this composition is more bioavailable. See the free download article on rTAGs etc. from http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/19/4/499.pdf.

      Sorry for all the “verbiage.”

      Pixe

  104. Dionnie says

    Hi!!
    I would like to know to know how to order this product (Moller’s dobbel omega3) my brother is very much interesting to try this medicine.. Please,,, how?

    Thanks

  105. ANOUK says

    Certainly lot of valuable information here. I was looking for a good quality fish oil, and ended up getting the Minami Nutrition MoEPA Plus, however I am also concerned on ANY FISH or FISH OIL that comes from the Pacific. Since Fukushima Nuclear Incident all pacific is loaded with radiation. As I avoid eating my so loved wild caught salmon from the Pacific, does anyone here knows where to get such a high quality fish oil capsules?

  106. Tom says

    In contradiction to your recommendation i read on the product Description of Jarrows Max DHA that they are made of calamari! What do you make of that?

    • says

      Jarrow’s MaxDHA is a good product that is TAG and is made from the cuttings of calamari. Be careful with calamari sourced omega-3 because there are also ethyl esters of this product.
      Pixe

  107. E says

    Honestly, I am so overwhelmed at all of the info. I thought I was doing okay with just getting what was on sale at my local pharmacy. I can’t spend a lot. I did find these three on Amazon. What do you think? Help please.
    1. Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CAZAU62/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2SL8Y99LODHT6
    2. Pacific Coast fish oil platinum
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CDGJIAW/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A7ZGEPJRH20Z1
    3. Naturerenetics Premium 3
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DMWOBJY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A15AF0O615KNQI

  108. Chris Morris says

    Chris,
    Thank you so much for all the valuable information! My concerns are to reduce Triglycerides and inflammation related to asthma. I have been taking Kirkland Signature brand fish oil softgels. One softgel contains 410mg of EPA and 274mg of DHA. They claim deep water fish are used from Canada (anchovy and sardines) from fish oil concentrate. They claim a purification process to remove PCB’s. Is this product any good? It is about $12.00 for 180 softgels. Thank you.

  109. kbird says

    Chris,
    I am researching fish oil supplements for a recent RA diagnosis. Do you have any info/opinion about the product “Omega3 TG” manufactured by Athletic Greens?

    If I understand your recommendations correctly, I might consider taking a baseline (Green Pastures) PLUS a supplemental (Jarrow Max)?
    Thanks!

  110. tracey says

    hi Im currently pregnant wanted to switch from a prenatal dha that was fish oil I was afraid of the mercury or toxin possibility. I did take this with my son he is amazing and bright and it is prenatal but at the time I didn’t realize there are options to fish supplied dha. I started taking a vegan dha epa Ovega-3 however I have very sensitive skin, I have now noticed after one bottle my skin is a mess my hands are so sore eczema red spots burning itching, winter itch on legs etc. my nursing son even has a little rash on his bottom and this is not normal for him. I ordered Naturewise Krill oil. I get nervous starting a new product. I have anxiety and worry about silly things. From what I read this is a quality supplement and company. Has anyone else taken this during pregnancy? My midwife told me I do need to stop taking a month before my due date . I assume this has to do with blood clotting, what if something were to happen early is this unsafe? if not pregnant- What happens if you have an accident and need surgery? I sure hope this is a good one. http://www.amazon.com/NatureWise-OmegaWise-Superba-Traceability-Softgels/dp/B00EFVQ3OC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387417319&sr=8-1&keywords=naturewise+krill

  111. Tania says

    Great info, thank you! Unless I have missed it, could you please explain why ever since I have started taking omega-3s- Nordic Naturals, my back has been breaking out with severe acne including cystic acne. The skin on my back was flawless before this. Please help!! Thank you!

  112. Barry Cohen says

    I like Krill because of the pill size and all you mentioned above. Can you take BOTH fish oil and krill? Is it too much?? Also Vital Choice has a Krill….not sure what to do and what about the Liquid DHA?

    • Randi Bolstad says

      I know as working with a producer that Nordic Naturals are very careful about selecting their quality oil that they use in their products. They are very quality minded and one of the best in my opinion. Also “Omega-cure” is a tremendous pure quality product of CLO. If you don’t want to take the oil, I would at least bite the soft-gel to test the quality. Tasting is the way to know if your product is rancid (oxidated or not)

  113. Walker says

    Hi! I am interested in starting to take fish oil daily. I was wondering what you thoughts are on Beachbody’s Core Omega-3? Thank you

  114. Dan says

    Can anyone recommend a good fish oil in liquid form? My understanding is that for one it works out cheaper and secondly it doesn’t contain any additives that you would find in capsules. I’m also interested in Krill oil. Perhaps a combination of a fish oil and krill oil product.

    Also, is there a good source for reviews? Sorry if this has been asked before.

    Thanks!

  115. Ivan says

    Hello, at this moment I take Xtend-Life Omega 3 / QH Ultra. I was a little tired and simple I want to try someone else’s product, and when I entered into a search engine then I get scared when I just saw how much of the product on the market
    Is there something equal or better that you can recommend as best-buy based on your experience for daily use.
    Regards
    Ivan

  116. Trish says

    I was curious. I am looking for a product to use daily for my acne. Should I be take a fish oil from BOTH the baseline and supplemental level daily?

  117. dee says

    I’m looking for recommendations for pregnant vegetarians who eat no fish whatsoever. I also have high cholestrol.

    • says

      Dee:
      The product that you are looking for will have the logo or trademark of “LifesDHA”. This is a DHA only product derived from single cell organisms. LifesDHA contains the product DocosaHexaenoic Acid Single Cell Organism (DHASCO) made by DSM (formally Martek) and is extracted from the unicellular alga Crypthecodinium cohnii. Deva Vegan Vitamins has both DHA (LifesDHA) and added EPA (non-fish sourced). Amerifit Nutrition Ovega-3 DHA EPA Vegetarian is another product containing both. You need to have EPA to reduce cholesterol. However, the doses in these dietary supplements may not be the strength you need unless you take several of the capsules.

      You need to be careful of these dietary supplements and make sure that the label says “LifesDHA”. This product containing DHASCO has generally recognized as safe (GRAS # 41) status and is approved for use in infant formula. I am quoting from New Zealand A Safety Assessment TECHNICAL REPORT SERIES NO. 22 “DHASCO is produced from C. cohnii using fermentation techniques. Cultures of the organism are grown up in liquid medium in shaker flasks and are transferred to progressively larger vessels. When the culture reaches a specified cell density and fatty acid content, the cells are harvested by centrifugation and spray dried. The process for extraction of the oil is basically the same as that used in conventional vegetable oil processing plants. The oil is extracted from the biomass by blending the biomass with hexane in a continuous extraction process.”

      Here are some products that are marketed towards pregnant and nursing moms that have the “LifesDHA” trademark: Expecta Lipil DHA. See http://www.lifesdha.com/find-lifes-dha/products.aspx for more products. I am sure there are others but the price is high due to marketing to these groups. Also, many of these products only contain 30 supplements per bottle. You are better off purchasing a LifesDHA product that is not marketed towards women and you will get a much better price for the same ingredients.

      For pregnancy outcome, 600 mg DHA/d has been recommended. Here is an excerpt from a publication: “A supplement of 600 mg DHA/d in the last half of
      gestation resulted in overall greater gestation duration and infant
      size. A reduction in early preterm and very-low birth weight could
      be important clinical and public health outcomes of DHA supplementation.
      This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00266825.” From “DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes” in Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:808–15.

      Good luck on your pregnancy,
      PIXE

  118. rocks2stocks says

    Kelly,

    I very much appreciate PIXE taking the time to share his knowledge here. From him I have learned the important differences between TAG, EE and rTag supplements. My only complaint is that sometimes his links don’t work. This one does http://www.pharmamarine.com . (The Jarrow site does not state that Max DHA is made with Calamarine. Perhaps the website has not been updated to reflect the reformulation.)

    PIXE has not hijacked Chris’ blog. He is posting on what would otherwise be a dead thread. I would suggest that no one try to imagine how Chris feels about it.

    Thanks, PIXE.

    • says

      Kelly:
      Sorry about the link. Perhaps this will work: http://www.pharmamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=22
      There is a table of the contents of the different types of oils TAG vs. EE. Just compare the label on any product with the listing. Pharmamarine is suppose to be the only supplier of Calamari oil but that does not mean that someone else could be selling it unregistered. Although Jarrow’s formulae does not match the currently listing on Pharmarine does not concern me since the content of the oil changes and they could perhaps be selling a different formula. In addition, Jarrow could of purshased the raw oil and then re-esterified it to get the formula that is not listed. My data shows that my bottle has rTAG. I will check to see why the trademark Calamarine is not on Jarrow’s MaxDHA.

      I am only reporting the chemical forms of these oils since this is the major concern of an effective product for various disease. I apologize if I have not provided any mercury or other toxin data since this is also of concern. These products are purified to reduce these contaminants to accepted standards. Calamari are low in contaminants because of low lifespan. In addition, the part of the calamari that is used for producing the oil is from the cuttings.

      PIXE

  119. Ben says

    Hi Chris,

    Add me to the list of people who would like to know what you think of the new Jarrow Max DHA formula, which is made from “calamari oil” (Marketing-speak for squid?). It’s still a great price, so I’d like to know what you think.

    Thanks,

    Ben

    • says

      Ben:
      Jarrow’s revised formula Max DHA is a high quality product and it is TAG oil from the waste cuttings of wild squid. To learn more about the product visit the producer’s web site http://www.pharmamarine.com. My bottle Lot# 48269k 12 Ex. 11/14 was purchased from Amazon at $22.37 for 180 softgels. Each softgel supplies 250 mg DHA and 65 mg EPA. Researchers are recommending higher DHA intakes for pregnancy and lactating moms. High DHA is suspected of decreasing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and may result in a reduction of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

      The company makes both the ethyl ester and TAG derivatives of the product and you must be careful of which one you select. See my post early on in regards to Dr.’s Best DHA 500 which is an ethyl ester.

      PIXE

      • Kelly says

        Pixe,

        I don’t understand why you keep posting, basically hijacking poor Chris’ blog. You’re clearly passionate about certain types of fish oils, but the fact that you’re not interested in the mercury or other heavy metal content of oils, almost negates your obsession with a particular form of oil. If the brands (with high DHA, which I’ve read over and over are not the type to get) are contaminated with heavy metals, why would they be preferable over others that have been purified?

        Sigh…

  120. pen says

    I am iodine sensitive…….one of three doctors says hashemotos…… considering this….. which product would you recommend… thank u!!

  121. Lisa J. says

    In all honesty, I’m somewhat skeptical of fermented cod liver oil.

    Have there been independent lab tests on the benefits of fermented cod liver oil? I’m emailed Green Pastures to ask them questions about their products. Their responses are usually evasive. I wonder why?

    I would love too see more hardcore evidence before jumping the gun.

  122. Penny says

    Hi….I am sensitive to iodine in fish (hashimotos ). I’ve just recently realized that the flushing i have ( poss hashiimotos reaction) ,is attributed to using cod liver oil… I didn’t see any warning in ur article concerning iodine in the fish oil, for hashimotos… Could you plz give ur opinion on this…..I’ve been taking Carlsons Norwegian Cod Liver Oil. Could you plz make a suggestion for me… THANK YOU !

  123. Danny says

    In May of 2010 Chris Kresser recommended Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil. I would really like to purchase a natural triglyceride fish supplement. What I don’t understand is that the EPA is greater than the DHA. I thought it was more beneficial for the DHA to be greater. Please explain.

    • says

      Danny:
      With all do respect to the moderator Chris.

      For VitalChoice “Wild Alaskan” Sockeye Salmon Oil, they forgot to tell their salmon to make the oil with a different DHA/EPA ratio than they naturally produce. My bottle with Lot # uc100411 that expired 8/2012 has 90 softgels. Each softgel supplies 80 mg EPA (8%) and 73 mg DHA (7.3%) for which I paid $22.00. Today, the formulae has not changed and you get 90 softgels for $24.00. The supplement facts is misleading as well as their website because you need to take three softgels to get 240 mg EPA and 220 mg DHA. Again, read your labels before you purchase your dietary supplements. In salmon, the DHA content is greater than EPA. The VitalChoice salmon oil is a low quality product with low concentrations of DHA and EPA. If the EPA is greater than DHA in products that claim to be “salmon oil”, I would not purchase it. It is widely known that there are many fake salmon oil supplements on the market that are just regular fish oil with the red pigment astaxanthin. A more cost effective purchase for high concentrations of DHA would be Jarrow Formulas Max DHA that each softgel provides 250 mg DHA (42%) and 65 mg EPA (11%) in TAG from calamari. My bottle of 180 softgels cost me $16.49 from Vitacost: http://www.vitacost.com/jarrow-formulas-max-dha or $22.37 from Amazon. Price does not include shipping. Wow, that is a tremendous difference in price for the VitalChoice (90 softgels for $22.00, 80 mg EPA, 73 mg DHA) vs. Jarrow Max DHA (250 mg DHA, 65 mg EPA).

      DHA is important for pregnant and nursing women and also has promise for improving cognitive functions. In Canada, they allow the following health claims on DHA rich fish oil: “DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, supports the normal development of the brain, eyes and nerves.”

      Before purchasing salmon oil, see the article: “Supplementing long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in canned wild Pacific pink salmon with Alaska salmon oil” at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fsn3.4/pdf (open access, i.e. free). This article will give you the background information on where salmon oil comes from. In addition, before purchasing salmon oil or any other marine oils, read the USDA detailed database: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/SR25/reports/sr25fg15.pdf. This massive data base will give you information on trace elements as well as fatty acid content of cooked, canned, and different types of raw fish.

      I used this database to calculate how much EPA and DHA you can get from a cooked 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of a salmon steak I purchased for $5.99 for a 4 oz portion. See my photo at http://www.fishoildetective.com to get a perspective of this cooked salmon steak in relation to a bottle of Kirkland’s Natural fish-oil capsules that can be purchased for $7.99 from Costco for 400 capsules. You can also purchase the almost identical Natural fish oil from B.Js. to get their “Berkley & Jensen Natural Extra Strength Fish Oil 1200 Mg” for $8.99, but you only get 300 capsules of the same product as the Kirkland. Both have the USP seal of approval since they are both “fish oil” in TAG as defined by USP.
      PIXE

  124. Danny says

    Hello

    I just looked up Xtendlife Omega3/DHA Fish Oil (on their website) and found this info, “Our Omega3 / DHA Fish Oil is a 50/50 blend of hoki oil in its natural triglyceride form and a concentrated molecularly distilled tuna oil in an ethyl ester form. Both are exceptionally pure.” Would a 50/50 blend be to keep the cost down and how effective would this type of fish oil be?

    Thank you

  125. Danny says

    Hello

    Does anyone have any information regarding Standard Process brand Tuna Omega-3 Oil. I asked about their processing/extraction methods and they stated, “The only additional information I can provide at this time is that it is filtered. Our vendors feel their filtration process is proprietary.” They also stated, “During manufacturing, our marine oils are processed to retain their natural triglyceride structure.” What bothers me is that the information sheet and the packaging doesn’t state anything about ethyl ester or triglycerides. Has anyone on this site found out any more info regarding this brand?

    • says

      Danny:
      My bottle of Standard Process Tuna Omega-3 oil was purchased from Amazon and now the cost is $33.00 for 120 capsules that are pearls that weigh 0.97271 g. Each capsule supplies 150 mg DHA and 30 mg EPA from refined tuna oil, TAG. Refined tuna has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status via three GRAS applications. GRAS numbers 94, 109, and 379 (from Ocean Nutrition Canada) cover tuna oil. Find all GRAS applications at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnNavigation.cfm?rpt=grasListing. GRAS 379 will give you details on how the oil is extracted from tuna byproducts. Also, there are no ethyl ester incorrectly labeled “fish oil” GRAS products. Only TAG oils have GRAS status such as menhaden, salmon, and re-esterified oils. This should tell you something about the safety of TAG oil dietary supplements.

      A better buy would be Jarrow Formulas MaxDHA from Vitacost $16.49 for 180 capsules each supplying 180 mg DHA and 65 mg EPA from Calamari oil that is TAG. Notice that these two dietary supplements have DHA > EPA. In this case, DHA is suppose to be better for retina and brain development. The reason why tuna oil got GRAS was because it is used in baby formula to promote healthy brain and retina development.

      So, the choice is cost effective to get your DHA > EPA from Calamari rather than the more expensive tuna oil. Both will also have DPA omega-3 fatty acid. I have no information on heavy metals and organic toxins for these two products. However, the GRAS application for the tuna oil discusses how they remove these toxins. Similar description is also on http://www.calamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=42 for calamari oil.

      PIXE

      • Danny says

        PIXE

        Thank you for the information and please excuse my ignorance on the subject of ‘fish oils’. Is TAG the same as TG (natural triglycerides) when being used in the comment section?

        Also, right now I am taking 3000mg (3 soft gels) of Xtendlife Omega3/DHA Fish Oil – 50%EE (Tuna )/50% TG (Hoki) 60 soft gels to a bottle ($17.95), so 1 bottle lasts me 20 days. I would really like to switch to something healthier, no EE, without further damaging my pocketbook. If Standard Process is a good TG/TAG product I wouldn’t mind taking that. I can get that through my chiropractor for an even better price than on Amazon (go figure!). I had no idea about ethyl ester, and thought I was purchasing a totally healthy product. I don’t think of 50% EE as healthy. And one more question… what do you think about Barlean’s Wild and Whole Alaskan Salmon Oil, listed as “Natural Triglyceride Form”?

        Again, thank you for any information you might be able to give me,

        Danelle

    • says

      Danny:
      Here is more references to GRAS fish oils. This is from GRAS Notice GRN 193:

      “Eupoly-EPA and Eupoly-DHA are substantially similar to other fish oils that are already
      regarded as GRAS for addition to foods, including menhaden oil (21 CFR 184.1472),
      small planktivorous pelagic fish body oil (GRAS Notice GRN 102), salmon oil (GRAS
      Notice GRN 146), anchovy-sardine 18/12 TG fish oil (GRAS Notice GRN 138), Marinol
      Omega-3 fish oil derived from anchovy, sardine and mackerel (GRAS Notice GRN 105),
      and tuna oil (GRAS Notice GRN 109).”
      PIXE

  126. JB says

    Hi,
    I’m in the process of taking fish oil from livers, seperated mechanically after being cooked for a short period at 70C, and trying to design an oil for capsules (or bottling) from this. My untouched oil is 100(ish)mg DHA and 60(ish)mg EPA, and I am waiting of vitamin results from the lab unfortunately. From here I am planning to use a solvent based process to partially concentrate some oil and blend it back in to the raw oil to improve the DHA/EPA content (after total removal of the solvent of course!!). By doing so I expect that I will be able to retain all the natural good stuff in the oil (phospholipids, marine DNA, any other good stuff there is) and produce a better product.

    What concentration would be best to bring the DHA/EPA up to?

    Any other advice?

    Thanks. JB
    A university student.

    • Randi Bolstad says

      The only problem on doing this would be the contaminants, that is mainly why all raw oils have to go through a refining process

    • says

      ro:
      My bottle of Res-Q Power of the Sea Omega-3 supplement 1250, lot # 77341 Exp 03 2016 contains 200 softgels for which I paid $41.00 on Amazon in June 2013. Each softgel supplies 390-425 mg EPA and 300-325 mg DHA. It appears that they don’t know what the real concentration is, and they give a range perhaps due to variability from batch-to-batch. This is one of the few products that I see where they give a range. I gather this is being honest since probably those values on other bottle labels are incorrect and really are ranges. Hard to imagine that all those labels on products can have the same identical absolute amount of EPA and DHA per capsule since the concentration of omega-3s varies season-to-season, location-to-location, and species-to-species in fish. A range is probably more realistic and gets around misleading advertising since many fish oil products that are tested do not have the concentrations stated on the bottles. Most of them are lower than what is on the label.
      This product Res-Q 1250 enjoys marketing fiction by stating, “is the purest, most potent form omega-3, EPA and DHA, available.” This product is a low-grade ethyl ester omega-3 market with several saturated fatty acid ethyl ester impurities and is not the “purest, most potent form.” What is disturbing is that they have fallen to the same tactics as many products by listing “Omega-3 Fatty Acids” content instead of listing the total amount of oil concentrate or “fish oil concentrate.” This misleading listing of the amount of EPA and DHA per total omega-3 content is misleading and gives a higher percentage of EPA+DHA than is actually in the product. For Res-Q 1250, each capsule weighs 1.83932 g but the oil weighs 1.29852 g versus the “omega-3 fatty acids” of 750-850 mg. When I calculate the relative amount of EPA and DHA content to the mass of the liquid (oil concentrate) I get 32% EPA and 25% DHA. If you use the “omega-3 fatty acids” as the relative amounts you get 50% EPA and 38% DHA, which is misleading. So, (32+25) gives 57% EPA+DHA content. You have to ask yourself what is the remaining 43%. Well, this is those infamous saturated fatty acid ethyl esters that you find in marine biodiesel.
      This brings me to the point that you really have to read those labels carefully. Also, in error is the total fat content of “1.5 g” when the mass of the oil is only ~1.3 grams, unless they calculate that the capsule is fat which it is not. Most of the omega-3 dietary supplements on the market do not have up-to-date labels. Back in 2004, the FDA allowed Qualified Health Claims for Omega-3 Fatty Acids to say, “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” However, many products on the market do not have this statement on their products and shows that these products are not up to date with labeling.
      Finally, $41.00 is very expensive to pay for a product that is less pure than other products on the market. I gather the high cost goes towards marketing “is the purest, most potent form omega-3, EPA and DHA, available” fiction. It is not how much you take, but how much gets absorbed that counts. You are better off with natural TAG and a lower price, but you will have to take more capsules. For $41.00, I can buy 5 bottles (2,000 softgels) of Kirkland Natural (not the enteric, ethyl ester Kirkland) that will give me 600 grams total of EPA+DHA versus 150 grams (1 bottle of 200 softgels) for the Res-Q 1250.
      PIXE

  127. Chloe says

    Hi,

    I was hoping for an answer to the question about Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil and whether or not it is rancid. It smells and tastes absolutely vile and gives me stomach cramps so I just cant bring myself to take it. I figure our natural instincts should be trusted and if your senses are telling you not to take it then you probably shouldn’t?! Is it supposed to taste like this?

    Also, on their Product Test Data page it shows that a lot of the vitamin D in the FCLO is D2 rather than D3 and the Vitamin A is palmitate rather than retinol. Does this have implications and is it still the brand you most highly recommend Chris?

    • Randi Bolstad says

      Rancidity is oxidation which is known to be bad for you cells . When your body is repeating the oil, it is your body telling you that this is not good for your body. It is a natural reaction. I have test results from a lab on Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil, showing that the oxidation level is probably already at stage 2. Not within pharmacopeia standards nor in the USA or EU in other words. If not refined I can only imagine how the contaminant parameters would be!

  128. Andrea says

    Hi I am allergic to shell fish. Would taking fish oil or cod liver oil be the same as shell fish? I really need a good supplement and just can not eat fish or seafood. It repels me. So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  129. Nick Chotta says

    Hi Chris,
    Recently I listened to an infomercial about the benefit of TG over EE Fish oil. The reason that I take fish oil supplements is for the anti-inflamatory effect for my degenerative disc disease. My doctor, Joseph Maroon conducted a study through the University of Pittsburgh. He says that it doesnt really matter what kind of fish oil you buy, just get the dose up to 3,000 mg/ day. Any thoughts on this?

  130. Lisa Jane says

    PIXE, Thank you for the response. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Swanson product has been “working” for us. I don’t think either of us feel any different for taking it! I had just read and heard over the years how important it was take fish oil. Do you notice a difference when you take it, other than improved cholesterol levels?

    I don’t have to worry about cholesterol levels, myself. Mine are naturally very good. I am taking it more for brain power and inflammation. I read recently in Nutrition Action Healthletter that arthritic people with the highest blood levels of DHA have the least cartilage loss. This is a correlation — not cause and effect — but the study also found that there was no correlation between cartilage health and EPA blood concentrations. (Osteoarthritis Cartilage 20: 382, 2012).

    Thank you very much for pointing out that the Swanson EFAs Super EPA is only about 50% Omega-3’s. Now I think I understand how to read the label. So the Kirkland product you recommend is only 30% Omega-3’s, but according to the article you referenced above, that is the amount expected in a natural fish oil.

    Thanks also for the article information. The link that you provided did not work for me, but I did a Google Scholar search and was able to access the article because my college has access to full text. I didn’t see any comparisons there of absorption/availability as a liquid oil versus in a regular gel cap. Do you know? Are the gel caps just as easily absorbed?

  131. says

    Lisa:
    The good news for you is that if these have been working for you and your husband, then why change. The bad news is that you are taking marine biodiesel fuel. My bottle 189621 MFG 11/11 Swanson EFAs Super EPA 300 mg EPA, 200 mg DHA out of 1,000 mg ecOmega 30/20 is only 50% EPA and DHA and not the 90% you quoted. Did you ever wonder what the other 50% is? Well, it is saturated and monunsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters which is the same flammable chemicals that are in marine biodiesel fuel. To me, this is a low quality omega-3 ethyl ester dietary supplement. Although you may have paid $6.49 for 100 softgels, it is my opinion that you are wasting your money. With ethyl esters, they must be taken with a high fat meal to be effective. To me, a better investment would be the Costco Kirkland “Natural Omega-3 Fish Oil 1000 mg” 400 softgels for $5.99 when on sale otherwise $7.49 After $2.50 OFF. This is USP verified for content and purity. Taking two of these per day gives you 600 mg EPA + DHA which are already in the natural TAG (fat) form that your digestive system knows how to deal with since your birth date.

    A very good article on TAG vs EE digestion and metabolism can be found in the peer reviewed article just published in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Please cite this article as: J.P. Schuchardt, A. Hahn, Bioavailability of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, Prostaglandins Leukotrienes Essent.Fatty Acids (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2013.03.010i with title “Review Bioavailability of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids”.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is what the science shows (analytical chemistry) your Swanson Super EPA to be composed of.

    PIXE

  132. Lisa Jane says

    Hello. I’ve been reading this article and many posts with interest. PIXE, have you done any analysis of any of the Swanson brand products? I have been buying all my supplements from Swanson (swansonvitamins.com) for years as they seem to be a good value. My husband and I have been taking their ecOmega Super EPA gel caps (300 mg EPA, 200 DHA, 50 mg other EFA’s) for years. Since these are over 90% EFA’s, does that mean they are high quality? Are they EE’s?

    Swanson has many other fish oil, krill oil, etc. products. I’m very curious if you have tested any of them. Thanks in advance!

  133. Mary says

    “Most already were taking cholesterol-lowering statins, aspirin and other medicines to lower their chances of heart problems.”

    Doesn’t tell us how well fish oil works for those of us who take it instead of statins.

    • says

      From a sample of one: I’ve been taking 3,000-4,000mg EPA+DHA in EE fish oil for years, and my LDL-HDL ratio is outstanding. Recent imaging shows, at 62, absolutely clean coronary arteries — and my father’s family had terrible heart disease. No statins for me. (I do eat fairly healthily, very little red meat, ingest more than 3 grams oat bran per day, plus olive oil and lots of nuts.)

      • Lisa Jane says

        Hello Altostrata. Did you come to a decision about what fish oil to take? I am in a similar situation in that I need something to deliver 3.000 mg of well-absorbed EPA+DPA daily without breaking the bank. I could research dose and price of the list of rTAG products which PIXE posted here Jan. 2, 2013… but if you’ve already done that I would really appreciate if you would share your conclusions. Thanks!

        • says

          Lisa Jane, I would surely appreciate your comparison of rTAG products!

          For now, I’m taking Natural Factors Omega-3 Factors. Still awaiting PIXE’s data on that.

          I got terrible fish burps from the Jarrow MaxDHA from calamari, which is also underpowered for my purposes, which are similar to yours.

          • says

            Altostrata:
            My bottle of Natural Factors Omega-3 Factors with 400 mg EPA (37.7%) and 200 mg DHA (18.8%) with total of 56.5% total EPA+DHA has the remaining product as fatty acid ethyl esters and is the same as marine biodiesel. I would not take this product for myself. As I mentioned earlier, there are other ethyl esters of higher purity and less expensive. Double check the Health From the Sun Eco-DHA because the bottle I have has 400 mg DHA and 100 mg EPA.

            Also, you should get an omega-3 index determined because knowing this number will mean that you could possible cut back on your intake. The money you use to pay for the test can be offset with less capsules taken. It was shown that taking high concentrations of these omega-3s becomes the same effectiveness after a certain concentration has be taken. Then, all you need is a smaller maintenance dose. After taking high concentrations of OM3, your body will reach a steady state concentrations where taking more does not do you any good because your body is saturated. I will try to find the specific reference to this study. I believe this is one of the reasons why the FDA has a limit of 3,000 mg (3 g) daily dose of OM3’s as dietary supplements. Here is the statement: “In response to a petition (GRASP 6G0316) from the National Fish Meal and Oil Association (NFMOA), FDA issued a final rule on June 5, 1997 (62 FR 30751) (the June 1997 final rule) affirming menhaden oil as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as a direct human food ingredient with limitations on the maximum use levels of menhaden oil in specific food categories. FDA concluded that these limitations are necessary to ensure that daily intakes of EPA and DHA from menhaden oil do not exceed 3.0 grams per person per day (g/p/d). As stated in the June 1997 final rule, the maximum limit of 3.0 g/p/d on the total daily intake of EPA and DHA is a safeguard against the possible adverse effects of these fatty acids on increased bleeding time (the time taken for bleeding from a standardized skin wound to cease), glycemic control in non-insulin dependent diabetics, and increased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.”

            Menhaden oil is TAG fish oil containing 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA. The other impurities in EE fish oil are not GRAS and I believe they are being sold illegally on the market as dietary supplements. There are no GRAS ethyl ester omega-3s dietary supplements in the database (public).

            I will get back to you about rTAG products as I mentioned are more expensive than the traditional fish oil dietary supplements. However, you digestive system knows how to handle these fats since your birth date. My student is in the process of updating my database on all the products with mass, size, cost, TAG vs EE, etc. With more than 675 products, this will take some time since I also have photographed every product.

            Then don’t get me started on the krill oil marketing fiction from scientific fact.

            PIXE

            • says

              Thanks, PIXE. That’s a very good point, maybe I’ve reached omega-3 saturation.

              Several of us in this conversation are looking for that quality-price-strength junction. Most likely this would be a high-quality EE or a low-price rTAG. If you can identify such, we would be very grateful.

              From Amazon:
              http://www.amazon.com/Health-From-The-Sun-60-Count/dp/B003AKXGG2
              Health from the sun® eco dha™ contains molecularly distilled, concentrated calamari oil in fish gelatin capsules. each 2 softgel serving provides 800 mg dha, 200 mg epa and 1,200 iu vitamin d3. the oil is concentrated at a favorable 4:1 ratio of dha and epa, the naturally occurring ratio of dha and epa found naturally in vital organs and breast milk. As an nutritional supplement, the raw material used in eco dha(tm) is harvested and processed using techniques involving little to no by-catch. As with all health from the sun(r) marine oils, eco dha(tm) is independently tested, using strict guidelines, for pcbs, heavy metals and other contaminants.

  134. LongOfTooth says

    Not only do we have to be concerned about what the consumption of rancid fish oil does to our bodies and apparently a high percentage of all fish oil capsules are rancid according to a study done in New Zealand.

    And now we learn that the benefits of fish oil have been greatly overstated.

    Fish oil doesn’t help prevent heart attacks, study shows
    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/09/fish-oil-doesnt-help-prevent-heart-attacks-study-shows/#ixzz2TZ54LrUz

    I could go on but don’t have the time.

    I’ve run out of reasons to take fish oil or krill oil.

    • JB says

      I’m from New Zealand and am trying to produce a quality fish oil at the moment. I think you will find ALL fish oils are rancid, but it is just to varying degrees of rancidity.

      Also, I’m no expert on the subject, I’ve been researching for a while now, but if there is one thing I know it’s not to trust fox news.

      There is also tonnes of other benefits that are seemingly ignored in this article, so I’d hardly say the benefits are over stated.

      But yes, if you are wanting to take these to prevent a heart attack I’d probably make general lifestyle changes instead.

  135. mary says

    Hi Pixe,

    I would also like to know which of the EEs are high-quality.

    Thanks for all of your hard work.

    • says

      Mary and Alto:
      I just returned from Vitamin Shoppe and I purchased their Ultimate Gold Omega-3 Fish Oil ethyl esters supplying 735 mg EPA and 165 mg DHA in a 26.69 mm long by 10.75 mm diameter capsule that weighs 1.92351 g. This a large capsule that is made of a hard crackling softgel. My bottle 06613110 Exp 03/2015 cost me $16.49 for 60 softgels. I would get BEST VALUE: Omega 3 Fish Oil 735 Epa / 165 Dha (1290 MG) (120 Softgels , $0.25/serving ) which for me would be more cost effective with $0.25 per softgel that supplies 900 mg of EPA+DHA as ethyl esters. This product is very pure and I would not consider this as marine biodiesel because it has very very low concentrations (impurities) of saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters. I did not analyze these products for PCBs, heavy metals, or dioxins.

      Another product that I would take is Health from the Sun Omega-3 PFO Pure fish Oil Ultra Potent. My bottle 150806 Exp 11/13 provides 750 mg EPA and 250 mg DHA as ethyl esters in a capsule that weighs 1.76521 g with length 26.17 mm and diameter 10.40 cost me $24.46 for 60 softgels i.e. $0.41 per capsule. This product is very pure and is sourced from Alaskan Pollock, whiting and/or cod and is made in the USA. I believe it is sourced from the same fish offal as Pure Alaska Omega-3 that I purchased and discussed above.

      So, if I needed to lower my serum lipid profile (triglycerides) these are the products that I would be comfortable taking. However, this is my personal choice and it may not fit your needs or medical conditions. Also check with your health-care provider before taking any dietary supplements. Again, the products that I would take were not analyzed for PCBs, dioxins, or heavy metals. Therefore, caution is advised.

      Hope this helps.

      PIXE

  136. says

    PIXE, thanks, as ever, for your patience and knowledge.

    This is very important to me, so I want to bring it to your attention again. In http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide#comment-49406 you list some EE-type fish oil products. Some you say are of “high quality” and some of “low quality.”

    Which EEs on that list are “high quality” (meaning NOT “marine biodiesel”)? Next to rTAGS, this seems like my best option, as I take 3-4 grams EPA+DHA per day.

    Please post the subset of EEs responding to this question.

        • says

          Alto:
          My suggestions are based on chemical analysis and I am not a physician. In addition, I did not determine the concentrations of PCBs, heavy metals, and dioxin in these products. My main interest was in determining which products were mislabeled and contain marine biodiesel fuel. The products that are of high purity in ethyl esters EPA and DHA with very, very low concentrations of saturated and mono-saturated fatty acid ethyl esters (found in cheaper low quality products, same as marine biodiesel) are:
          Minami Cardio-3 which is made in the EU which has stricter rules than those products made in the US and OMAX3. My bottle Minami Cardio-3 Lot 25982C Exp 4/14 has 60 capsules providing 635 mg EPA and 194 mg DHA has 82.9% of these two PUFAs in a capsule that weighs 1.46164 g with diameter 9.65 mm and length 25.06 mm.

          For OMAX-3, my box Lot 1106083 Exp 4/13 has 562.5 mg EPA and 137.5 mg DHA in a softgel that weighs 1.22488 g with length = 22.20 mm and diameter = 9.31. This product is made by boiling natural fish oil with H2SO4 (concentrated sulfuric acid, yes car battery acid) with ethanol to make the ethyl esters. The ethyl esters are then extracted with hexane (Page 11 and 12 of patent). You can read the detail production process for this product in US Patent 7652068. Product also claims in the patent to cure baldness.

          PIXE

    • says

      Emma:
      Costco Chingford
      1 Shadbolt Avenue
      Off Harbet Road
      Chingford
      London

      Get the Kirkland Natural Omega-3 Fish Oil 1000 mg (400 capsules) and it has the USP seal of approval. This is natural “18/12″ fish oil that has the similar quality as MaxEPA from Seven Seas in the UK. MaxEPA was the first prescription natural fish oil drug that has proven efficacy and safety. However, as all dietary supplements also carry the warning “check with your health care provider before use”, this would be a good idea.

      See my web site http://www.fishoildetective.com for more information on fish oils.

      PIXE

  137. Kristen Sandoz says

    Hi! I was wondering if you could tell me the difference between fermented and rancid? I know that rancid oils are very bad for your body and I am definitely effected by rancid oils. I also know one way to tell that they are rancid is to smell them and if they smell like stinky fish then they are bad. I’ve also heard how wonderful Fermented Cod Liver Oil is for you and I have tried taking Green Pature’s FCLO & Butter Oil. I got the chocolate paste kind and it was so terrible that I really have to work at taking it. And there is NO way my kids will take it. It smells and tastes like stinky fish. Why is it not concidered rancid and why does it not effect a person body the same way rancidness does?

    Also, my family currently takes Eskimo PurEFA 1000mg by Integrative Therapeutics. I have trouble with it as it makes me feel sick to my stomache about 10mins after I take it and I can get a headache from it. Is this a good type of Fish Oil to take and why might I have those sympotms? Could there be a binder in it that bothers me?

    Thanks for your time! You article is the best resource I have found yet on this confusing subject.
    Kristen

    • says

      Kristen:
      My bottle of Integrative Therapeutics Tyler Eskimo-3 “Natural Stable Fish Oil” (Lot U1 121211 EXP 4/30/2013) is real fish oil but lower in EPA and DHA compared to cheaper brands. However, these are pearls size. On the low end based on label, there is only 22.6% EPA and DHA as compared to say Kirkland which is 30% but in a larger harder to swallow capsule. The Eskimo-3 is a reputable brand source. The capsule I analyzed contains a trace amount of trans fat and I will look into the possible reasons. This is one of the few products I have analyzed that shows a larger than normal trans fat content. You could try putting them in the freezer and take them frozen to lesson the stomach problems. This has worked for me. Check the label because there are several items like “natural lime flavor” etc.

      At least this product tells who made it “Manufactured by Cardinova International, Uppsala, Sweden” whereas many other dietary supplement products don’t list who made them. They only list “distributed by” or “manufactured for” which leaves the consumer to wonder where and how they were produced.

      PIXE

  138. says

    Note: This study found absorbability of krill oil was the best, but it contains more fat overall. rTAGs were absorbed about 20% better than EEs (thereby indicating to me a price premium of only 20% is justfied). To varying degrees, all raised omega-3 levels in plasma.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168413/

    Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Aug 22;10:145. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-145.
    Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations–a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil.
    Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, Neubronner J, von Schacky C, Hahn A.

    Abstract
    BACKGROUND:
    Bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids (FA) depends on their chemical form. Superior bioavailability has been suggested for phospholipid (PL) bound omega-3 FA in krill oil, but identical doses of different chemical forms have not been compared.
    METHODS:
    In a double-blinded crossover trial, we compared the uptake of three EPA+DHA formulations derived from fish oil (re-esterified triacylglycerides [rTAG], ethyl-esters [EE]) and krill oil (mainly PL). Changes of the FA compositions in plasma PL were used as a proxy for bioavailability. Twelve healthy young men (mean age 31 y) were randomized to 1680 mg EPA+DHA given either as rTAG, EE or krill oil. FA levels in plasma PL were analyzed pre-dose and 2, 4, 6, 8, 24, 48, and 72 h after capsule ingestion. Additionally, the proportion of free EPA and DHA in the applied supplements was analyzed.
    RESULTS:
    The highest incorporation of EPA+DHA into plasma PL was provoked by krill oil (mean AUC0-72 h: 80.03 ± 34.71%*h), followed by fish oil rTAG (mean AUC0-72 h: 59.78 ± 36.75%*h) and EE (mean AUC0-72 h: 47.53 ± 38.42%*h). Due to high standard deviation values, there were no significant differences for DHA and the sum of EPA+DHA levels between the three treatments. However, a trend (p = 0.057) was observed for the differences in EPA bioavailability. Statistical pair-wise group comparison’s revealed a trend (p = 0.086) between rTAG and krill oil. FA analysis of the supplements showed that the krill oil sample contained 22% of the total EPA amount as free EPA and 21% of the total DHA amount as free DHA, while the two fish oil samples did not contain any free FA.
    ….
    Conclusion
    By comparing plasma PL FA compositions in response to almost identical doses of EPA+DHA in different chemical forms (rTAG vs. EE [both derived from fish oil] vs. krill oil), we demonstrated that EPA+DHA were absorbed in the following order: krill oil > rTAG > EE. While this is the first study to report these differences in bioavailability after oral administration, the study is limited by an endpoint that is not representative for tissue composition. In future long-term studies, such a parameter should be addressed (e.g. the omega-3 index), together with parameters representative for the biological effects of EPA+DHA, such as serum TAG levels, blood pressure and others. Addressing these issues seems important in order to make the use of marine n-3 FA more efficient. Finally, the unexpected high content of free EPA and DHA in krill oil, which might have a significant influence on the bioavailability, should be investigated in more depth and taken into consideration in future trials.

    • says

      Angela:
      Your VitalChoice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil is a waste of money in my opinion. The reason being that you are paying $24.00 for 90 capsules with each capsule providing only 80 mg EPA and 73 mg DHA. For the off sale price of Costco Kirkland Natural Omega-3 1000 mg fish oil provides 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per softgel for $9.99 for 400 softgels (I paid $5.99 in January 2013 on sale). The math is easy. Also, you need to be careful of the term “wild salmon” because wild salmon will usually have the DHA concentration greater than the EPA and this is not the case for this product. My bottle (Lot 377069-01, Exp 04/15) of Vitamin World Cold Water Salmon oil (240 rapid release softgels) 1000 with 400 mg “active EPA/DHA” has 90 mg EPA and 110 mg DHA per softgel. I paid $15.99 for 240 but this is still to expensive. What is your reasoning for taking salmon oil?

      Again, a better deal is the Kirkland natural (my bottle Lot 395187-01 EXP 11/16) and it has the USP label that is correct. This product has the same natural fish oil as BJs Berkley & Jensen (my bottle Lot 1055108, EXP JAN 2015) “Natural Extra Strength Fish Oil 1200 mg” with 300 softgels. However, you get less softgels at a higher price. They both claim low Hg and PCBs.

      PIXE

  139. says

    A great round up on the various types and quality of oils.

    I found through a contact who was manufacturing a kind of multi for eye health containing high dose omega 3s, that after much research their company preferred the natural triglyceride form of oil for their product. Aside from increased bio-availability, his research over quite some time had led him to the belief that the ethyl ester forms potentially retain too much residual ethanol through the distillation process.

    This was all several years ago however and perhaps things have changed with fish oil production.

    What I also find fascinating is Dr Leo Galland’s extensive research and clinical experience with fatty acid deficiency. And that fatty acid conversion to prostaglandins can be disturbed via a missing enzyme called delta-6 needed for converting Linolenic acids to n-3s. In this instance, you need EPA and DHA supplementation. Period. However, how many people ever find out they have a chronic fatty acid /prostaglandin deficiency for this reason? I’d hazard a guess, very few.

    A 1990 study discussed the the role PG deficiency plays in a number of chronic diseases. It also hypothesized that the PG deficiency potentially has a much larger role to play in any number of diseases with unknown etiology. Dr Galland’s case studies seem to suggest that, in part, this may well be true.

    Fascinating stuff.

  140. says

    Yes, PIXE, does your testing identify PCBs and other contaminants?

    Up above, in his main article, Chris Kresser says this about natural triglyercide fish oil:
    “And because it isn’t purified, it can have high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins.”

    While, he says, natural triglyercide fish oil is more bioavailable, wouldn’t you agree contamination is a major drawback of these products? Or do you think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Heavy metals include mercury.

    PIXE, could you clarify your statement above: “Some Nordic Naturals, Quell, Pharmax, Jarrow MaxDHA, Bluebonnet, Nutri-Med Logic, and Ascentra NutraSea products to name a scarce few. Expensive production to make “synthetic fish oil.”” Are you saying those brands are the bad kind of synthetic fish oil?

    Please give us a list of your top 20 TAG fish oils, if you can. This would immensely aid shopping.

    • says

      Altostrata:
      With all do respect, the statement “And because it isn’t purified, it can have high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins.” is not correct. See the authority on marine oil processing at: http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/processing/marine/index.htm. He has testified at several GRAS hearings on TAG based fish oils.

      The ethyl ester products are misleading when they say “molecular distilled.” Molecular distilling separates or fractionates compounds based on vapor pressure and molecular weight. If this were true for ethyl ester products then they should only contain a narrow molecular weight of products such as those with carbon numbers greater than 20 i.e. EPA, DHA, and DPA ethyl esters. Based on my analyses, this is not true and they contain high concentrations of C14 (myristic), C16 (palmitic), and C18 (stearic) saturated fatty acid ethyl esters which are the identical compounds in marine biodiesel.

      PIXE

      • says

        PIXE, you MUST take this into consideration: Consumer Reports DID find high levels of PCBs in some natural fish oils.

        I’ve read http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/processing/marine/index.htm and what I see is extensive detail about 2 types of molecular distillation as a purification process, with mention only in passing about treatment with activated carbon as an alternative. There are no other purification processes described.

        Were you referring to activated carbon as a way natural fish oils might be purified of contaminants? Which brands do this?

        • says

          Altostrata:
          See Table 5 and figure 16 in http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/processing/marine/index.htm. There are two major steps in going from catch to capsule for making fish oil that is a co-product of fish meal. The first step is producing “crude fish body oil (CFBO)” by the wet rendering process. This CFBO from industrial fish such as anchovies, mackerel, and menhaden are packaged in drums under nitrogen and sold to the refiners for further processing for the second step. Usually, molecular distillation is done after cleaning up the CFBO.

          I am not sure which brands process the CFBO by which method because this is proprietary information. You can follow some refiners such as Nordic Naturals and Ocean Nutrition (ONC), trade mark product MEG3 (they were purchased by Royal DSM on their web sites. ONC use to have a nice description on how they purify their fish oil but they don’t have the nice link anymore. Pronova (purchased by BASF) makes the API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) for Lovaza (prescription Omega-3 ethyl esters). See their web site
          http://www.pronova.com/process-for-purity/category156.html. The two patents for making the API for Lovaza are http://www.google.com/patents/US5502077 and http://www.google.com/patents/US5656667 describe in detail how these ethyl esters in high concentrations are produced. Remember that this EPA-EE and DHA-EE are the same two APIs that are found in incorrectly labeled “fish oil” dietary supplements but at a much lower concentrations. The remaining higher concentrations are saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) whose efficacy and safety have not been evaluated. These FAEE (saturated and mono-unsaturated) chemicals have been removed from the prescription Lovaza and the NDA (new drug application)-Chemistry for Lovaza and Vascepa impurity removal and testing have been approved by the FDA so that these two drugs are FDA approved prescriptions. Oddly, EPA-EE and DHA-EE were used in mislabeled “fish oil” dietary supplements long before big pharma made them prescriptions.

          PIXE

          • says

            As I read Table 5 and figure 16 in http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/processing/marine/index.htm, particularly figure 16, these show the processing leading through molecular distillation and resulting in the end fish oil product.

            Per figure 16, there are only two variations. One goes from molecular distillation –> deodorization –> packaging and the other goes from molecular distillation –> vacuum distilled –> packaging. (The products “ethyl esters, omega-3 concentrates, etc.” are solely the result of the vacuum distilled process, which I’m guessing is an error in the chart.)

            In figure 16, all the products go through molecular distillation, which, if I understand you correctly, turns all the fish oil products into ethyl esters.

            The author (Bimbo) goes on to say “There are additional processing steps…” and lists 7 processes that I’m guessing are optional and perhaps further remove the fish oil from its “natural” state.

            Nowhere in this paper does Bimbo indicate the relative quality for human consumption of any of the fish oil products. He is merely describing various processing steps.

            Are you saying the products that follow the molecular distillation –> vacuum distilled –> packaging route are better? Having been molecularly distilled, aren’t they ethyl esters? Or are they a special kind of ethyl ester?

            • says

              Alto:
              In the article on the processing of fish oil, it does not have to be ethyl esters to be molecular distilled. Those diagrams and figures are the standard industry procedure for making crude fish body oils for refined fish oil for dietary supplements and drugs. All the fish oil supplements have to be purified before human consumption.

              You can read more details about the entire process of making fish oil and krill oil in a detailed report (147 pages) with references and diagrams. I recommend every one read this document (Pub date 10-19-2011) for an in depth information on all aspects of fish oil. They even discuss rancid oils and all the tests used to test them. All included are definitions of what “fish oils”. “ethyl esters”, and re-esterified fish oils. Here is the link for the 147 page document that you can read.
              http://www.vkm.no/dav/4be9bee090.pdf

              Additional information can be found in the review article: “Production of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrates: A review” by Nuria Rubio-Rodríguez in Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 1–12.
              I hope I did not saturate any eyeballs.

              PIXE

              • says

                PIXE, I bow to your greater knowledge. I have no interest in becoming a fish oil processing expert. I’m a consumer, I just want to be able to find the best omega-3 fish oil supplement that’s cost-effective for me.

                I’m sorry I’m so confused by the information you’ve been posting. Could you please clarify:

                – Does molecular distillation always produce ethyl esters?
                – Are all ethyl esters the bad kind (marine biodiesel)?
                – If not, what’s an easy way a consumer can tell a good EE from a bad EE?
                – Are the EEs you listed in http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide#comment-49406 the better EEs?
                – Are all TAGs the bad kind (marine biodiesel)?
                – If not, what’s an easy way a consumer can tell a good TAG from a bad TAG?
                – Are rTAGs always better than TAGs?
                – Are the rTAGs you listed in http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide#comment-34741 the better TAGs?
                – Is oil from calamari a good source of omega-3s?

                Perhaps you can write this up as a FAQ for your site. I can see it’s a work in progress and there’s not a lot of clear consumer information there.

                • says

                  Alto:
                  Somehow you got all the information I presented all twisted and backwards. Sorry if I confused you or anyone else with information overload. First, molecular distillation is used to separate (fractionate) the different compounds and to remove PCBs, dioxins and furans. It is performed on both ethyl esters and TAG based omega-3s. The consumer can tell if the ethyl ester is mainly biodiesel by the concentrations of EPA and DHA. Usually, if it is more than 70% EPA and DHA, then there are less saturated fatty acid ethyl esters (short chain) that burn.

                  TAGs are natural fat in fish oil and these are not biodiesel (ethyl esters). This is the same type of fat (mother’s milk, corn oil, olive oil, flax seed, ice cream, butter, etc) you have been eating since your birth date but with a much lower concentrations, or none, of EPA and DHA.

                  Yes, the rTAGs I posted in http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide#comment-34741 are the better TAGs but are synthetic fish oil. I am using the term synthetic fish oil to mean that the components (fatty acids, both saturated, mono-unsaturated, and polyunsaturated) of natural fish oil TAGs have been removed from the glycerol backbone. Then, the intermediate compounds (ethyl esters) are distilled to concentrate EPA, DPA, and DHA ethyl esters. These PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters) are reacted with a glycerol backbone in the presence of a special enzyme that will reattached these PUFAs back onto glycerol to make re-esterified TAGs or synthetic fish oil. In nature, the concentrations of having DHA, DHA, or EPA or any combinations of three PUFAs on glycerol is very rare but they do exist in very low, low, low concentrations.

                  The oil from calamari has less EPA and DHA than fish oil. This “calamari oil” is not really the oil extracted from calamari but instead are ethyl esters made from calamari oil and are the same as marine biodiesel fuel, and yes they make nice liquid candles.

                  The list of EEs I posted are both high and low concentrations of the ethyl esters and therefore low and high quality A high quality product that is made in the USA is Pure Alaska Omega-3 EPA DHA that is made from fish offal and is ethyl esters. My bottle Lot 417405 Exp 09/13 contains 80% EPA+DHA per softgel that weighs 0.91320 grams with length 20.22 millimeters and diameter 8.36 mm.. Each capsule has 356 mg EPA and 144 mg DHA. Therefore, 1 per day (500 mg) meets the AHA recommendations (strange coincidence). See their website http://purealaskaomega.com/alaskan-strength for more details. Oddly, Costco sells this.

                  For your rTAG, it is difficult for the ordinary consumer to tell. One potential helpful site is the IFOS site and look under the Ultra-refined Products Category. Then look for the “Product Type” “TG softgel” and this will be rTAG. Notice that Nordic Naturals PrOmega meets their IFOS seal of approval. Product is only 60% EPA+DHA but it is rTAG fish oil.

                  PIXE

                • says

                  What Costco is selling is Pure Alaska Omega™ Salmon Oil, 180 Softgels http://www.costco.com/Pure-Alaska-Omega%E2%84%A2-Salmon-Oil%2c-180-Softgels.product.11745704.html

                  In TWO softgels:
                  “The Total Omega Fatty Acids 600 mg – ** (Supplying DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) 220 mg, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) 180 mg).”

                  Which in my book is 200mg EPA+DHA per softgel. There may be a higher strength Pure Alaska product out there — the “Clinical Strength” Pure Alaska Omega-3 EPA DHA you tested — but Costco is not carrying it.

                • says

                  I contacted the manufacturer of Pure Alaska and they said the better “Clinical Strength” Pure Alaska Omega-3 EPA DHA is sold in the stores. The Costco Web site carries the lesser product.

  141. rocks2stocks says

    PIXE, great to find you here. I read with interest all of your comments on the HF krill oil thread.

    You mentioned that various processing steps can produce unwanted byproducts. Do you test for any of these? And, would you expect to find them in rTag products?

  142. says

    I wrote IFOS about TAG vs ethyl esters and this is what they replied:

    “….Thank you for your email and for your interest in the IFOS Program.

    The research in support of either TG or EE fish oils is controversial. At this time this sort of analysis is not included as part of the IFOS Program.

    Please note that the second link that you sent refers to research conducted in mice, which in the scientific world, is considered inferior to human studies. From what I can see, the original published paper is also not referenced, which would lead me to question the validity of this claim….”

    (I don’t remember what links I sent, possibly they were from this discussion.)

    • says

      Altostrata:
      Another great product in TAG form is the trade mark brand MaxEPA. This was perhaps the first prescription fish oil and it was introduced in the UK in 1992 by Seven Seas from the UK. Its efficacy and safety have been extensively tested and validated with numerous clinical trials. I purchased MasoN natural Omega-3 MaxEPA 1000 mg (Lot# 10349R Exp. 8-14). To show you the quality of their brand, “MaxEPA” is written on every capsule.

      Your comment about the CVS natural fish oil failing the PCBs in consumer reports from Dec 2011 about CVS Natural Fish Oil 1000 mg was above the CA limit for PCBs may have changed. My bottle marked “New”, with lot number 112038 Exp, 4/13 may have changed the formulation.

      PIXE

  143. says

    PIXE, could you clarify your statement above: “Some Nordic Naturals, Quell, Pharmax, Jarrow MaxDHA, Bluebonnet, Nutri-Med Logic, and Ascentra NutraSea products to name a scarce few. Expensive production to make “synthetic fish oil.””

    My concern is as a consumer. I personally do not want to do primary research to find a good, safe fish oil. I appreciate your sharing your research but I’m finding it very hard to understand. Are we to avoid ethyl ester fish oil? Are we to look for TAG? Is some TAG acceptable and other TAG not?

    Please answer the Consumer Report findings of excessive PCBs in fish oil brands you’ve identified as “natural.” Do the dangers of PCBs not outweigh the benefits of “natural” fish oil?

    • says

      Altostrata:
      My comment “Some Nordic Naturals, Quell, Pharmax, Jarrow MaxDHA, Bluebonnet, Nutri-Med Logic, and Ascentra NutraSea products to name a scarce few. Expensive production to make “synthetic fish oil.” is based on my analyses of the composition of certain products under these brands. For example, Nordic Naturals makes several different products from natural fish oil with typical 30% EPA-DHA to higher concentrations of what I call “synthetic fish oil” or as the trade calls them “re-esterified fish oil.” Because they are TAGs, they have most of the saturated fatty acids removed from TAG to make the TAGs have more EPA and DHA which is not the natural concentrations found in fish. Basically, they restructure the TAGs with more EPA and DHA. Few other brands also do this but it is very expensive. The brands I quoted have products that are of this type. These would be the next best type of fish oils, although synthetic and more costly, to take because you can take one re-esterified fish oil capsule instead of two Kirklands to meet the recommendation from AHA of 500 mg/day EPA+DHA.

      For details on re-esterified fish oil, see http://www.nordicnaturals.com/images/supportMaterials/PDFs/DistillingFacts0311low.pdf and
      http://www.nordicnaturals.com/images/supportMaterials/PDFs/rTGbrochure1011.pdf.

      PCBs in these products are low based on the way in which they are processed. I will take natural fish oil over ethyl ester brands without a worry for PCB content. Unfortunately, I can’t determine the PCB content in fish oil. My expertise is in the composition of the dietary supplements i.e. TAG or EE.

      PIXE

  144. says

    Alto:
    That is correct. The fatty acid ethyl ester profile of many of the ethyl ester products on the market have similar profile as marine biodiesel fuel.

    Here are some references to using fish byproducts (offal) to make marine biodiesel fuel. This paper http://www.sfos.uaf.edu/directory/faculty/sathivel/biodiesel.pdf uses methanol instead of ethanol to make marine biodiesel. However, there are other researchers that are using ethanol because it is less toxic than methanol. See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016236111004650 for using ethanol with waste cooking oil to make biodiesel. The composition of this fuel is similar to the ethyl ester incorrectly labeled “fish oils” that many consumers are purchasing under false advertising. See also http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261909005297 “Production of ethyl ester from esterified crude palm oil by microwave with dry washing by bleaching earth.” Natural fish oil dietary supplements do not combust as compared to ethyl ester products. Check your supplement fact’s labels to see if your product is ethyl ester. Many of the Nature Made products are ethyl esters per listing in fine print on the supplement facts label. I am not trying to scare anyone, but be aware of the composition of your omega-3 supplements. I am sure the ethyl esters have benefit, but my concern is that many products on the market labeled as “fish oil” are not fish oil.

    Your Jarrows MaxDHA is real fish oil. In this product, the oil is from calamari. They changed the formulae from 500 mg DHA and 72 mg EPA to the current formulation that is 130 mg EPA. You need to check to be sure you have the correct product from Vitacost. The newer formula (my bottle Lot# 48269K12, Exp, 11/14) is from Calamari with 130 mg EPA and not 72 mg EPA as you report.

    PIXE

    • Emma says

      Hello,
      I have just came across the article from Chris Kresser and this discussion thread, and find it all very useful since I’ve been taking omega-3’s for quite a while now for various health issues including inflammation and fibromyalgia/CFS and keep looking for the “right” product.
      I have been using the Puritan’s Pride products (e.g., Puritan’s Pride
      Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil 1360 mg/60 Softgels / Item #016105) having read some time ago that it’s a reputable brand.
      I have recently switched to a high DHA product – Ascenta NutraSea High DHA Omega-3 1300mg
      1300 mg / 6.8 oz Liquid / Item #071343) purchased from the same Puritan’s Pride website. This is the first time I am using the liquid form of the oil and now know that I would rather take my omega-3 in a gel/capsule form.
      I would like to get some advice on
      a) whether the products I’ve been taking are on the “good” list,
      and b) your suggestions wrt alternative better products for my situation.

      Thanks in advance for your help!

      Emma

      • says

        Hi Emma:
        Puritan’s Pride is a good brand because they manufacture their own products as evidenced from the bottle labels. Look on the back of their labels on the supplement facts and you will see that triple strength, double strength, and premium mini gels are all “ethyl esters”. Their product “Extra Strength” is real fish oil and this is the one I would take. If you are having a problem with belching, put the capsules in the freezer and take them frozen. This has worked for me. For the liquids, I would take this form only if I had a problem swallowing the capsules. The liquid is not stable and becomes rancid after opening the bottle within 60 days or depending on the manufacturer’s “use by” date could be longer or shorter.

        Looking at the label on your Ascenta NutraSea High DHA Omega-3 1300mg, 400 mg EPA, 800 mg DHA, I would speculate that it is the ethyl ester form which is even more unstable than liquid TAG form.

        The capsules are suppose to be sealed under “nitrogen cover” and contain tocopherols as an antioxidant. Again, read the fine print of your supplement facts labels. I have nothing against taking ethyl esters, my complaint is that products labeled as “fish oil” that contain ethyl esters are wrong and misleading. These mislabeled products violate the current FDA cGMP rules on labeling.

        The efficacy and safety of taking high purity EPA and DHA ethyl esters (Lovaza and Vascepa) have been established in clinical trials and are approved FDA prescription drugs.

        However, the efficacy and safety of taking high concentrations of saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters (marine biodiesel fuel) has not been evaluated or established. This is what you are getting in those 30-60% EPA and DHA incorrectly labeled “fish oil” brands.

        PIXE

        • says

          PIXE, this gets more and more confusing. Some ethyl esters are okay for getting your omega-3s but some are not?

          I have no doubt you can determine the difference in your lab but I can’t see any way an ordinary consumer can tell one from the other.

          It’s interesting that you have confidence in Puritan’s Pride. I’ve always been suspicious of their very low pricing; I’ve assumed they relabel supplements manufactured in China.

          I was unable to find an omega-3 product called “Extra Strength” on the Puritan’s Pride Web site. The closest is Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil 1360 mg http://www.puritan.com/fish-oils-056/triple-strength-omega-3-fish-oil-1360-mg-016105 , which claims “Contains 850 mg of active EPA/DHA per softgel” and says it’s “Ester-Omega Fish Oil” “as Ethyl Esters.”

          This product is apparently one of the ethyl ester imitation fish oils. Was this the one you tested or was it another one?

          • says

            Altostrata:
            The Puritan’s Pride item number #035714. It is perhaps easy to tell the difference. First, read the supplement facts label. If not, get yourself some inexpensive but real fish oil such as Puritan’s Pride Extra Strength or Kirkland Natural Fish Oil 1000 mg, 400 capsules. Just open the capsule and let it spread on any smooth service. You will notice that it is viscous. Now compare with a product you know that is ethyl ester, say Kirkland Enteric Coated Omega-3 Fish Oil 1200 mg. one per day and do the same thing. You will notice that ethyl esters will spread more than natural fish oil.
            PIXE

            • says

              That would be http://www.puritan.com/fish-oils-056/omega-3-fish-oil-1500-mg-035714
              Puritan’s Pride
              Omega-3 Fish Oil 1500 mg
              1500 mg / 60 Softgels / Item #035714
              450 mg EPA + DHA per softgel

              I’m still finding it hard to believe the cheapo brands like Puritan’s Pride, Nature Made, CVS, and Sundown contain better fish oil than the more expensive brands. (It looks to me like Nature Made and Sundown Naturals come from the same source — the supplement facts labels are identical.)

              I had written Natural Factors regarding their RxOmega-3 Factors. This is their response:

              “….Natural Factors RxOmega-3 Factors are molecularly distilled and are in the Ethyl Ester form. We use anchovy, sardine, and or mackerel wild caught fish.

              Below is from Dr. Michael Murray regarding fish oils.

              Triglyceride vs. Ethyl Ester
              A triglyceride consists of a glycerol “backbone” with three 3 fatty acids attached. Fish oils naturally contain triglycerides containing DHA, EPA, and a saturated fat. During the production of all concentrated fish oils through molecular distillation, the fatty acids are liberated into free ethyl ester forms. Some fish oil products are made by synthesizing the free fatty acids back to a triglyceride form while others, including the pharmaceutical forms, maintain the purified oil in the ethyl ester (EE) form. Some companies selling fish oils claim that the triglyceride form is more natural, has better stability, and is better absorbed than the EE form. None of these claims is true. The recombined triglycerides are not necessarily in their natural form, they are not more stable, and they certainly are not better utilized by the body. My personal opinion is that the EE form actually possesses some advantages:

              In order for the body to utilize the DHA or EPA in a triglyceride form they must be liberated from the glycerol backbone. The EE form provides an easier to assimilate form for many and is significantly less likely to cause burping up of a fishy smell. Think of the EE form as a pre-digested form of fish oil.

              While early absorption studies showed an advantage to the triglyceride form, it turns out the studies were not taking into account the fact that the EE form is processed in a more efficient manner. Very detailed absorption studies have shown that the EE form is actually more bioavailable in that it is more easily processed by the cells that line the intestines and is also more easily incorporated into cell membranes.

              Though the triglyceride form is very effective, the EE form may produce even better clinical results. For example, studies looking at the effects of fish oils on reducing factors that promote dangerous blood clots as well in the important effect of lowering triglycerides show some greater benefits with the EE form. In one study, while the EE and triglyceride forms at equal concentrations showed a similar effect on raising blood levels, the EE form showed significant advantages in lowering triglycerides and reducing platelet aggregation than the triglyceride form.

              The EE form is backed by considerably more in depth scientific research and it is the form preferred when higher dosages of EPA and DHA are required.

              Our own detailed quality control analysis at Natural Factors has shown exceptional stability in soft gelatin capsules and studies have shown feeding humans either pure DHA or EPA EE at a dosage of 4 grams does not increase lipid peroxides or cause oxidative damage.

              The bottom line
              While there are certain advantages to the EE form, the truth is that both the EE form and the triglyceride form produce great benefit to human health because they both provide EPA and DHA. That is the critical effect that both forms provide. The reasons why these fatty substances are so important revolve around their role in cellular membranes. A diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, results in altered cell membranes. Without a healthy membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water, vital nutrients, and electrolytes. They also lose their ability to communicate with other cells and be controlled by regulating hormones. They simply do not function properly. Cell membrane dysfunction is a critical factor in the development of virtually every chronic disease, especially cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Not surprisingly, fish oil supplementation whether as the EE or triglyceride form have shown tremendous beneficial or protective effects against all of these diseases. Again, the majority of this clinical research has been conducted with the EE form.

              Practical recommendations
              How much fish oil should you take? According to the latest scientific evidence, a daily dosage of 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) is sufficient to produce significant protection against heart disease and strokes. When there is a therapeutic indication for EPA and DHA such as in elevated triglycerides, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and asthma the daily dosage is usually 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA. Keep in mind that these dosage recommendations are based upon the level of EPA and DHA versus the amount of fish oil in the capsules or liquid, so you must read the label carefully to make sure you are getting the correct amount….”

              This discussion reminds me of the questions around “extra virgin” olive oil from Italy. Apparently there has been a tradition for hundreds of years among Italian oil merchants to bottle any old oil and sell it as “extra virgin.” You never know what you’re getting in a bottle of Italian olive oil; it could be third-press, it could be soybean oil, it could be a cheap blend (I buy Californian olive oil myself).

              • says

                http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20111206/some-fish-oil-supplements-fishy-on-quality
                Some Fish Oil Supplements Fishy on Quality
                Consumer Reports: Some Popular Fish Oil Supplements May Contain PCBs

                “Dec. 7, 2011….Researchers say the total PCB amounts in four brands (CVS Natural, GNC Triple Organic, Nature’s Bounty Odorless, and Sundown Naturals) were below the USP safe limit but within the range that would require a warning label under California’s Proposition 65, 90 parts per billion.
                ….
                Two of the three samples of Kirkland Signature Enteric 1200 fish oil supplements had an enteric coating (designed to prevent a fishy aftertaste) that did not disintegrate properly. The coating may break up in the stomach rather than in the small intestine, as desired for proper absorption by the body.

                Nine brands passed all quality measures tested, including:

                Spring Valley Omega-3
                Finest Natural
                Walgreens Omega-3 Concentrate
                Barlean’s Organic Oils EPA-DHA
                Nature Made 1,200 MG
                The Vitamin Shoppe Meg-3 EPA-DHA
                Carlson Super Omega-3 Gems
                Norwegian Gold Ultimate Critical Omega
                Nature’s Way Fisol

                One product, Nordic Naturals, could not be properly evaluated because it contained lemon oil, and there are no industry-standard tests that Consumer Reports could find that could test for spoilage in products with lemon oil.

                Nordic Naturals did meet every other quality measure in the study, though…..”

              • PIXE says

                Altostrata:
                Most of the information posted by Dr Murray is incorrect. For example, the statement “During the production of all concentrated fish oils through molecular distillation, the fatty acids are liberated into free ethyl ester forms. ” is totally wrong. Fish are caught, cooked, squeezed, and the liquid centrifuged to separate the “crude fish body oils (CFBO)” that are sold as a commodity to fish oil refiners. They will process the oil in one of three ways. 1. Refine further to leave as “natural fish oil” and will most likely be 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per 1000 mg of oil or what is known as “18/12 TAG Oil.” 2. Boil the CFBO with H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) with ethanol to make the ethyl esters of the fatty acids from natural fat (triacyl-sn-glycerols, i.e. TAG) molecules in fish, molecular distill to concentrate mainly EPA-EE and DHA-EE. This is one method how the product OMAX3 is made per US patent. 3. Take the DHA and EPA ethyl esters react with an enzyme in the presence of glycerol to make structured TAGs with high concentrations of EPA and DHA mainly in the TAG form.

                Some Nordic Naturals, Quell, Pharmax, Jarrow MaxDHA, Bluebonnet, Nutri-Med Logic, and Ascentra NutraSea products to name a scarce few. Expensive production to make “synthetic fish oil.”

                This is also false: “The EE form provides an easier to assimilate form for many and is significantly less likely to cause burping up of a fishy smell. Think of the EE form as a pre-digested form of fish oil.” Ethyl esters are a poor substrate for pancreatic lipases and EE is a lipid and is not water soluble. It is not “pre-digested form of fish oil” because it is toxic in the body and kills liver cells. The only way fatty acid ethyl esters exist in the body is with alcohol intoxication. They use the same FAEEs found in ethyl ester fish oils to determine if you have been drinking alcohol. It is also used as marker to determine if pregnant women have been drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

                The other statement is correct about many clinical trials have been with ethyl esters but these are with high purity 95% EPA and DHA ethyl esters and not the low quality ethyl esters mislabeled as “fish oil” sold on the market today that many consumers paid for thinking they were getting “fish oil”. Taking high concentrations of saturated fatty acid ethyl esters typically found in mainly omega-3s on the market has not been proven to be safe and has not been studied.

                For excellent tutorial on how your body processes fat (TAG) see: http://www.wiley.com/college/grosvenor/0470197587/animations/Animation_Lipid_Digestion_and_Absorption/Energy/media/content/dig/anima/dig5a/frameset.htm.

                More information on ethyl ester bioavailability can be found at: http://www.ergo-log.com/ethylesteromega3.html and follow the link to the article for more detailed information.
                PIXE

            • Emma says

              PIXE,
              I noticed that the label for the Puritan’s Pride item number #035714 (Extra Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil 1500 mg) says that it’s “Ester Omega™ Fish Oil” and the Mason natural Omega-3 MaxEPA fish oil lists the following “Other Ingredients: Marine lipid concentrate, Gelatin, Glycerin, Purified Water, Ph Eur, Propylene Glycol Ph Eur, Ethanol B.P., Hydroxypropylmethyl Cellulose 15cp Ph Eur, Titanium Dioxide Ph Eur.”
              So, both brands look like EE….
              Emma

              • says

                Emma:
                Here is my take on Doctor’s best that is ethyl ester. Now, some manufacturers are using calamari but they end up converting it to the ethyl ester form and still call it calamari oil. However, when you look at the labels on some products using Calamarine, the chemical form is not stated. For example, Doctor’s BEST DHA500 from Calamari uses Calamarine 50/500 ethyl ester in their product but this is not listed on the bottle (Lot SB004151 Jul 2015). Appliednutrition Nordic Calamari uses EE form (not stated on bottle, Lot SB002374, Exp 10/2012) of Calamarine 140/360 when they could of used the TAG Calamarine 140/360. On the other hand, Dr. Sinatra’s Omega-3 Calamarine (SKU CAL02G11000) uses the ethyl ester derivatives of EPA and DHA and is listed on the bottle. http://www.drsinatra.com/calamarine/omega-3-calamarine. However, my bottle, ordered from http://www.drsinatra.com, does not have a lot number nor an expiration date. For details on calamari derived omega-3s, visit http://www.calamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=41. While there, check out their formulas used in their omega-3s raw materials used in dietary supplements. http://www.pharmamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=22 You can see that both ethyl esters and TG (Triacyl-sn-glycerol) forms are produced by Pharma Marine.

                PIXE

        • Kristine says

          NutraSea does not manufacture ethyl ester oils. AND they are the only company that provides a third party testing report for every batch of product they make. My favourite! I like to know what I’m taking.

    • says

      My latest Jarrow MaxDHA has 130mg EPA.

      Thanks very much for this information, PIXE. I am sure the quality of fish oil varies widely and some may be completely counterfeit. Still, I find it hard to believe the inclusion of the word “natural” on any fish oil label means much.

      Given there is no other list of good fish oils elsewhere (please publish your database!!!!), it seems IFOS http://www.ifosprogram.com/industry-home might be the best source for consumer information.

      • says

        Emma:
        I visited the website for “Maximum Essential Omega-3″ and it is very expensive and the claim is natural Omega-3 in Triacylglycerol form. $17.90 for 30 cap is very expensive. I just ordered this product and will let you know if it is synthetic fish oil (re-esterified). As I said previously, take the less expensive Kirkland Natural Omega-3, 1000 mg and you get 400 capsules for $7.99 or $5.99 when on sale at Costco. This product also has DPA but it is opposite in the DHA/EPA ratio. In addition, this product from Kirkland also has the USP seal of approval which claims that the contents are correct. Take two of these per day and you get more than the American Heart Association’s recommended daily dose of 500 mg/day.

        From USP: “The USP Dietary Ingredient Mark & What It Means
        Manufacturers of dietary ingredients that pass USP Verification can display the USP Verified Ingredient Mark on containers of verified products, as well as on an accompanying Certificate of Analysis. When the manufacturers of dietary supplement finished products see this distinctive mark on the containers of ingredients they buy, they can feel confident that
        The ingredients are consistent in quality from batch to batch.
        The ingredients meet label or certificate of analysis claims for identity, strength, purity, and quality.
        The ingredients are prepared in accordance with accepted manufacturing practices.
        The ingredients meet requirements for acceptable limits of contamination.”

        However, be careful of this label because not all USP labeled products are correct and don’t meet the USP qualifications even though they have the seal. For example, the Krikland Enteric Coated Omega-3 (ethyl esters) and Sam’s Club Simply Right triple strength all natural fish oil (ethyl esters) should not have the USP label because according to USPs definition of “fish oil” these products are not fish oil (TAG).
        PIXE

        • Emma says

          PIXE,
          What do you think of the “Best DHA 500 from Calamari” supplement from Doctor’s Best ?
          Thanks.

          • says

            Emma:
            This product is ethyl ester and should not be taken if you are pregnant or nursing. See my earlier post about the consumer misleading information on calamari based fish oil. Also, see my site http://www.fishoildetective.com where I discuss this product in detail. As I said, ethyl esters in high concentrations such as Lovaza (465 mg EPA-EE, 375 mg DHA-EE) or 93% EPA+DHA and Vascepa (90% EPA-EE) are prescription drugs and used to treat specific health problems. VASCEPA has this warning label “Studies with omega-3-acid ethyl esters have demonstrated excretion in human milk. The effect of this excretion is unknown; caution should be exercised when VASCEPA is
            administered to a nursing mother.” lLovaza warning label: “There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. It is unknown whether LOVAZA can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproductive capacity. LOVAZA should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.”

            These two drugs have the same identical active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) as all those mislabeled “fish oil” products. However, these fish oil supplements have lower concentrations and the remaining concentrations of the ethyl esters are saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acid ethyl esters. The issue is that these other fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) have not been approved or studied for use as impurities in omega-3 dietary supplements. Fish oil, TAG based, have gone through the FDA process of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) process and are approved for human consumption. No ethyl ester based “fish oil” (contains high concentrations of saturated, mono-unsaturated fatty acids ethyl esters, with DHA-EE and EPA-EE) has GRAS status. See http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnNavigation.cfm?rpt=grasListing&displayAll=true for the entire list of substances approved for food use (dietary supplements). Notice that krill oil, tuna oil, menhaden oil, and other fish species are on the list, all in TAG (natural fish fat).

            Your first meal on your birth date was either mother’s milk (fat, TAG) or baby formula (fat, TAG). From cradle to grave, your digestive system has evolved to digest fat (TAG) and not ethyl esters. That is why there is a difference in absorption between the two chemical forms and all the prescription EPA-EE and DHA-EE products state “take with a meal”. This is not the case with TAG based fish oil. It is not how much you take, it is how much gets absorbed that matters. Why waste your money on marine biodiesel that is a fuel and the body can’t fully digest. Instead, invest in a good quality TAG fish oil that you were born with the correct pancreatic enzymes (lipase) that can more than 98% digest and absorb this type fish fat (TAG).

            PIXE

            • Altostrata says

              PIXE, please clarify your reference to “consumer misleading information on calamari based fish oil.” From your earlier comments, it seems you approve of calamari as a source. Do you not approve of it?

              • says

                Alto:
                Here is my comment on misleading information. Now, some manufacturers are using calamari but they end up converting it to the ethyl ester form and still call it calamari oil. However, when you look at the labels on some products using Calamarine, the chemical form is not stated. For example, Doctor’s BEST DHA500 from Calamari uses Calamarine 50/500 ethyl ester in their product but this is not listed on the bottle (Lot SB004151 Jul 2015). Appliednutrition Nordic Calamari uses EE form (not stated on bottle, Lot SB002374, Exp 10/2012) of Calamarine 140/360 when they could of used the TAG Calamarine 140/360. On the other hand, Dr. Sinatra’s Omega-3 Calamarine (SKU CAL02G11000) uses the ethyl ester derivatives of EPA and DHA and is listed on the bottle. http://www.drsinatra.com/calamarine/omega-3-calamarine. However, my bottle, ordered from http://www.drsinatra.com, does not have a lot number nor an expiration date. For details on calamari derived omega-3s, visit http://www.calamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=41. While there, check out their formulas used in their omega-3s raw materials used in dietary supplements. http://www.pharmamarine.com/default.aspx?menu=22 You can see that both ethyl esters and TG (Triacyl-sn-glycerol) forms are produced by Pharma Marine.

                These calamari oil products have the “Friend of the Sea” seal which implies that the source is sustainable.

                PIXE

                • says

                  Thanks, PIXE. That clarifies the calamari source. My Jarrow MaxDHA says it’s from calamari, it contains 250mg DHA and 65mg EPA PER CAPSULE, which would make it TAG, correct? (It also is certified as Friend of the Sea.)

      • says

        Altostrata:
        Here is a partial list of only ethyl ester forms. I use EE to mean ethyl esters and I have also included the amount of EPA and DHA in mg per capsule and not per serving, which is misleading.
        OM3= omega-3, FO = fish oil

        Ethyl Ester
        Advanta Supplements Omega-3 FO 400 EPA 300 DHA
        All Natural Greenway OM3 300 total EPA DHA EE
        Arctic Oils Omega Pure 780 450 EPA 330 DHA EE
        ArcticOils OmegaPure EPA 660 EPA 30 DHA EE
        Barleans ultra DHA triple potency 50 EPA 265 DHA EE
        Brain Research Labs Omega-3 DHA 300 EPA 200 DHA
        CareOne Extra strenght FO 260 EPA 175 DHA
        Carlson Super Omega 3 Gems EE r2
        CVS Half the size FO 300 mg Total Only
        Doctors A-Z mega OM3 300 EPA 200 DHA EE
        Dr Sears Zone OmegaRx 400 EPA 200 DHA EE R2
        Finest triple strength 647 EPA 253 DHA EE
        Fundamental Health wild caught FO 360 EPA 240 EPA EE
        Jarrows Formulae balance 400 EPA 200 DHA EE
        Kirkland signature omega-3 FO 410 EPA 274 DHA EE r3
        Mason Natural OM3 300 Total EPA DHA EE
        Meatgenics High DHA 600 DHA 60 EPA EE Calamri extract
        Metagenics EPA-DHA 6 to 1 500 EPA 80 DHA EE
        Minami nutrition cardio-3 FO supercrital 635 EPA 194 DHA EE
        Minami nutrition MorDHA FO supercrital 465 DHA 63 EPA EE
        Nature Made New Ultra Omega-3 244 EPA 89 DHA EE R2
        Nature’s Blend Omega 3 1760 mg Fish Oil EE r2
        Nature’s bounty triple strength 950 total OM3 EE
        Nordic Calamari Higher Potency Omega-3 360 DHA 140 EPA EE R2
        Nourishlife speak FO 362 EPA 137 DHA EE
        Now Super Omega EPA 360 EPA 240 DHA EE
        NutriGold Omega-3 Gold 647 EPA 253 DHA
        O3mega extra strength 400 EPA 200 DHA EE R2
        Omega DHA 900 450 DHA 112 EPA EE R2
        Omega Smart Ultimate FO 780 EPA 120 DHA EE
        Omegavia FO EE 700 EPA 100 DHA
        OmegaWorks super OM3 300 EPA 200 DHA EE
        OmegaWorks Ultra OM3 Triple strength 625 EPA 245 DHA
        Pharmassure FO 240 EPA 200 DHA EE R2
        Rite Aid Extra Strength FO 240 EPA 200 DHA EE R2
        Rite Aid triple strength FO 647 EPA 253 DHA
        Sealogix OM3 400 EPA 200 DHA gel
        Source Naturals Ultra Potency 450 EPA 340 DHA EE R2
        Twinlab Mega twin EPA FO 550 EPA 215 DHA EE R2
        Twinlab Omega-3 270 EPA 180 DHA EE R2
        Vitamin Research Ethyl EPA bot 2 300 EPA 200 DHA lot 38377 EE
        Vitamin Research Products Ethyl EPA 300 EPA 200 DHA EE
        Vitamin World triple strength 1360mg OM3 625 EPA 244 DHA EE
        Windmill Natural Omega III EPA + DHA EE

        Again, a good buy is the Kirkland Signature™ Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate 1000 mg, 400 Softgels for $9.99. However, get it when it is on sale for $5.99. Just to warn you that the capsules are large and maybe a choking hazard. Taking two of these gives you more than the AHA recommended dose of 500 mg EPA+DHA per day.

        I still don’t understand why anyone would want to take marine biodiesel fuel for your dietary supplement when you can purchase real “fish oil”, natural TAG for less money. Your only negative is that you have to take more than one capsule and they are larger than the marine biodiesel fuel capsules.

        Here is a quote from “Fatty acid ethyl esters Final report for Lot 3a of the Bioscopes project”
        Authors:Carlo Hamelinck (Ecofys) – Lot 3a coordinator”

        “However, with the prospects that the
        production of biodiesel from oil crops could slow down at some moment and that the production of
        bioethanol becomes more and more attractive, it is valuable to know the opportunities for using
        ethanol in the diesel sector. One option is to use ethanol in the production of biodiesel or so-called
        Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester (FAEE), thereby replacing the fossil component methanol.”

        These FAEEs are the same compounds that are in your ethyl ester mislabeled “fish oil” dietary supplements. I am trying to get the FTC and FDA to require these dietary supplements to have the correct labeling so that you and I, the concerned consumers, know exactly what we are spending our hard earned money on and not some bait-and-switch inferior products.

        PIXE

        • says

          PIXE, first and foremost I want to thank you for doing your best to share your knowledge here.

          That said, I’m finding the way you answer questions to be very confusing, to the point that I don’t know what you’re recommending. Please read my questions carefully and and answer them clearly.

          I do NOT care to take marine biodiesel for my fish oil supplement. Please be aware I’m taking 3,000-4,000mg EPA + DHA per day for a neurological condition, I’ve been taking mostly concentrated ethyl esters for years, I’ve had only benefit with no adverse effects from it, and my good HDL cholesterol is very high.

          I had asked for a list of your top 20 TAG fish oils. Are the above TAG or EE?

          Are you recommending the EE types you’ve listed above?

          If it is the good kind of EE (not marine biodiesel), how is it distinguished from the bad kind?

          What does R2 mean?

          • says

            Alto:
            The list I posted is for only EE types of omega-3s. I am not recommending any, just posting information on these products because many are labeled “fish oil” but are really marine biodiesel fuel. R2 means “run 2″. I will post a list of TAG fish oil products shortly.

            PIXE

            • says

              Thank you, PIXE.

              I guess I want to avoid taking 3 grams a day of “marine biodiesel,” so your help is greatly appreciated. (But — if you think of it, a biodiesel vehicle will run on soybean oil, would soybean oil be considered “plant biodiesel:?)

              You may have guessed I’m going to ask for rTAGs, too. This would be IFOS Ultra type http://www.ifosprogram.com/consumer-reports.aspx , correct?: “Containing greater than or equal to 60% concentration of EPA and DHA per gram of fish oil.”

              If you have your results in an Excel spreadsheet, you might just want to make it available on your site in .csv format to download.

        • says

          PIXE, which of these EE types does NOT meet your definition of “marine biodiesel”???

          That’s the important information for me — which EE products are preferable.

  145. Kristen S says

    Hi Chris,

    This is such an impressive article & clearly neededait was written 3 years ago. I learned the hard way that rancid fish oil is very bad for your body & I can not tell you the number if people I have talked to about the importance of their fish oil not being rancid. Most look at me like I’m crazy. Now I will direct them to this article.
    My question for you is about fclo. I have tried taking it because I’m aware of its incredible benifits but it tastes and smells so horrible that I think it has to be rancid. Is it not? What exactly is the difference between fermented & rancid?

    • says

      Chris:
      Just want to inform the readers that many “fish oil” products on the market are incorrectly labeled as fish oil. In fact, many of the products are ethyl ester derivatives of the omega-3s. What is disturbing is that these products are really marine biodiesel and are flammable. Check the back of your labels and if is says as ethyl esters, it is flammable. Several companies are exploring using fish offal (fish byproducts) esterified using ethanol derived from corn to produce a renewable biofuel known as marine biodiesel. The composition of the fuel is very similar to what is being sold on the market that is incorrectly labeled as “fish oil”. These products are misbranded. See http://www.fishoildetective.com and the page burning fish oil for more information. So, many of you purchased what you thought was “fish oil” but actually got gelatin capsules filled with the flammable liquid marine biodiesel fuel. This liquid is probably the only chemical that is used as both as a dietary supplement and a fuel. Please use caution if you attempt to see if your misbranded “fish oil” burns. I am trying to contact the Federal Trade Commission to complain about false advertising.

      Look for fish oil that sometimes will say “natural” but this is not 100% sure. Products that are natural fish oil are Berkley&Jensen Natural Extra Strength Fish Oil (1200 mg), Kirkland Natural Omega-3 Fish Oil, Nature Made Fish Oil 1000 mg 300 mg Omega-3, CVS Natural Fish Oil 1000 mg, Nordic Natural products, and Sundown Naturals Fish Oil 1200 mg. Check your labels. The Kirkland Enteric Coated Omega-3 Fish Oil 1200 mg, one per day is not “fish oil” and is the ethyl ester derivatives per fine print on the supplement facts label. Strangely, this product carries the USP seal of approval which is incorrect. USP defines what the definition of fish oil is in their fish oil monograph and this Kirkland product does not meet the definition and you can’t really trust the USP seal.
      PIXE

      • says

        Now I’m really confused, PIXE. Are you saying fish oil containing ethyl esters is marine biodiesel fuel and should be rejected? (All oils are flammable.)

        Would appreciate a response about the calamari oil in Jarrows Max DHA. (Also note: The content of DHA 500mg and EPA 72mg is in a “serving” of TWO capsules, which makes it weak fish oil in my book.)

  146. rose says

    Jarrows Max DHA has a soft gel made from clamari
    Total Calamari Oil (source Omega-3)1200mg
    DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) 500mg
    EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) 72mg

    What do you think about this product. iHerb’s price $23.37
    I’m confused with all the choices.

  147. Hannah says

    Hi Chris

    I have just bought Jarrow Max DHA – it says in your post that it is made with anchovies and sardines, both of which are naturally low in contaminants – but it is actually made from Calamari so I am confused as I haven’t heard of Calamari being a good source.

    Please can you let me know what you think about this?
    Many thanks

  148. says

    I’ve been taking fish oil for about 8 years at dosages of 1,000mg to 3,600mg EPA+DHA per day. Most of that time, it’s been either Trader Joe’s or Natural Factors RxOmega-3 Factors. My criteria have been molecular distillation for purity and at least 600mg EPA+DHA per capsule with a cost somewhere around $.10 per capsule. I didn’t know about the synthetic triglyceride issues.

    I’ve been taking these relatively high dosages to help relieve the symptoms of Paxil withdrawal syndrome. When I started taking fish oil, I could fairly immediately feel a relaxing effect. Many people find it relieves brain zaps, a very common (and not at all benign) withdrawal symptom, and other parasthesias.

    Along the way, I’ve tried pure DHA (Pharmax and Metagenics) and didn’t find it any more effective than the EPA+DHA capsules.

    Years later, at age 62, I don’t actually feel the fish oil any more, but my good cholesterol (HDL) to bad cholesterol (LDL) ratio is outstanding and my blood sugar went down. (I also minimize vegetable oil intake and eat lots of nuts.)

    My understanding is that EPA and DHA can convert to each other http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/6/S1467.long

    As for EPA vs DHA, my understanding is that

    • says

      Alto:
      Your Trader Joe’s molecular distilled Omega-3 Fatty Acids dietary supplement is 60% EPA and DHA as the ethyl esters. My lot 3372 D2 Exp date of 02/2015. You need to be careful of these EE brands because they don’t absorb as well as triacyl-sn-glycerol (TAG) formerly referred to as triglyceride. Your Trader Joe’s has the same two active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) as the prescription pro-drugs Lovaza and Vascepa. Vascepa only has EPA-Ethyl ester. They must be take with a fatty meal in order for them to be absorbed. This is because the ethyl esters are poor substrates for pancreatic lipases that cut off fatty acyls from positions 1 and 3 from TAG. These lipases operate at the oil-water interface of the emulsions formed in the gut lumen. Also, although small, the metabolite of these EE is ethanol (ethyl alcohol). See the warning labels for Lorvaza and Vascepa.

      You are better off taking the Pharmax Ultra EPA/DHA 395 mg EPA and 265 mg DHA per my bottle Lot BN 25435 Exp date 08/2013. The product is made by Seroyal and it is a re-esterified TAG to get you more EPA and DHA (66%) per TAG molecule than natural fish oil which is about 30% EPA=DHA which are the so called “18/12 TAG oils.” The Pharmax has more EPA/DHA per capsule than the Trader Joe’s in addition to being more bioavalilable. See my web site http://www.fishoildetective.com

      PIXE

          • Stephanie says

            Hi PIXE, Do you know anything about Prograde’s EFA Icon Krill oil? Just received and not sure if this was a good choice. Thanks!

        • says

          Doug:
          I am an analytical chemist only reporting scientific fact rather than marketing fiction.
          Thanks for your constructive criticism of my web site http://www.fishoildetective.com. I read your link to OmegaVia’s web site, and that information is not entirely correct. The digestion and metabolism of chemical compounds are more complex than what was stated. First, your first meal on your birth date was fat and our digestive system has taken thousands of years to develop and become efficient. As a result, the digestive mechanism protects the transport of substances to the systemic blood system. That is why those in the drug design business use pro-drug development to get drugs into the blood stream. A favorite drug derivative is to attach an ethanol molecule to the drug via ester formation with the drug. There is an entire science on pro-drug development and a nice review article in Nature (Pg 248 MARCH 2007, VOLUME 6) on the subject of digesting prescription drugs and design.

          I have nothing against ethyl ester omega-3 dietary supplements. They do have a place in managing medical conditions such as high blood fat. My problem is with the incorrect labeling of products with the term “fish oil” when they are not fish oil. The efficacy of ethyl ester omega-3s has a long history and has been studied extensively. However, these are prescription drugs that contain, for example, Lovaza, contains 345 mg DHA and 426 mg EPA per capsule of oil with a mass of 1,000 mg (77.1 %) and Vascepa (879 mg EPA only per 1,000 mg of oil) or 87.9% EPA. These prescription drugs have non-detectable saturated fatty acid ethyl esters and are of high purity per NDA (FDA New Drug Application). In addition, these highly concentrated ethyl esters of EPA and DHA have warning labels for pregnant and nursing moms. Here is what the Lovaza label says: “8.3 Nursing Mothers Studies with omega-3-acid ethyl esters have demonstrated excretion into human milk. The effect of this excretion on the infant of a nursing mother is unknown; caution should be exercised when LOVAZA is administered to a nursing mother.” Also, these ethyl esters have been shown to increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in certain patients and that is why Vascepa was developed.

          Additional information of using generic LOVAZA in the UK can be found at: http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/groups/par/documents/websiteresources/con152800.pdf where they say: “The potential risk for humans is unknown and therefore Omega-3-acid-ethyl esters should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly necessary.” “Omega-3-acid-ethyl esters should not be used during lactation.” Many of the mislabeled “fish oil” dietary supplements you are taking are not pure and are not of the quality of prescription omega-3 ethyl esters. These mislabeled products have never gone through the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) process by the FDA. Natural fish oil and re-esterified TAGs have all gone through the GRAS process and you can find a complete list of these types of oils at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnNavigation.cfm?rpt=grasListing

          Taking ethyl esters with food is critical because if you are taking prescription omega-3 ethyl esters such as Lovaza to reduce blood fat, you are also told to modify your diet so that you eat fewer fatty meals. If this is the case, then the UK application for Lovaza generic from Teva says: “An in-house study was conducted to compare the bioavailabilities of omega-3 fatty acids under fasted and fed states. The study demonstrated that (i) the fasted state is associated with a flat absorption curve for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and that (ii) the bioavailabilities of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are many-fold higher in the fed than the fasted state.” The fact that these ethyl esters are poor substrates for pancreatic lipase (enzyme that digest fat) shows that the absorption is dependent on what you eat. Natural fish oil (TAG) is already fat and is not affected as much by what you eat and you can take natural TAG or rTAG fish oils on an empty stomach. In addition, this is why Omthera Pharmaceuticals is developing pure EPA (no TAG or ethyl ester derivatives) as a prescription drug to lower blood fat that is independent of a high or low-fat diet. They completed Phase III of the clinical trials that met their endpoints, and they are trying to file an NDA for their drug this year.

          My other point is that many of these mislabeled products do not list whether they are ethyl esters or TAG. The amount of ethanol produced during the metabolism of these ethyl esters is low and if I were pregnant or nursing, I would not take these ethyl esters per labeled prescription drugs. All I am doing is letting the consumer know which products are ethyl esters. As I said previously, many of these low-grade omega-3 ethyl esters mislabeled as “fish oil” is actually marine biodiesel. You might as well go to your local gas station that is selling biodiesel, fill up your coffee mug and drink this to get your supply of saturated fatty acid ethyl esters with a trace of omega-3s. In Japan, ethyl ester omega-3 “fish oil” is outlawed and the only fish oil that you can purchase in Japan is TAG fish oil unless this policy has changed. Ethyl ester omega-3s can only be purchased with a prescription.

          If you are looking for a highly pure high-quality omega-3 ethyl ester product to replace Lovaza (provides 426 mg EPA and 345 mg DHA, mass 1.41807 g, L=24.11 mm, diameter=9.80 mm) that is selling in my region without a prescription-drug plan cost $217 for 120 capsules, then look at AlaskaOmega (mass 0.92748 g, L=20.12 mm, diameter=8.71 mm) selling for $20.79 for 180 “mini softgels” (provides 356 mg EPA and 144 mg DHA) on Amazon. This product is made in Alaska and is made from fish cuttings from Alaskan Pollock and Hake as a nice way to get rid of fish waste. This is one of a few products that actually list the source of the oil and the company (http://purealaskaomega.com/ ) is very forthcoming. OmegaVia is using this company to also provide oil for their product that is more expansive but comes in a larger capsule (mass 1.84915 g, L=27.07 mm, diameter=10.82 mm) and supplies 780 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA).

          As I said previously, if you don’t need medical grade omega-3 ethyl esters, the best cost effective product is Costco’s Kirkland Natural Fish Oil (TAG, fat) that is selling for $8.00 ($5.99 when there is a sale) for 400 capsules that supply 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA. So, for 2 cents a capsule, take two or 4 cents a day will give you 600 mg EPA and DHA which is above the AHA recommended dose for those without heart disease. Four cents a day seems rather inexpensive to reduce a major health care expense in the US, i.e. heart disease.

          Sorry for the long response.
          PIXE

  149. Merry says

    I’ve actually read a study (well, the abstract of one anyway) that found that DHA from algal oil was as readily absorbed as that in fresh fish. Can’t track it down for you right now because I’m in the middle of midterms, but I’ll try to remember to check back in with it when I have time.

      • Merry says

        Neither of which fish have the metabolic pathways to synthesize themselves. They get it from algae or from the lower order marine life that subsists on algae. For example, I take a flax oil/algal oil supplement that labels itself as having ALA, DHA and EPA, so I know you can get EPA from commercial supplements. DPA you don’t find so much on nutritional information. I regret to say I don’t even know so much about why people need it.
        Superficial Internet research seems indicate that fish oil isn’t always a great source of DPA, so I’d be curious to know how algae, krill, etc., stack up. Anyone know f the top of their heads?

    • says

      Merry:
      Here are several references to algal oil vs fish oil and eating salmon.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18589030 (Algal-oil capsules and cooked salmon: nutritionally equivalent sources of docosahexaenoic acid) and http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/11/22/jn.111.148973.full.pdf (A Meta-Analysis Shows That Docosahexaenoic Acid from Algal Oil Reduces Serum Triglycerides and Increases HDL-Cholesterol and LDL-Cholesterol in Persons without Coronary Heart Disease. Note that algal oil does not have DPA which may turn out to be any important omega-3. Remember that the Inuit’s diet contains marine organisms such as seal that contain a high amount of DPA. All fish oils that I have analyzed contain DPA. Also see http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0952327813000264 (Postprandial metabolism of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5n−3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n−3) in humans) you need to purchase this if you don’t have subscription. At least you can read the abstract for free from the link above.
      PIXE

      • Jackie says

        Hi PIXE,
        You seem to know your stuff re fish oils. I have chronic atopic eczema, multiple allergies and rhinitis/hayfever. Im currenyly taking antihistamines and evening primrose oil and i know i need to take fish oils too but with so many brands out there i dont know which one to go with! Which fish oil and dose would you recommend? :)

  150. laren says

    Hey cris,
    I’m 10 week pregnant and taking Nordic Naturals DHA .I was first alittle worried about mercury levels in this product but also I didnt see it on your recomendation list. In your excellent opinion is this a safe and effective product for my unborn baby and myself. Thanks cris.laren

  151. SB says

    Chris,
    Thank you for your great work! I’ve been trying to get some more specific info from Green Pastures regarding vitamin D levels and contaminants in their FCLO and have only gotten only vague pedantic responses. This is a red flag to me. It only makes sense that anyone producing a product which could potentially contain high levels of heavy metals or dioxins, and which is often given to children or other more susceptible/ at-risk populations has a responsibility to ensure the purity of their product if possible. Since we know it’s possible to have fish oil tested, I do not understand why they refuse to make this information available (by giving me vague answers instead of sending their COA directly). There is a graph on their website, but it’s not clear what the graph is supposed to be showing. My question is whether you have been able to gather more information than what’s on their website; and if so, if you’d be willing to share it. I want to believe that they really do have a great product, and your endorsement of it gives me confidence, but I’m still wondering if they’re really as good as they say if they are not willing to give up the information to back up their claim.

    Again, thank you for your work!
    SB

  152. Zephyra says

    Are the Madre Labs fish oils suitable for vegetarians? I’m concerned over the source of the gelatin used in fish oils capsules.

  153. Pam says

    C.K.
    You didn’t seem to have much info on algae oil. Are you aware of the Martek Biosciences Corp. that manufactures NEUROMINS algae oil, and also has research as to its efficacy ?

  154. mehmet says

    Hi Cris,

    I am living in Turkey and it is really hard to find qualified products.Even if you can find it ,it will be very very expencive.The best brand in Turkey with reasonable prices is Carlsons.Can we trust Carlson.I know they don’t declare their test results but how can we feel that we are in safe while using Carlsons products.I am using Carlsons pills and liquid form.Which one is better ?

    Thanks in advance for your kind help.

    Best Regards

    mehmet

    • says

      Miriam:
      I have ordered this brand and waiting for its arrival for testing. Funny that there are several products of fish oil with the name Eskimo-3. I know of three brands.
      PIXE

  155. Angela P says

    Hi Chris,

    I noticed that this article is a couple of years old and I know your views on certain aspects of nutrition have changed recently; are these still your recommendations?

    I am a nursing mother and, sadly, I hate the taste of fish, especially very fatty fish like salmon. I take 10 ml of FCLO and eat eggs daily, but I wonder if that is enough EPA and DHA for a nursing mother. I would like to have another baby when I am done nursing my daughter, so I also want to prep for that. I purchased your Healthy Baby Code but it doesn’t address this issue much.

    I would love your opinion on whether 10 ML of FCLO per day supplies a nursing/pregnant mother with enough EPA, DHA, and other beneficial nutrients found in fish. If not, what supplement(s) do you suggest to make up for this deficiency?

    Thanks,

    Angela

    • says

      Angela:
      I will add my 2 cents. For nursing mom’s you would want more DHA for the infant’s brain and eye development. Same is true if you are pregnant. However, be careful not to take those products that are ethyl esters (not fish oil). The reason being that these synthetic chemical compounds produce ethanol as one of the metabolites. Ethanol is hazardous for the fetus a.k.a. fetal alcohol syndrome. Although the amount of ethanol produced during the metabolism of these ethyl esters is small, there is still concern. That is why the FDA’s approval of Lovaza, a prescription omega-3, comes with a warning label for pregnant and nursing women. You can read the label warnings on Lovaza’s web site. The same API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) that is in Lovaza is also in many of the OTC “fish oil” dietary supplements. However, fish don’t produce ethyl esters and many of the labels on products called “fish oil” are not fish oil but instead are a synthetic chemical compound.

      PIXE

      • says

        Hey PIXE,

        Would you consider a re-esterified triglyceride to be a synthetic compound? Technically it is, but it’s also a great candidate for pancreatic lipase while ethyl esters are *not*. Thus, it avoids the general problems with the synthetic EE. Furthermore, the only researching comparing TG, EE and rTG shows that rTG actually has the greatest absorption rates. So isn’t the bioavailability far more important than whether it’s synthetic or not?

        • says

          Marshall:
          Yes, re-esterified Triacylglycerol (rTAG) are very good even though they are synthetic. However, in natural fish, you will find these same TAGs but of lesser concentrations. The rTAGs are made by removing most of the saturated and mono-saturated fatty acids from glycerol molecule and replacing them with EPA and DHA. The ideal supplement would have TAGs where all there sn positions are occupied by either DHA or EPA. This means that during digestion to MAG (mono-acylglycerol), you will get two moles of DHA per mole of TAG or two moles of EPA per mole of TAG. This is necessary to go from the intestines to the bloodstream and provide the best absorption rates and are independent of co-ingestion of a fatty meal. There are several excellent products on the market that are rTAGs. They are Quell (Douglas Labs, very expensive) and Nordic Naturals Ultimate, also very expensive. There are others less expensive but they have less amounts of EPA and DHA. I will provide names when I return to my lab on Wednesday. However, they provide more EPA and DHA per capsule than the traditional “18/12″ fish oils where one molecule of TAG will contain one molecule of esterified DHA or EPA. There have been several publications compairing the bioavaliability of rTAG vs TAG vs EE besides the one you mentioned.
          PIXE

        • PIXE says

          Marshall:
          Here is the additional information.
          r-Triacylglycerol (re-esterified Triacylglycerols) or rTAG sometimes referred to as structured triacylglycerols (sTAG) in the scientific literature.

          Here are some products that we determined to be rTAGs.
          Omegor Vitality
          Ascenta Nutra Sea 2x Concentrated, Ascenta Health Inc
          Ascenta Nutra Sea Omega-3, Ascenta Health Inc.
          PurePharma Omega-3
          Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
          Paradise Omega-3
          Jarrow Formulas Max DHA
          Nutri Supreme Research Omega-3
          Optimal Health Bridge True Omega-3
          EPA/DHA Blend Distributed by George Elvore (IFOS certified on bottle)
          Parmax Ultra EPA/DHA
          Ortho Molecular Products Orthomega
          Lahana Naturals Omega-3
          Quell Products (EPA/DHA, EPA, DHA) Douglas Labs

          I am sure there are others but you will not be able to determine if they are rTAGs unless you perform some complex analytical analyses. These products are excellent choices but our analysis shows that Nordic, Vitality, and Omegor are among the best. Other issues about these highly re-esterified products is that some have DAGs (di-acylglycerols, two fatty acids and one hydroxyl group on the glycerol backbone) and MAGs (mono-acylglycerols, one fatty acid and two hydroxyl groups on the glycerol backbone). What is interesting about the MAGs is that this is the product of the pancreatic lipase in the digestion step of fat (TAGs) and this molecule is the one that crosses the intestines and is re-esterified into TAGs to circulate in the blood stream. Just think that if you took a MAG with DHA or EPA in the sn-2 position, there is no need for the digestion step in the intestines. TAGs and DAGs have to be broken down by lipases into MAGs for absorption.
          Sorry for the details.
          PIXE

  156. lou says

    Marshall, when we click on Jessica’s name it takes us to a website where every article is written by…wait for it…Marshall!
    Go peddle your snake oil (fish oil) elsewhere please.

  157. Lara Thompson says

    Marshall, If you sell a product then you stand to benefit financially from recommending it. You are no longer impartial. If you recommend a supplement without stating that you also sell it, you yourself undermine your trustworthyness. If you made it clear each time you recommend it that you rate it so highly you also import and sell it, I would be OK with that. But you didn’t. Not here and not when I emailed you asking for your advice. I find that lack of transparency off-putting.

    • says

      *Shrug* I just do what I always have done: I share information so that people can decide for themselves. I point them to IFOS to pick a brand. And if they really want to save themselves the time and energy, I recommend a brand that I also sell because it’s easier than ordering from Italy. I don’t worry about whether people trust me or not. I only concern myself with putting out high quality information. And regarding being impartial, I never was — I’m extremely partial to a few brands, and I tell people exactly why so they can decide for themselves.

  158. Taylor says

    Jessica, until this morning, your name was nowhere to be found on that blog post – it displayed “written by: Marshall Sontag. I’m happy for you that your skin looks awesome..

    Marshall, it is not necessary to show your father’s obituary to prove a point. I respect that you’ve done your research and you know your stuff. The first postings you wrote on this page were to express your skepticism of Chris Kresser’s knowledge which then later on turned a bit argumentative towards him. So maybe you don’t have reason to accuse other’s of being cynical just because they feel “skeptical” towards you.

    I’m sure Chris Kresser put this post out to help others, not turn it into a debate class (which is why he probably grew tired of responding to the argumentative comments being put out). People who spend time debating with others waste good time, energy and relationships – I will not be one of those and will now go enjoy my life, enjoy those around me and continue to learn about fish oil.. the original reason for reading this! :)

    • says

      I wasn’t expressing “skepticism.” I was pointing out a pretty gross error. Chris quoted marketing text, word for word, from a fish oil manufacturer, as if it were scientific fact. It turned out that the marketing text he lifted wasn’t even true, and had no scientific support. When I pointed this out, did he change it? No. Why? I have no clue. He won’t say. Debate is not just an academic exercise for children. It has a place in real life, particularly when it comes to holding public authorities accountable for the veracity of their information. Thankfully, many others have benefitted from this information, so it’s far from a waste of energy.

  159. Taylor says

    Marshall, thank you for getting back – however, I find this to be a little contradicting from what you just explained in your response to Lara.. You claim that you take fish oil because you want to prevent heart issues like your father.. I grew interest in your blog and decided to check it out only to find an article you wrote on “Why I Take Fish Oil” … This was your answer:
    “Like everyone else reading this blog, I know all about the long-term health benefits of omega-3s. But, if I told you that was the main reason I used supplements…

    …it would be a complete crock.
    To be completely and utterly honest with you — the main reason I take fish oil is to get healthy looking skin.
    That’s right. I want good skin.
    The truth is, I pay so much attention to the mirror because I see how my skin is effected by what I eat.
    There are half a dozen other reasons why I started taking fish oil, but healthy looking skin is what usually reminds me to keep taking it.
    —>”I see my skin everyday. To me, taking care of it seems more relevant than preventing heart attacks, reducing the risk of stroke, or making sure I limit my risk to 70 other health conditions that won’t develop for years.”

    Doesn’t seem to match up with your explanation above. I’m not denying that you have knowledge of fish oils, it’s just hard to trust your intention after reading that.

  160. Lara Thompson says

    I too was impressed by Marshall’s knowledge and so went to his wwbsite. Unfortunately when recommending Vitality Ultra-Pure by Omegor he omits to say that he sells the stuff! Which, for me, kind of undermines his advice.

    • says

      What should undermine my advice is whether or not I’ve said anything accurate. Let me give you some background info. Since 2004, I’ve run a blog teaching people about fish oil. Why fish oil? My father suddenly died from a heart attack at 54, and I was determined not to suffer a similar fate. I then discovered fish oil, which at the time was very much undiscovered. The number 1 question I received over the years was, “which brand of fish oil?” My response was always to buy an IFOS-certified fish oil, and my preferred brand changed a few times over the years. First it was an EE brand. Then once I learned the difference, a Canadian TG brand, then a TG product from Italy. Both were hard to acquire in the US without expensive shipping charges. After a few years of running my blog, I thought: Why not make it easier for people and sell it myself? So now I sell only one single product: fish oil (which I import from Italy).

      If you look back up, you’ll see my first post was in July of 2010. I didn’t suggest a product until over 2 years later, when asked directly. So I can understand your complaint if you thought my intentions here were commercial, but I hope you see that’s not the case.

  161. Taylor says

    PIXE –
    Will you please give me your recommended fish oil supplement? I’ve read most of the comments above, sorry if I’ve missed it if you already wrote one.

    Chris –
    I really appreciate this post. Wonderful writing, knowledge and care when putting a post like this together to educate others to be purchasing the best for their health. I will also look into your fish oil recommendations.

    Marshall – What are your recommendations?

    You ALL three seem very knowledgeable on this subject and I would appreciate your honest, personal advice for a general, best quality, purity, worthy fish oil that one can trust to maintain great health.
    Thank You!

    • says

      Hi Taylor,

      I recommend Vitality Ultra-Pure by Omegor:

      http://store.fishoil101.net/

      I suspect PIXE will recommend Nordic Naturals. Both are highly purified triglyceride-based fish oils that have been 5-star certified by the International Fish Oil Standards program. But I like that Vitality has a much higher omega-3 concentration than Nordic Naturals, making it easy to get much more omega-3 with smaller doses. I also like how the capsules are individually sealed, protecting them from oxidation.

    • says

      Taylor:

      To me, one of the best omega-3 dietary supplements is Quell by Douglas Labs that one gel cap provides 600 mg EPA 400 mg DHA. This product is what they call re-esterified triacylglycerol (TAG) in which DHA and EPA have been removed from natural fish oil and then re-attached to glycerol to produce TAGs that predominantly contained DHA and EPA and very little of any of the other fatty acids. This means that many of the molecules (fat) TAG will contain let’s say DHA-DHA-DHA, EPA-EPA-EPA, or combinations of DHA-EPA per molecule of TAG. That means that each TAG will supply at least three moles (molecules) of omega-3s DHA and EPA. Comparing Nordic Naturals Ultimate and Vitality by Omegor, they do not have this profile even though they have been made by re-esterification. Nordic and Vitality’s TAGs have other fatty acids attached that are not DHA and EPA. This means that you get less DHA and EPA released per gel cap as compared to Quell. However, Quell is more expensive than Nordic and Vitality.
      I also purchased a home kit to determine my omega-3 index that I will send back next week to the company to get my omega-3 index. This will give me an idea how well the Quell is working and if I can cut back since my body perhaps has reached the saturation point where taking these high doses (high prices) are not needed anymore because my omega-3s have reached a steady state concentration and I can get by on lesser amounts of DHA and EPA at which point I can switch to a lower content omega-3 supplement at a lower price. Lower amount does not mean lower quality. I will look for a product that weighs less but still has TAGs that are predominately DHA and EPA.

      I am not knocking ethyl ester products but only calling attention to the fact that products labeled “fish oil” that are synthetic chemicals of ethyl esters are misleading the public and is false advertising. They are not “fish oil”. Lovaza (the prescription omega-3 ethyl esters) is not fish oil and is also falsely advertised. In addition, do a search on the term “fatty acid ethyl esters” or FAEE and you will see all the toxic properties of these chemicals that cause liver and pancreas damage. That is why it is important to take (if you must) a high purity ethyl ester omega-3 where the purity in EPA and DHA in the product is at least 80%. Because TAG products do not contain FAEE, to me they are safer and more bioavailable than omega-3 ethyl esters. In addition, one of the metabolites of omega-3 ethyl esters dietary supplements is ethanol.
      PIXE

      • Leslie says

        PIXE Thank you for all the great information you have provided, it is greatly appreciated. When it comes to distilled supplements, it wasn’t clear to me if your thoughts on that were to avoid these or if they are a good choice because it removes impurities? Otherwise, are they able to remove impurities without harming the quality of the oil?

        As for distinguishing which supplements are TAG, did you mean that a rule of thumb for the TAG are the ones with a lower EPA/DHA (180/120) content? if so, would the Quell Brand not be a TAG since it is high in EPA/DHA concentration? I did not see the Quell Brand on the IFOS site, is it under a different section?

        What are your thoughts on Krill oil as compared to other fish oils in terms of health benefits, quality and IFOS standards in general? Thanks!

      • says

        Hey PIXE,

        I checked out Qüell. It’s non-IFOS certified — how come you recommend it? Also, you said it’s molecularly distilled in a previous post, but their website says it’s not. They claim their process is superior, but they don’t go into much detail. Do you understand the process or have any details?

        Also, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss omega-3s other than EPA and DHA. For example, research has shown benefits for DPA. In fact, human breast has very high amounts of DPA and DHA, but very little EPA. Here’s a couple studies that suggests DPA is much more effective at inhibiting platelet aggregation and preventing the development of arterial plaques:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8832760
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11085354

        This in spite of the fact that EPA is sometimes considered the most important omega-3 for preventing atherosclerosis.

        So I consider it a negative that Qüell only has EPA and DPA. Vitality offers 834mg total omega-3 in the latest batch, with 718mg being EPA and DHA and 116mg of other omega-3s. I think that makes it a more balanced product — but I’m open to your feedback, PIXE!

        Best,
        Marshall

  162. Mike says

    Chris,
    First of all great article and series, I’ve only been recently following your website and already I have learned so much. My question though relates to the COA. When asking the company for this is there some things we should look for to insure that they’re presenting us with a legitimate COA and not something that they just typed up themselves?

  163. Larry Butler says

    Is there a way to tell from a Certificate of Analysis whether fish oil is in a triglyceride form or ethyl ester form?

    • says

      Another high quality TAG fish oil: Quell: 60 softgels at $49.50 from Amazon ($1.38/g EPA and $2.06/g DHA). Each softgel supplies 600 mg EPA and 400 mg DHA for total = 1,000 mg. Each softgel weighs 1.71929 g.

      Compare with Nordic Naturals Ultimates 180 softgels at $51.00 from Amazon (87¢/g EPA, $1.26/g DHA). Each softgel supplies 325 mg EPA and 225 mg DHA for total = 550 mg. Each softgel weighs 1.48093 g, length = 25.41 mm, and diameter = 9.70 mm.
      Quell has less saturated fat than Nordic Naturals Ultimate but again cost more.

      Many of the “fish oil” dietary supplements on the market do not list the chemical form in which EPA and DHA are esterified. Most of the time (99%) if the label says 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA or if the label says total EPA and DHA = 300 mg, then the product is triacylglycerol and are just purified natural fish oil. These are inexpensive fish oils and you have to take several in order to get the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommended dose of at least 500-mg per day (EPA+DHA) for those without heart disease. Those with heart disease, AHA recommends 1,000 mg per day combined EPA and DHA. AHA does not mention whether the omega-3 should be EE or TAG. Remember that when the fish are caught, they are steamed cooked and pressed to release what is known as “crude fish body oils” CFBO which would be the oil you would get if you ate cooked fish. These CFBOs are barreled and sold on the open market to various refiners who convert the CFBO into refined “fish oils” that are used in encapsulated “fish oil” dietary supplements. The refined fish oils are the CFBO that have been stripped of various components such as PCBs, heavy metals, free fatty acids, and phospholipids. This is the product in the so called “18/12” fish oil dietary supplements and as I mentioned above, is mostly TAG. I only saw two products (Vitabase Value Fish Oil 180 mg EPA 120 mg DHA (http://www.vitabase.com) and Nature’s Measure Extra Strength Fish Oil 1000 mg (http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Measure-Strength-1000mg-Tablets/dp/B00395R1B4) in which these “18/12” supplements were of the ethyl esters which shows that these manufacturers tried to fool consumers by offering an inferior dietary supplement. The Natures Measure Extra Strength-1000mg “Fish oil” is being sold for 25 cents on Amazon for 30 softgels and $4.49 shipping, WOW!!
      The chemical form can be obtained rarely if you look carefully on the back of the bottle for details on the label. Only a few will mention the chemical form and say as “ethyl ester” or natural “triglyceride” form. In the clinical trials with Lovaza (Omacor) (prescription EPA and DHA ethyl esters), LDL (bad cholesterol) increased in a small percentage of the patients. There are several over-the-counter omega-3 ethyl esters that have similar concentration as Lovaza.
      PIXE
      P.S. Sorry for the winded response.

      • Ty Fyter says

        Hey Pixie, I hope you see this, what do you think of Ethical Nutrients Hi-Strenth Liquid Fish Oil?
        Much Thanks,
        Regards,
        Ty

  164. Cherry says

    Anyone else experiencing nausea after taking cod liver oil WITH a meal? I’m currently taking 1/2 tsp from Green Pasture’s FCLO. I’ve lowered the dosage from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp but still have issues.

  165. Glenn Polin says

    Has anyone looked at the New Chapter fish oil offering, WholeOmega, for purity and other characteristics?

    http://tinyurl.com/6qtjgbj

    Also, concerning the Jarrow products and the phrase “molecularly distilled”; doesn’t that essentially mean “heated” and therefore the quality of the oil is suspect, depending on how much heat is used in the distillation process? I was unable to find any definition about what that process actually consists of.

    I read the comments above from Pixe about what comes out of the process being different in nature from what is in fish oil, so perhaps this process is simply poorly named and doesn’t involve heat.

    Glenn

    • PIXE says

      Glenn:
      You are correct in that “molecularly distilled” does use heat to purify the oil. However, it depends on where in the fish oil refining process this occurs. Some refiners take the crude fish body oil (triacylglycerol, TAG) and molecularly distill the oil to remove PCBs etc. Then the refined fish oil undergoes further processing that will remove more impurities and damage oil due to distilling. Deodorization is another heat treatment to remove bad odors and off flavors in the oil that also uses heat. This heat can cause isomerism such as the conversion of cis to trans fatty acids in the oil or ethyl esters (not an oil). In addition, cyclic fatty acid monomers (CFAMs) which are toxic can also be produced from heat treatment. Other methods to purify the oils or ethyl esters include supercritical fluid carbon dioxide which does not use heat and does not damage the oils or ethyl esters as much.

      Molecularly distilling is used to purify the man-made chemical ethyl esters of omega-3 and causes all kinds of transformations to the chemical.

      A very good book titled “Long-chain Omega-3 Specialty Oils” (2007) edited by Harald Breivik is an excellent book for details on omega-3 processing, algal oils, fish sources, etc.

      PIXE

      • Tiger Intheboat says

        Pixe, thanks for this. I appreciate your detailed comments.

        I think the difficult part of this, as a food consumer and health enthusiast (in other words, and not a scientist or health professional), is that I can’t detect any positive effects on my health of any of the fish oil in capsules. There are times when you can take a nutritional supplement, and you notice a change for the better in a short period of time. It might not be enough to satisfy a scientist, but it satisfies me as a consumer that I am on the right path.

        But I don’t notice this with the fish oil capsules, with any of the brands I have tried.

        I did think, years ago, that the Carlson liquid fish oils were helping my daughter and I, but it was hard work to keep taking them and keep convincing my daughter. But even then, the effect was very subtle.

        • says

          Tiger:
          What brand of fish oil are you taking? Many times it will depend on the brand. Also, fish oil can work in a silent manner. To determine the biological effects, get a lipid profile of your blood. In addition, see if you can get your omega-3 index value. This index can assess your chances of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and your overall cardiovascular system health. There is this fishing village in Japan where they eat lots of fish (natural TAG) and other ingredients in fish. They have one of the highest omega-3 indexes (7-11%) in the world and very low cardiovascular disease. See the open source publication http://www.lipidworld.com/content/11/1/43/#B17 and references within.

          This web site (http://www.genesmart.com) is selling a home test kit for the index and I will give it a try since I have been taking fish oil dietary supplements for the past 5 years. Has anyone tried the kit?

          Disclaimer: I am an analytical chemistry college professor concerned with truth in omega-3 dietary supplements. I use analytical methods to separate marketing fiction from scientific fact. I receive no support from any dietary supplement manufacturers and I purchased more 400 “fish oil” and krill oil dietary supplements out of my own pocket. See part of my collection at http://www.fishoilsupplementanalysis.com/.

          My apologies if any of the above information is redundant and has been posted previously.

          PIXE

          • Glenn Polin says

            I think you have stated the essence of the problem, that “fish oil can work in a silent manner.” At least that is my experience.

            My cardiac health is at least “not bad.” My current doctor said something like “he wished the good cholesterol number was higher” but overall, for my weight and age and all my other problems, my lipid profile wasn’t particular problematic.

            (I would be happy to share the lipid numbers if anyone cares…I have another test coming up shortly)

            My point was that I can’t detect feeling any different no matter which fish oil I take, or even if I stop taking it. There are other supplements (for example, pycnogenol, which reduces inflammation and corresponding pain, or 5-HTP) where you can clearly understand the benefit by seeing how you feel before and after taking the supplement. I simply can’t find any obvious improvement or noticeable change from the fish oil.

            I am currently taking New Chapter WholeOmega.

            http://www.newchapter.com/fish-oil/wholemega

            Before that, I had taken Jarrow Max DHA, the Carlson liquid, Natural Factors…(my wife is still using this one)

            http://www.iherb.com/Natural-Factors-RxOmega-3-Factors-EPA-400-mg-DHA-200-mg-240-Softgels/4251

            and probably some others I have forgotten about.

            I am fascinated by the test for the lipid profile, and want to hear if you think it is accurate.

            By the way, the state of New York refuses to allow consumers to have access to such tests. New York consumers can’t order any of these blood tests; it is against New York law.

            Tiger

  166. Jerry Kalkin says

    One thing that you will rarely hear is that people are having adverse reactions to krill oil. I took krill oil for many months. After a while, I noticed that my heart would skip and act erratically from time to time. It eventually got to the point where I had to go to the heart clinic and get a holter monitor to find out when and why my heart was acting up. Nothing was recorded during the time of the monitor. Health care is so expensive so I decided to do some research online and was surprised to find one little forum on a remote page found on google. People were having similar issues as I was and they were all taking krill at the time of their heart problems. I stopped taking krill that day and ever since, all my heart symptoms went away. The doctors have no clue about this. This was a case where the internet helped “cure” me through simple exchange of information. That’s power! Anyway, people should know that krill oil and it’s possible adverse effects are certainly not being reported by the media, fish oil companies, or by the health industry.
    It was the MegaRed softgel product that I took.

    Jerry

  167. Megan says

    Could you address the potential dangers of consuming fish oil that has been molecularly distilled and advise whether we should avoid such molecularly distilled oils? I’ve been taking Omapure Fish Oil by Vitoria Biosciences for the past year (which is molecularly distilled), and I’ve just read information cautioning against taking any molecularly distilled oil. If we should in fact avoid consuming molecularly distilled fish oils, are there manufacturers you would recommend who produce non-molecularly distilled fish oil products? Thanks.

    • PIXE says

      If the bottle says molecularly distilled, you can be about 95% sure the product is ethyl ester omega-3. The concentration of EPA and DHA are much higher that the traditional “18/12″ tracylglycerol (TAG) natural fish oil that are found naturally in fish. The ethyl ester forms of EPA and DHA are made by reacting ethanol with the free fatty acids released from the nature made natural fish oils. This reaction converts the nature-made EPA and DHA to a man-made chemical that has a less efficient bioavailablity. This reaction (transeterification) is the same reaction that is used to convert cooking oils (TAG molecules) to bio-diesel. The absorption of the ethyl esters are only effective if you take them with a high fat meal and then they are still not effective as the TAG form of the omega-3s. In addition, when the body digests the ethyl ester forms, the byproduct is ethanol. There are a few brands that are TAG and molecularly distilled such as the Nordic Naturals and Quell brands. They are more expensive but they are more absorbed when compared to the synthetic EPA and DHA ethyl esters. I don’t understand how these manufacturers get away with calling their products “fish oil” when they are not.

      • Marshall Sontag says

        PIXE: Love your comments. You’re probably the smartest guy on this page when it comes to fish oil. Would you mind emailing me? I have some questions to ask you. marshallsontag =at= gmail.com

        By the way: Here’s another IFOS-certified brand that’s also in the TAG form that I like because it has 80% omega-3 concentration: http://store.fishoil101.net/

  168. Lara Thompson says

    Hi, can anyone provide an update since this article on whether krill oil is the way to go? And if so, which brand?
    If anyone can help with current info on best brands of fish oil available in UK I’d be so grateful.
    Many thanks, Lara

  169. PIXE says

    Your definition of the ethyl ester of omega-3 is incorrect. The ethyl esters of omega-3s are produced from fish by transesterification where crude fish oil as triacylglycerols (not the old outdated term triglycerides) which is a triester is reacted with ethanol (ethyl alcohol) in the presence of a catalyst to form the DHA and EPA ethyl esters. If the fish oil says “molecular distilled” there is a high probability that it is of the ethyl ester form. In addition, the ethyl esters don’t contain saturated fat as do the triacyglycerols fish oil which is the natural molecule in fish. Fish don’t produce ethyl esters. Fish oil of ethyl esters are not really fish oil, it is a synthetic compound of omega-3 ethyl esters. See Omacor and Lorvaza.

    This statement is also incorrect “The ester form is still in a semi-natural state because it is the result of a process that naturally occurs in the body. ” The body does not make the ethyl ester and it is not in a semi-natural state. When the ethyl esters of omega-3s are digested, one of the end products is ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and the other is the free fatty acids of DHA and EPA.

    PIXE

  170. Michael Sprung says

    Hi Chris,

    Great article.
    Regarding the COA. How can I get Jarrow’s COA ? Is it published online somewhere ?
    I saw that some Omega 3 producers use the IFOS standard which seems safer and more strict than CRN (the one Jarrow uses). What do you think ?

    Thank you,
    Michael

  171. Ronald Kragnes says

    Chris, great work as always. I was wondering if you could comment on the products below. Skate Liver Oil vs. Cod Liver Oil with the Green Pastures product (I don’t like how hard it is to find the DHA/EPA amounts on their products)? Secondly, the Carlson’s product vs. the Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil? Thanks for all you do. I love the books and the podcast.

    Green Pastures Fermented Skate Liver Oil Capsules – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004PAP9E8?linkCode=xm2&tag=invihand-20

    Carlson Labs Very Finest Liquid Fish Oil – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LF39RO?linkCode=xm2&tag=invihand-20

  172. Mike Ellwood says

    In similar vein to the last paragraph from Suzie Walker, but with respect to Cod Liver Oil:

    I’m afraid most if not all of the over-the-counter CLO sold in Britain is heat-treated, and has synthetic vitamins A and D added back in. This alone would stop me buying it, in addition to what Suzie said.

    I have used a CLO from Nordic Naturals in the past (expensive), but I’m liking more the sound of the GP FCLO, although I have yet to try it.

    I’ve tended to minimise fish in the past because of a slight fear of toxins, but also the inconvenience factor of fresh fish, and a distrust of canned or packaged, but I think I’ll revisit that. I do eat Craster Kippers from time to time – no cleaning required, easy to cook, nice and oily, nice taste. Last one I had I managed to eat completely, including most of the head and some of the tail, a la Inuit :-)
    I do worry about toxins due to the smoking process though, or is that another unnecessary fear?

  173. says

    Excellent information here. I wish I would’ve found it like two weeks ago as I just bought some lemon flavored fish oil online. I prefer the oil to the capsules, the capsules seemed to cause me awful burps. Anyone else get that from the capsules? Also I’ve tried the orange flavor as well. I think I prefer the lemon in that case. I just put an article up that stated how basically everyone who can should be taking some sort of fish oil. Along with a multivitamin and creatine. All three of these have huge benefits, creatine helps build lean muscle mass. Thanks for putting this together.

  174. says

    Great post.

    For those in the UNITED KINGDOM asking for suggestions, the best I have found available on the market are;
    1. Nordic Naturals – don’t expect good quality to be cheap, these are expensive but are the most recommended by Nutritional therapists – http://www.nordicnaturals.com/uk/
    2. Eskimo 3 – also highly recommended slightly cheaper than Nordic Naturals http://www.eskimo3.co.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=71
    3. Lamberts Pure Fish Oil – high potency EPA and DHA oil, limited information on their website however the company are happy to answer any questions. Most affordable of the 3 and I have some clients on a low budget who also don’t eat any fish so this is the next best option.

    Stay away from any fish oil (or any supplements for that matter) from Boots, Holland and Barratt, Tesco and the rest of supermarkets all extremely low quality with low doses and cheap fillers.

    Suzie

  175. Teresa says

    Me gustaría saber su opinión sobre los suplementos de Life Extensión, en particular del O3. Son recomendables también?

  176. says

    Carlson’s makes a high vitamin D cod liver oil that I’ve been taking for the past three years “Super D — Omega 3″. It contains 2000mg of vitamin D per teaspoon. As far as I can tell Carlson’s is top quality although it is expensive.

  177. Cathryn says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks to your high praise of Paul Jaminet, I have read his blog and book and am following his diet advice very closely. I have noticed a significant improvement in many aspects of my health. I am not overweight, but I do have rheumatoid arthritis (mostly in remission) and have had skin problems on and off. Lately my skin looks and feels very good, probably due to the increase in fat because the rest of the PHD is pretty much the way I have eaten for many years. Been working on getting my gut healthy for many years and on this diet, it feels better than ever. I think it is completely healed.

    Because Paul recommends no fish oil supplementation and you do, I am torn. I also have several bottles of Jarrow Max brand on my shelf, you know, ordering in bulk to save a few bucks. I hold both you and Jaminet in high regard and realize, too, that you may not have all the answers. I eat plenty of salmon and sardines, have given up nuts and am cutting down slightly on chicken (only eat it every 4 days or so anyway). Eat the pastured beef, etc., all the best stuff. Do I need supplementation just because I have RA?

    Just wondered if you might want to comment on what seems like a pretty big discrepancy. Do you still stand firmly on the advice you gave in this post?

    Always appreciative of all you do.

  178. Alyson says

    HELP!!!!!! Please can you tell me the best fish oil to buy in the UK. I have spent hours and hours researching fish oils and nearly all of them state products from the USA, Canada and New Zealand! I tried contacting the IFOS unable to. Asked in BOOTS and after a long phonecall all they would say was that it met EU standards. Not good enough I presume?

  179. gaelmachismo189 says

    Thanks to Maxalife Omega-3 Fish Oil, I’m experiencing less sleep deprivation now. I think I even gained energy because of it.

  180. Laura says

    Hi,
    In the comments above, some people living in Europe consider buying FCLO from Green Pasture. But doesn’t the oil get rancid during the shipping time? I live in Paris, and products from the US are usually delivered in three weeks, sometimes more. I’m worried about that. Does the oil only get rancid after you’ve opened the bottle?

  181. Alex says

    Hi everyone

    Great post here! I’m on Maxalife fish oil supplement now and i can really say that it helps and does a lot to our body. I rarely get sick now. I have more energy than before. I don’t get tired easily. It also worked as anti-inflammatory. For those who are thinking of buying fish oil supplements, just check the ingredients first before making your purchase. Make sure also that the process was cleanly done. It should also be high in EPA and DHA.

  182. Karen says

    A last word on the subject, having read Chris Masterjohn’s piece on the WAPF website (http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/2021-precious-yet-perilous) I’m inclined to agree with you, Chris (Kresser) that it is not necessary to supplement with vast quantities of fish oil, even very pure, as it could throw everything else out of balance. A little FCLO, a good wholefoods diet, grass-fed meat and eggs, oily fish and very limited refined foods seems ok to me. And saves me a lot of money on pricey fish-oils too!

  183. Caesar says

    Hello, everyone.
    Been minding my health for the longest time: effectively. Ditto, fish oil. When Barry Sears started to sell his (expensive) fish oil I wanted to make sure that Costo’s caplsules wre just as clear of toxins. At the time had an exchange with Costo’s CEO & head buyer. The Costo product has the same purity, according to them. There might be a better product, or, not. In OUR case we weekly consume enough salmon & sardines that sticking to the reasonably priced Costco capsules seems more than OK.
    ________________
    PS. The mouth/gums are huge source of vascular inflamation. Thorough immediate oral hygiene upon getting out of bed in the morning is a HUGE inflamation deterrent. Cleanliness IS next to godliness.

  184. Karen says

    Also, I just checked the Carlson bottle and it has purity guaranteed, tested using AOAC protocols etc written all over it but maybe this isn’t enough – I know I can Nordic Naturals but am not sure if any of their products are Vit D free which I want as I take the FCLO. And also some seem higher in DHA than EPA and I never know which is more important or what the ratio should be or if it doesn’t really matter. Confused as ever so any recommendations/advice appreciated!

  185. Karen says

    Thanks, Marshall – glad the olive oil is ok. So should I supplement with fish oil after all in your opinion? And do you know of a UK available brand that you would recommend? I’ll check out the IFSA in the meantime as you suggest, thanks for the input.

  186. Marshall says

    Karen, Olive oil has no n-6, just the hormonally-neutral n-9. Carlson’s doesn’t publish regular test results of the contamination & oxidation of their fish oils. Your best bet is to check the International Fish Oil Standards program for the 5-star brands. With these, you can ensure optimal levels of purity & freshness. They test 4 different indicators of freshness (peroxide, total oxidation, anisidine leves and acid values) as opposed to the single indicator of freshness (peroxide) that this “definitive” guide suggests to check for. Furthermore, all high quality supplements will include a fat-soluble antioxidant to protect them from oxidation, but it’s worth taking more, such as Vitamin E.

    Chris: grass fed beef has around 25mg of omega-3 per oz, FCLO has 270mg of omega-3. Are you saying less than half a gram per day of omega-3 is enough?

  187. Karen says

    Thank you, Chris. I did think of trying canned but wasn’t sure if the level of n-3 etc was compromised by canning. We do eat grass fed meat and I’ll try and reduce the n-6 intake too – is olive oil v. high? Thank you so much for the fast, succinct answer!

  188. Karen says

    Having read through this thread and others across the web I’m still confused if taking Green Pastures FCLO will provide enough n-3 or should I/my family supplement with more? I did take the Carlson labs fish oil liquid (no A or D) on top, which seems to have a huge amount of both EPA and DHA in it but then thought was it too much of a good thing (and unnecessary cost and I worry about rancidity although on the upside it tastes ok and the kids will take it which they won’t do with the FCLO). We eat fish but wild local salmon is PROHIBITIVELY expensive in the UK and only available in season (I’m not counting tasteless, frozen wild Atlantic) which leaves mackerel/sardines which we probably don’t eat 3 times a week. I also use a lot of olive oil which made me worry that my n-6 is too high or at least not in balance – little or no processed food though so few seed oils. Any advice for a mother struggling to do her best appreciated, thanks, Chris!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Can you buy canned wild salmon? That’s one option. Otherwise, FCLO + grass-fed meat + very low intake of n-6 should be enough.

  189. julia says

    so you dont recommend the salmon oil any more?? If you cant get your hands on FCLO would you still recommend salmon oil as next choice?
    or wuld something like sear’s omega RX (distilled and concentrated) or nordic naturals be suitable?
    ( fermented clo is not available where i am) to treat autoimmune inflammatory diseases like psoriasis ( that i have badly)
    i understand the need to reduce n6 for inflam reduction but do you agree in the current recommendations to increase to about 4000 mg EPA/DHA per day for such conditions as some say… ??
    i gather you would think that too much omega 3 is not good, but would this kind of level be too much, in your eyes…..

  190. julia says

    i was just wondering if this thread was still going on fish oil and whether you still consider DHA superior to EPA, as i read of some down sides to dha just recently but didnt note what …unfortunately… !!!! and whether it is clearer on this subject …than it was…
    are you stilll recommending the fish oils above???
    and if not what???
    i cant do krill it seems , so need to get the right fish oil …

    • Chris Kresser says

      My recommendation is to reduce n-6 consumption to 2-3% of total calories if possible, and then eat 3 6oz. servings of fatty fish per week. Fermented cod liver oil is also a good choice, but it’s more of a fat-soluble vitamin supplement than an EPA/DHA supplement.

  191. Marshall says

    Hi Chris,

    You’re right about Lovaza money grab. It’s an Ethyl Ester no less, which, as the available research shows, has impaired absorption compared to re-esterified triglycerides. However, strangely, you still haven’t corrected your mistake in this “definitive” guide.

    Furthermore, reducing omega-3 benefit to simply a balance of omega-6 shows an incomplete understanding of the full function of omega-3s in the body. As a single example, look at the crucial role of DHA in BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), which is responsible for the production of new neurons and repair of damaged neurons in the brain.

    What exactly about your guide, with its misinformation, makes it definitive?

    ~Marshall

    • Chris Kresser says

      I understand very well the role of DHA and have written about it here and elsewhere. That doesn’t mean we need tremendous amounts of it through fish oil supplementation. Eating fish 2-3 times a week (6 oz. serving) and reducing omega-6 to 2-3% of calories (in line with evolutionary norms) is enough to balance the ratio. Think of it from an evolutionary perspective, Marshall. And consider the studies that suggest excess omega-3 (including DHA) may promote angiogenesis and cancer in susceptible individuals. N-3s are fragile and vulnerable to oxidative damage. It’s not a “more is better” type of thing.

  192. Tom says

    New to this space and trying to catch up. How do you view prescription product Lovaza. Is pharmaceutical industry doing a good thing bringing a product like this forward?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Nope. A blatant money grab. Nothing special about Lovaza, and in fact it’s best to balance omega-3/6 ratio by reducing omega-6 intake and eating fish. No need for Big Pharma.

  193. Alicia says

    Hi everyone! Im new to THS and am wondering what brand of fish oil i should take. I am living in Australia so the brands that have been mentioned arent available here. I have found one called Swisse Wild Fish Oil…..”and is one of the only fish oils in the world sourced sustainably from wild fish that swim freely in the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean free range fish. As a result, Swisse Ultiboost High Strength Wild Fish Oil is free from the high levels of environmental toxins often found in farmed fish….” EPA levels are 270mg and DHA 180mg
    They also have a product called Wild Salmon Oil which has lower EPA and DHA than the fish oil..what are your opinions?
    This is the Swisse website – http://www.swisse.com.au/Swisse/PRODUCTS/default.aspx#/HOME-k/

  194. Malin says

    Thank you Chris for this great guide! I was interested in ordering Green Pastures codliver oil, but unfortunately the shipping cost to Sweden would be as much as the product itself…:( So I have a question for you, do you know anything about the Scandinavian brand Möllers Tran codliver oil, from Norway? They claim they have more strict rules when it comes to both purity and freshness than the norweigan authorities and EU, the european community. Don’t think we have COA here, or is it world-wide?

    BW
    Malin

  195. Jessie Hancock says

    Chris (and Ruth),

    I’m a vegan and I’ve been researching EPA and DHA (and generally Omega-3 and Omega-6) for a long time. In response to comments about Opti3 vs V Pure I must say I disagree.

    Opti3 provides far more total Omega-3 than V Pure (DHA, EPA, ALA and SDA). Despite what they say, we found next to zero EPA in V Pure when we tested it as part of a study, and they never replied to our many emails about this! If you plan to buy V Pure, I recommend you ask them to prove it actually has any EPA in it first!

    As for Omega-6, there is a lot of research showing that a balance between 3,6 and 9 is good (in fact vital for heart health – check out the many reports by searching on Google). I know from talking to the Opti3 guys during my study that a lot of thought was put into the levels and combinations they used.

    Regardless of the argument of Omega-6, the level in Opti3 is very low anyway and I understand only comes from sunflower oil-ba