Fish Oil Brands That We Like & Recommend
Joan called last week with a problem.
Her husband, Mark, (no, he’s not the problem!) is an OmegaVia customer and had seen his blood tests improve nicely after taking the product. Encouraged by his results, Joan tried to swallow one of our pills. “I just can’t do it,” she complained. “I can’t swallow pills. Is there a liquid fish oil brand that you recommend?”
I told her to try my two favorite liquid fish oils:
I know a few people at Zone Labs and they’re driven by science, knowledge and quality, so I’m sure I steered Joan in the right direction.
Yes, we sell OmegaVia here, which we think is pretty dang special.
But that doesn’t mean other good fish oil brands don’t exist! Actually, there are a few that we really like.
What’s wrong with corner drug store fish oil?
For the most part, fish oil supplements sold in corner drug stores (and, yes, even health food stores) are useless. There are exceptions, but most are useless because:
- Omega-3 content is too low
- Lack of transparency of purity & potency
- Unknown oil source and quality
You need Omega-3 (lots of it) to balance the effect of too much Omega-6 that comes from eating vegetable seed oils. The two Omegas (3 and 6) compete in your body for enzymes and placement into cells. As your Omega-6 consumption increases, your need for Omega-3 goes up as well.
It’s a vicious cycle because unlimited amounts of Omega-3 is not the answer to compensate for unlimited amounts of Omega-6 in the diet.
But given that the average American eats almost 20 times as much Omega-6 as he or she should, we need high-potency, pharmaceutical grade fish oil to the rescue. And with drug store or mass market fish oils you’d have to pop a dozen a day!
Mass-market fish oils contain 30% Omega-3. That aint enough!
Some new products are 50% to 60% Omega-3. That’s certainly better, but it still aint enough, amigo.
Nordic Naturals makes some very good products that are about 50% Omega-3. I call these products ‘health-food grade’ or ‘concentrates.’ You will notice benefits with them. But there are much more potent and effective products available – see list in Part 2.
If you take fish oils to reduce triglycerides, 60% Omega-3 products will not work. You need oils that are at least 80% pure – pharmaceutical grade fish oils. Note that prescription fish oil, Lovaza, is about 85% Omega-3. And Lovaza reduces triglycerides very well.
Why High Omega-3 Content Matters
Studies have shown that you can take the same amount of Omega-3 from 60% pure oil or 85% pure oil and you will barely notice a drop in triglycerides from taking the 60% pure oil. This is the main reason why I’m recommending the handful of products here – they are all at least 80% pure.
There is a reason why mass-market fish oils are not 85% pure like Lovaza: cost. Specifically, raw material oil cost.
A drum of 50% pure Omega-3 fish oil costs about 4 to 5 times more than a drum of 30% pure fish oil. And a drum of 85% pure pharmaceutical grade fish oil can cost 25 times that of the 30% material.
It takes a lot of work to get crude fish oil to over 80% purity.
Do you REALLY Know What You are Buying?
Transparency and Disclosure Are Important
When you buy a bottle of fish oil from Walmart or CVS, you hope it is fresh. You hope it contains, what it says it does. Both Walmart and CVS have strong quality requirements from their vendors, but the point is, you don’t have proof of quality and potency. You have to trust. You just have to believe what the label says.
A few years ago, Walgreens used to have a No-Chinese-Fish-Oil policy – I don’t know if that’s still in place. But Walmart did not have a No-China policy on fish oils.
Quality is where neutral, third-party testing agencies like IFOS help.
IFOS testing lays it all bare for you to review, compare and make an informed decision. You will know the exact milligram amount of EPA or DHA Omega-3. You will also know how many parts per billion of mercury or PCB are present. It’s not cheap for a brand to get its products tested at IFOS. And if it fails IFOS’ guidelines, the certificate of analysis may not be posted for public view.
There are dozens of IFOS tested fish oil brands – yeah, we’re one of them. Click on the logo on the left to see our IFOS testing results. IFOS-tested brands are confident in their quality, potency and purity that they are essentially saying, ‘You deserve to know what you’re buying and we have nothing to hide.’
Not all the fish oil brands we recommend here are IFOS tested. But then again, IFOS testing is not the only criteria for selection. And also, IFOS testing won’t tell you if the oil came from China!
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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.