Before choosing a fish oil supplement, do your homework. Find out if its source is sustainable, whether it's, research-backed, and last but not least, whether it tastes good.
When choosing a fish oil supplement, there are many things to take into consideration: potential contaminants, heavy metals, rancidity, and irresponsible fishing practices. So how do we ensure that we are getting a fish oil that will help our bodies and not harm us or the planet? Here are some questions to ask when deciding which product to buy.
1. What do the international governing bodies on fish oil safety say about the product?
There are many governing bodies that analyze fish oil products. Thankfully, there are also organizations that test fish oil supplements to help consumers choose supplements that meet or exceed the purity guidelines set out by these governing bodies. For instance, International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) tests oils for freshness and safety, guaranteed based on third-party test results for oxidation and contaminants including heavy metals such as mercury and lead, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
You can learn about a certain brand by visiting the IFOS website and reading their consumer reports at www.ifosprogram.com/consumer-reports.
2. What fish are used and do they come from sustainable sources?
Companies should know where their fish come from and guarantee they are from sustainable populations that are regulated.
For example, sardines and anchovies are good choices because these two types of fish have high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have shorter lifespans and therefore have less time to accumulate toxins in their bodies. Plus, they are not predatory fish (they don’t hunt and eat other fish), which further reduces their toxic load. There are excellent sources of sardines and anchovies that are in abundance and strictly regulated to prevent overfishing.
3. How does it taste and smell?
Technology exists now that promises optimal absorption and guarantees no fishy repeat or odour. Look for an enteric coated, or gastro-resistant, softgel. These softgels dissolve later in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent repeats and reflux.
4. What research is the fish oil company doing?
Find out what research the company itself is doing on its products. In today’s marketplace many companies are committed to conducting research on their own products, not relying solely on generic studies that illustrate the benefits of EPA and DHA.
Omega-3s from fish oil have been shown to benefit the heart, brain, skin, and more. By asking a few questions of the company, you can reap the benefits and sleep at night knowing you’ve made the best choice for both your body and the environment.