I will probably write a really long expanded version of this at some point, but I threw this together for a friend-of-a-friend type person, so here you go:
How to choose a fish oil:
Easiest way? Buy Nordic Naturals. They're everywhere and they're very
good. Slightly more difficult way? Look up the product here:http://www.ifosprogram.com/IFOS/default.aspx
That is slightly more troublesome because the testing is by *batch*,
so you have to make sure you're not only getting the right brand, but
also the right lot number. For example, maybe brand X has a good score
from 2008, but it's been awhile and their manufacturing contract
changed, so now they're getting it from somewhere else. So you really
do have to see WHEN the test occurred, and for what batch.
Fish oils, and Omega-3 fats in general, are broken down into several
component parts. The important ones in fish oil are EPA and DHA. A
good fish oil label will tell you how many milligrams of EPA and DHA
are in each serving (look at serving sizes! A fish oil with a serving
size of 2 capsules will look like it's twice as strong as a comparable
product that lists a serving size of 1 capsule!)
Also: Keep in mind that you aren't going to get anything resembling a
reasonable dose from one fish oil capsule a day. Most people don't get
NEARLY enough omega-3. If you're taking it for general wellbeing,
shoot for about 360 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA at the very
least...personally I'd recommend more than that, more like 500mg of
EPA a day and 300 of DHA. If you are dealing with joint pain,
depression, cardiovascular issues, or eye problems, you're going to
need to take more, and I'd recommend doing a little research on the
appropriate amount needed, and talk to your physician. Although fish
oil is incredibly safe, you do need to watch out if you're taking
warfarin or other heavy-duty anticoagulants.
* If your fish oil doesn't tell you how much EPA/DHA it has, SKIP IT.
"1,000 mg fish oil" isn't good enough. You need to know what's in it!
* If your fish oil makes you have "fishy burps"--IT'S RANCID! SKIP IT.
Good fish oil should NEVER do this. Never, ever, ever. I tell all my
customers to immediately return ANY fish oils if that happens, and
I'll refund their money, no questions asked. I'll also pull any
bottles I have in the same batch and check that there isn't a quality
issue for that batch.
* If your fish oil doesn't have an IFOS rating, you can contact the
company and ask for a "certificate of analysis" to be sent to you. If
they don't have this information, are unwilling to send it to you
immediately, or did it in-house as opposed to sending it to a
reputable third-party lab, SKIP IT! A reputable company is proud of
their quality and should be thrilled to show you the test results.
* If your fish oil doesn't say it's been purified by either molecular
distillation or supercritical extraction--SKIP IT (although you can
really screw up molecular distillation and "fry" the oil, damaging the
delicate fatty acids, so this alone isn't enough of a quality
* If your fish oil doesn't state what fish species it's from--SKIP IT
(in general, you want small fish like sardines and anchovies. Salmon
oil isn't necessarily better!)
If this seems complicated, it is, a little. Fish oil has become big
business, and so there are eight zillion companies trying to cash in.
But because it is such a valuable supplement, a little research can
mean that you have a product that can benefit just about every part of
your body. Remember--they're called "essential fatty acids" because
they are ESSENTIAL.