The valuable oils found in fish called Omega-3s have been shown to have many benefits to the body.  Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. They may also prove beneficial in the fight against stroke, elevated blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. We can obtain fish oils from eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. The amount of fish oils we can obtain varies based on the type of fish we consume. Eating 3 1/2 ounces of certain types of fish can supply us with 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids but a weaker source like flounder, will only supply us with around half a gram.  Unfortunately, some people simply don’t like fish; those people may turn to fish oil supplements to increase their intake of omega-3’s.

If you’ve ever gone on search of a fish oil supplement, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by all the different brands. What makes one better than the other? And why is the price range for these supplements so large?  When shopping for a reliable brand, use these three guidelines to increase your chances at finding the most reliable one:

1)      EPA & DHA

EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids, meaning they can’t be produced by the body in sufficient quantities and, therefore, must be supplied through our diet.  When you look at the nutrition label on a bottle of fish oils, you want to make sure that most of the fish oils consist of EPA and DHA. There may be a big $5.00 bottle of “1000 mg” fish oil tablets, but only 100 mg of it may be EPA and 200 mg of DHA.  The next time you go shopping for fish oils, search for the highest amount EPA & DHA per dollar.

2)      The Fish

Fish oils come from fish and the kind of fish that these oils are derived from should be considered. There are many types of fish that provide a significant amount of fish oils: tuna, salmon, cod, shark, halibut, anchovies, flounder, sardines, etc. The smaller the fish used in the fish oils, the less likely the product is to contain any traces of mercury, lead or other heavy metals that can be harmful for your body.  But, not all labels tell you the source of fish.  Look for a statement on the label that states the product has been purified to remove mercury, PCB’s and dioxins to levels below what’s considered safe.  Even better if the purification process is defined.

3)      Check for USP Verification

You can also look for the USP verification symbol on a supplement to ensure that is has fulfilled the criteria of the Dietary Supplement Verification Program. The symbol will indicate that your product contains the correct amount of ingredients as stated on the label, is free of harmful contaminants, will be able to break down and digest easily, and has been manufactured in good practices according to FDA regulations. You can read more on USP verification here.

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