Questionable Fish Oil Supplement Quality

Consumer Reports recently looked at 15 different brands of fish oil supplements. Overall they all contained the labeled quantities of EPA and DHA, the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. They did find problems though:

The shortfalls the magazine noted include:
  • Four of the products had at least one sample with PCB levels that could require a warning label under a California consumer law
  • One product had “elevated levels of compounds that indicate spoilage”
  • Two samples of another supplement failed a test for pills with enteric coatings, suggesting the coatings might dissolve more quickly than intended, leaving a fishy aftertaste
Consumer Labs has also reviewed fish oil supplements in the past and found traces of not only PCB, but also lead and mercury. Consumer reports looked at the allowed levels of lead and mercury, if they were detected, but levels were deemed safe, then they got the OK mark. The problem is that lead and mercury are highly toxic and accumulate in your body, so any amount is bad.

A couple of years ago the state of California issued notices to four large supplement manufactures that their products contained levels of PCB that was deemed unsafe by the state and that their products didn’t contain the “Prop 65” warning. This says that this product is known to contain known cancer causing ingredients.  

Most manufactures use the cheapest source of fish oils, that comes from the waste parts, like livers, of commercial fish like tuna, shark, salmon, etc. These are large fish and have lived many years accumulating these toxins. Even with purification the toxics end up in the product. A friend is an ER doctor. She had a young woman come in displaying the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning. They did tests and she had toxic levels of mercury in her system.  After searching, they found that the fish oil she was taking was the source. She was taking a large amount of fish oil for medical reasons and this name brand supplement may have been under the legal limits taking the label amount, but taking a larger amount put her in the hospital. The problem with mercury and lead is that it accumulates and is very hard to get out of your system.

The fish oil I use and recommend is sourced from very small young fish, such as anchovies, minnows, etc, so they haven’t been in the ocean long enough to accumulate much, if any of these toxins. In tests of the raw, un purified oil it less than 1/10 of the allowable levels, so perfectly fine  for any supplement. But my manufacture then puts it through a double molecular distillation. The end result is a product with is 99.9999999% pure – You can’t get any purer.  They also manufacture to pharmaceutical manufacturing standards, far above the requirements for supplements. This assures that what is on the label is in the capsule and what isn’t on the label isn’t.

Fish oil is very helpful for many conditions from heart disease to postpartum depression to ADHD.

 A century ago cattle grazed on grass, and chickens, pigs, and fish ate what they’d naturally eaten for thousands of years. In that case their meat, milk, and eggs were naturally high in the healthy Omega-3 oils, so we didn’t need to supplement as much. But today cattle, fish, etc are raised in pens and fed an unnatural diet of corn and soy. This disrupts their bodies and causes very low levels of Omega 3 oil and too high of levels of Omega-6. When we eat/drink these we end up putting our bodies into a state of inflammation which causes a whole range of problems from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc.  Even organic beef, milk, and eggs only mean they’ve been fed organic corn and soy.  Because of this we must supplement with Omega-3 fish oil, and we need to insure we are getting the best available. To choose the least expensive product on the shelf is potentially putting yourself at risk in other ways.