Update 8/1/20. Fish oil supplements are very popular -and for good reason. There is a lot of research that fish oil does a body good. Many studies have shown that the fish oils, EPA and DHA, can lower triglycerides and even lower the risk of a heart attack. Eating fish 2 or 3 times a week (or taking about 1 gram of EPA and DHA) also appears to lower the risk of dying – from everything! But, how do you know if you're getting enough? To help, let's talk about how to read a fish oil supplement label. If my recent trip to Vitamin Shoppe was any indication, most people do not know what I am about to tell you.
Fish Oil Labels
When I was Vitamin Shoppe getting some supplements, I noticed a woman in the section where the fish oil supplements were located. She seemed perplexed – and for good reason. There are MANY different types of fish oil supplements out there! Which fish oil brand is the best? Being the good Samaritan that I am, I tried to help her.
When you look at an omega 3 supplement, probably the first thing you see is a big number on the front label. This number usually tells you the total amount of fish oil that the supplement contains. For example, you may see 1,500 mg on the front of the label.
Here is the problem.
To get the amount of EPA and DHA you have to look at the nutrition labels on the back of the bottle.
The front number and amounts listed on the Supplement Facts label might not be the same.
When it comes to omega 3 fatty acids, we are really talking about EPA and DHA. Fish oil supplements often contain many other types of fish oils in addition to EPA and DHA. The number on the front is for ALL the omega 3 fats.
I'm not saying those other fish oils are useless. I'm sure they do something good but the majority of evidence on fish oils says its the EPA and DHA that we should be eating more of. When I search for a fish oil supplement, I look for a product that has at least 200 – 300 mg each of EPA and DHA.
See the Krill Oil review.
How Many Do You Have To Take?
When reading the label, notice how many capsules you have to take? What's the Serving Size? Is it 1, 2, 3, or 4 capsules? Supplements that say only 1 capsule is needed tend to be bigger in size than those that require you to take 2 capsules. If you don't like swallowing big pills, look for a fish oil supplement that has smaller capsules -or use a liquid fish oil supplement as I do
Fish Oil FAQ
1. Don't Worry About Mercury. Even Consumer Reports, which tends to be very conservative about supplements, reported years ago that none of the fish oil products they tested contained mercury. I'm pretty confident that any quality supplement is mercury-free. This is especially true of you deal with larger, well known, companies that have a reputation to uphold.
2. Beware If You Burp. If you are burping up fishy smell odors after you take a fish oil supplement, its probably because the oil has spoiled. A little vitamin E is often to fish oil supplements to stop them from going rancid but this happens sometimes. Always look at the expiration date on the bottle. I like to keep fish oil supplements in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling.
3. Flax or Fish Oil? When in doubt, go fish oil. Flax is good and also contains omega 3 fats in the form of ALA. While few studies have looked at this, I wonder if at least some of the heart-healthy benefits of flax come from our converting ALA into EPA and DHA.
What do you think?