Are they all equal?
And what makes a good fish oil?
I often get asked this in clinic as fish oil tablets are often an over the counter product that clients will be taking when they come to see me.
What brand is the first question I would ask as they are not all equal. Fish oil tablets ain’t all the same.
There is a difference when talking about your Omega’s as there are 3,6, & 9. Most of your supermarket vegetable oils are Omega 6 and these are also found in processed foods. Don’t get me wrong we do need some of these Omegas 6, but it is the balance between 3 &6 that is important.
Quality Fish oil tablets provide a level of EPA and DHA which is your Omega 3. Omega 3 are the good guys that help to reduce the inflammatory responses by dampening off the arachidonic pathway (Omega 6). So, the higher Omega 3 the lesser inflammation.
So how can you tell a good fish oil? Well, first there is some science behind your fish oil products. So, knowing what to look for is a good start.
- Proof of Testing
First you need to know that your product has been thoroughly tested. It is fairly common these days for fish oils to undergo third party testing. My favourite brand does just this. This is what they test for:
“over 460 environmental contaminants, including almost 200 pesticides, 30 common plasticisers and 3 radioactive isotopes, everything that can be tested has been tested.”Bioconcepts.
The other aspect of third party testing is to do with microplastics. It has become common for these microplastics to be found in fish living at sea depths of 200 to 1000 metres and it is for this reason that quality fish oils are tested to ensure the absence of these plastics in our fish otherwise we will be ingesting more chemicals.
All oils will go rancid (or oxidised) once exposed to oxygen. So Fish oil tablets have a TOTOX rating (total oxidation value) to establish there freshness.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have set a standard of 26 mEq/kg with the lower the number the better. The Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA)(Australia) have set a level of 50mEq/kg and the product I always prescribe and recommend is at 8.6 mEg/kg which is a very low level. Hence again why I recommend my practitioner brand.
Each tablet, capsule or liquid equivalent should yield 500 mg of EPA and DHA. This is not the overall total but the breakdown. So, my brand looks like this:
- Concentrated fish omega-3 triglycerides 1000mg
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 360mg
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 240mg
That means I only need one tablet to yield 500mg of EPA/DHA or 600 in this case. This dosage range means you do not need to take as many tablets making them more economical as well.
I often hear clients state that their fish oil tablets repeat on them. This is not normal and may indicate you have a rancid tablet. A quality fish oil tablet has no after taste and no smell. You can check yours by opening it up, and if it smells fishy then it is likely rancid.
Often the bulk containers found at the supermarket or chemist can be cheap and the reason is that they are likely oxidized. So, taking a fish oil tablet that is already rancid will not provide you with benefit you expect. In fact, taking oxidized tablets will increase your omega 6 not your omega 3 causing more inflammation.
So as you can see not all fish oils are the same, and therefore as a practitioner I will recommend a brand that I am confident will pass all the above tests.
How is the quality of your fish oil tablet??
Written by Jan Caton BHSc-Nat. Owner and Naturopath at Magnolia Apothecary and Owner of The Conscious Spender.