Skip to content

Order online or call toll-free (800) 449-4447

Previous article
Now Reading:
What to Look for in an Omega-3 Supplement
Next article

What to Look for in an Omega-3 Supplement

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 8-10 ounces of fish or seafood per week. Sure, fish are a great source of protein, but what earns them such an important place in your diet?

Certain fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna, are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, key nutrients with several essential roles in your body. They help keep your joints moving with ease, support eye health, contribute to brain health, and they’re champions for heart health.* There’s just one problem: nearly 90% of Americans don’t eat enough fish, missing out on the many benefits of omega-3s.

If fish and seafood don’t make a regular appearance on your plate, you may consider adding an omega-3 supplement to your daily routine. Choosing a new supplement isn’t always easy, and it’s important to make sure you pick a high-quality product you can trust. Here’s what to look for in an omega-3 supplement.

1. Source

Most omega-3 supplements come from two main sources: fish oil or algal oil.

Fish oil supplements are easy to find, but they’re not all created equal. Look for fish oil that’s sourced from a single species of fish – this makes it easier to control the quality and deliver a pure, safe omega-3 fish oil supplement.

While algal oil-derived omega-3 supplements aren’t quite as common, research suggests that algal oil is just as bioavailable (easy for your body to absorb) and beneficial as fish oil.* In fact, fish are only rich in omega-3s because they eat algae or other fish that have consumed algae. So, when you choose an algal oil omega-3 supplement, you’re essentially getting your omega-3s straight from the source. If you follow a plant-based diet or prefer an omega-3 supplement without fish, algal oil is a great alternative.

2. Key omega-3s: DHA & EPA

The supplement facts panel tells you almost everything you need to know about a supplement. It’ll tell you how much fish or algal oil each serving of your supplement provides, but make sure you look at the omega-3 content, too. Although there are a few different types of omega-3 fatty acids, research has linked most health benefits to two in particular: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).* The amount of DHA and EPA varies greatly among omega-3 fish oil supplements. Be sure to compare supplements based on their amount of DHA and EPA, not the amount of total fish oil.

While there’s no established recommended daily value (RDA) or even adequate intake level (AI) for DHA and EPA (more about that here), most experts agree that healthy adults need at least 250-500 mg of combined DHA and EPA per day.

3. Quality and Purity

Quality and purity are particularly important to consider for omega-3 supplements. That’s because fish can be contaminated with harmful environmental toxins, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury.

But, there are ways to make sure that you choose a safe, pure omega-3 fish oil supplement. Look for a supplement that’s certified by International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS). This organization tests fish oil for:

  • Active ingredient content. This ensures that the fish oil has the amount and specific types of omega-3s the label says it should.
  • Contaminants. This verifies that the fish oil is free of harmful toxins and chemicals, including mercury and PCBs.
  • Stability. This guarantees the fish oil is fresh and hasn’t oxidized or become rancid.

Still need a little extra peace of mind? Choose an omega-3 supplement that’s certified by NSF® International, too. NSF International is a global leader in dietary supplement testing and certification, and supplements must meet rigorous testing requirements to bear the coveted NSF seal. Double certification by both IFOS and NSF International ensures that your omega-3 supplement is the best of the best.

4. Sustainability

Everyone on the planet relies on the natural resources of the Earth to survive – food, water, coal, oil, metal, stone, and so much more. Sustainability is important to ensure that you can meet your own needs, while also preserving the planet and conserving resources so future generations have everything they need, too.

But unfortunately, 34.2% of global fisheries are overfished, and marine populations are rapidly declining. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) actively works to protect the ocean and end overfishing, and they can help you do your part to protect marine life and all those that rely on the deep, blue sea.

Be sure to choose an omega-3 fish oil supplement that bears the MSC blue fish ecolabel. This means that the fish oil is certified sustainable and comes from a fishery that only fishes healthy stocks, is well managed so stocks can be fished long-term, and minimizes their impact on other species and the wider ecosystem.

5. Palatability

Consistency is key. If you’re choking down your omega-3 supplement every day, struggling to keep the “fish burps” at bay – well, you’re probably not going to keep taking it for long. Look for a high-quality fish oil that features these two characteristics to cut down on any fishy taste and odor:

  • Molecular distillation. This is a process that deodorizes fish oil, resulting in an extremely clean-tasting oil.
  • Antioxidants. Oxidation is a natural process that happens in oils that contain unsaturated fatty acids – it’s the process that causes oil to go rancid, or spoil. As polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3s are particularly susceptible to oxidation, especially when exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. Fish oil oxidation can result in reduced quality and stability and potentially be harmful to your health. Reputable fish oils take many steps to ensure freshness and reduce oxidation, such as adhering to careful extraction, purification, and concentration methods. In addition, adding an antioxidant can help slow down the oxidation process and protect and maximize the freshness of your fish or algal oil. Check the ingredient list for an antioxidant such as vitamin E or vitamin C.

There are plenty of fish oils in the sea – and that can make choosing an omega-3 supplement a little overwhelming. So, use this as your checklist to help you choose the best omega-3 supplement for you.



Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping

Select options