This is Part 2 of a series on how to choose the best fish oil supplements. See Part 1 here.
You’re buying fish oil for its Omega-3.
Many people mistakenly think that fish oil is the same as Omega-3.
Fish oil contains Omega-3, sort of like milk contains calcium.
Unfortunately, most fish oil supplements sold at retail stores have very little Omega-3.
We’ll call these ‘retail-grade fish oil.’ These are NOT the best fish oil supplements!
Retail-grade fish oils have about 30% Omega-3. That’s it. The other 70% is fish fat – mostly stuff that your body does not need or want.
The other 70% could contain saturated fats, omega-6 fats and even some cholesterol.
Do Not Confuse Pill Size with Omega-3 Content
If your bottle of fish oil says ‘Fish Oil 1200 mg,’ then that DOES NOT mean that you are getting 1200 mg of Omega-3. You’re getting 1200 mg of fish oil.
The 1200 mg is the volume or pill size. On most retail fish oil brands, the pill size or volume is listed on the front of the bottle and the amount of Omega-3 is tucked away in the back.
Unless you read the label (supplement facts) on the back of the bottle, there is no way to tell how much Omega-3 is in your 1200 mg fish oil pill.
Since most retail-grade fish oils are only 30% Omega-3, let’s do some quick 4th grade math.
Hang in there folks! This won’t hurt.
1200 mg X 30% = 360 mg of Omega-3 per pill.
Umm…so what are you supposed to do with this information?
Well, here is what you do.
You compare 360 mg of Omega-3 to how much Omega-3 you need to feel benefits. See post on Fish Oil Dosage.
You’ll find that 360 mg is not much at all.
Harvard Medical School. Charles Serhan, a Harvard Medical School expert on Omega-3:
“The kind of benefits seen in most of the clinical trials with Omega-3 generally have involved much higher doses than you see recommended on supplement labels.”
Wall Street Journal. “Fish-Oil Doses Can Be Hard To Swallow,” David Stipp in Wall Street Journal Special Report, January 8, 2008:
“In trials aimed at lowering triglycerides, patients took 3000 mg of Omega-3 per day. You would have to pop a daily dozen of the typical Omega-3 capsules on the market to get that.”
Low Omega-3 Content = Lots of Pills
If you want to reduce triglycerides, you need at least 3000 mg Omega-3 per day. So 3000 divided by 360 = 8.3
Yikes! You will need 8 to 9 pills a day to put a dent in your triglycerides. Not to mention over 100 calories you just ate!
Heck, if you’re going to eat 100 calories, at least make it fun-calories!
If you take 1200 mg of fish oil, you’re not going to feel much benefit. It’s a waste of your time and money – why bother?
This is why the Omega-3 content of a pill is a CRITICAL criteria for choosing the best fish oil supplement.
OK – we know that retail-grade fish oils sold in drug stores and grocery stores have 30% Omega-3.
So are there better ones? Yup. Certainly. And these are the ones you should be focusing on.
Many Health-food-grade fish oils have 50% or 60% Omega-3. These are called concentrates. They are also sometimes incorrectly called pharmaceutical grade fish oils.
These have 500 mg or 600 mg of Omega-3 per pill. Not bad.
Although I don’t think they should be called ‘Pharmaceutical grade’ at all because Pharmaceutical Grade ought to have more Omega-3.
The Best Fish Oil Supplements Use Pharmaceutical Grade Oil
Then you have a new class of ultra pure oils. These are 75% to over 90% pure. This is the good stuff. It’s the real pharmaceutical grade fish oil.
These pills have 800 to 1000 mg of Omega-3 per pill.
Some even have more than 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill.
Yes, they are a little more expensive, but they are absolutely the best fish oil supplements you can buy.
It takes a lot of extra time and effort to concentrate the Omega-3 to such a high degree.
These may be expensive, but they are priceless!
Amount of Omega-3 in One Softgel
Yes, we think we’re special. (Don’t we all?) But we don’t want to toot our own horn too much. There are other great products. Not included in the chart above are a few new super-pure Omega-3 products that belong in the elite “1000 mg Club.” They are:
- Minami Nutrition CardiO-3
- Ocean Blue Professional
- Renew Life Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega
All these products have as much Omega-3 as OmegaVia. Check them out.
The convenience and ease of having 1000 mg of Omega-3 in just one pill makes treating several health conditions simple and easy.
Instead of swallowing a dozen retail-grade fish oil pills to reduce your triglycerides, you can see solid results with 3 or 4 pills.
|Omega-3 Per Pill||Potency||Pills Needed (Daily)||Comments|
|400 mg or Less||Low||8 to 12||AVOID – need too many pills to see benefits|
|400 to 600 mg||Medium||5 to 7||Avoid. Still need too many pills|
|600 to 900 mg||High||4 to 5||OK to buy|
|1000 mg plus||Very High||3||Highly Recommended. Ultra Pure or Pharmaceutical Grade|
Buy only products with at least 75% Omega-3 concentration and make sure each pill has close to 1000 mg Omega-3.
|DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog do not constitute medical advice. This is merely an open discussion of the science behind health and nutrition. Please consult your physician for medical advice.|
About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. Email him.