Guest blog by: Kathy Mankofsky, RD, LD.
“Read the label,” you say, “how hard can that be?”
Well actually, it can be very confusing.
EVERYONE gets mixed up between the amount of FISH OIL and the amount of OMEGA-3 listed on the label.
You might think you are taking 1000 mg of Omega-3 (which is a fairly effective dose) because the front of most bottles say 1000 mg FISH OIL.
To find the amount of Omega-3 you need to read the BACK of the label.
However, if you read the back of the label, you will find that the same bottle says ’300 mg Omega-3.’
According to the FDA, this is not deceptive. So, it is a very common practice in the fish oil business. It may not be deceptive, but it sure is confusing!
The Omega-3 listed on the back are often divided into:
- EPA Omega-3
- DHA Omega-3
- Other Omega-3
Adding up all those individually will give you the total Omega-3.
Note: make sure you are getting 1000-1400 mg of EPA. It is the EPA in fish oil that has been shown in studies to be the crucial component. It is also important to get some DHA, but not as much DHA is needed.
In the label shown above it doesn’t specify how much EPA is in the fish oil. You need to buy a brand that tells you how much EPA you are getting.
Using the label above as an example, you would have to take about 7 pills to get the 2,000 mg Omega-3 that is recommended for noticeable health benefits.
And how many of you are taking 7 pills? NONE, I BET!
So, no wonder you are not getting the health benefits of Omega-3!
Which Fish Oil Pill Has More Omega 3?
Product 1 : 1000 mg Omega-3
(serving size=2 pills)
Product 2 : 500 mg Omega-3
(Serving size= 1 pill)
Answer: They both have the same amount of Omega-3. Each has 500 mg of Omega-3 per pill.
Don’t be fooled! You have to look at the serving size. If the serving size is 2 pills, you have to divide the amount in half.
SERVING SIZE MATTERS!
The More Concentrated, the Fewer Pills
Look around & see what’s within your budget that would give you 2000 mg of Omega-3. Make sure that it is an amount of pills that you are willing to take.
Since fish oil pills are usually big, I’m willing to take no more than 2 pills per day. If you find an Omega-3 product that is more concentrated (sometimes called Pharmaceutical grade fish oil), you will be able to take fewer pills.
When you are buying fish oil, remember that it is the Omega-3 content you are looking for & it is found on the back of the label.
- Tribole, Evelyn. The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet, New York,McGraw Hill, 2007 .
- “Treating Depression With Omega-3 :Encouraging Results from Largest Clinical Study” ScienceDaily, June 30, 2010. Original study was from : Lesperance, Francois et all,“The efficacy of Omega-3 supplementation for Major Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Psychiatry 2011; 72(8)1054-1062,
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About the Author: Kathy Mankofsky RD, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian. She has studied Omega-3s extensively. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.