I received this online question: I started taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement because I heard it helps lower risk for a heart attack. But now I am hearing that some of these pills are tainted with toxic chemicals. Should I toss mine?
My opinion: Because supplements are not regulated by FDA in our country, many supplements are full of flour, stearate and gelatin instead of containing the promised ingredients. In case of fish oil in particular, there have been many reports of contamination with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) – a family of industrial chemicals that are carcinogenic in high doses. There are also reports of contamination with very high levels of mercury, when manufacturer does not subject fish oil to proper distillation protocols. There are some reputable independent labs which test supplements for authenticity and quality control. If your particular fish oil product fails their testing criteria – you should in fact throw it out. Generally, I would only take supplements if my medical doctor who is responsible for my health recommends a specific one and explains to me why the benefit of taking it would outweigh the side effects. When a new patient tells me that they have been taking supplements indiscriminately – I recommend testing blood for lead, mercury, and copper, and other heavy metals, as most of the supplements are made outside of the US and are often contaminated.
I am also commonly asked about the best way to take fish oil. Fish Oil gelcaps are the least expensive mode of delivery. Enteric Coated Sofgels are a little more expensive and help you avoid the fish burp by delivering oil to the small intestine instead of the stomach. Fish oil liquids are a good option if you want to avoid the capsule add-ons but it must be refrigerated after opening and shaken well before use. It is generally also a little bit more expensive.
My personal liquid fish oil favorite is Nordic Naturals Arctic Omega Lemon liquid and is gluten, milk, and artificial color-free. If you like more intense/concentated formula (such as for athletes or folks under high stress), I like Pro-Omega Lemon Liquid. If you prefer to take gelcaps, I love Nordic Naturals ProOmega Lemon. Ideal for pesco-vegetarians, ProOmega® in fish gelatin soft gels is a double strength EPA+DHA formula for more omega-3 benefits in fewer servings. For high intensity, therapeutic support for both body and mind, ProOmega is an excellent choice, containing 1100 mg EPA+DHA per serving. All of the above can be purchased online by clicking below link:
As far as which manufacturers did not live up to testing standards, I use ConsumerLab.com independent testing results. You can see if your fish oil passed or failed their testing.