Disclosure:: I recommend that everyone who participates in the Eat Clean, Live Clean Challenge take a quality fish oil supplement, but many ask me what factors to look for to ensure they’re buying a reputable product. All fish oil isn’t created equal, and supplementing with a low quality brand can actually do more harm than good. This post is written by Jonah Smith, co-owner of the local supplement line Pyur Labs, and it can be used as a reference the next time you’re wondering what to consider when purchasing fish oil. Pyur Labs is a company dedicated to providing clean, quality supplements to people who care about living a healthier lifestyle.
Forming a “top reasons” list for fish oil isn’t a difficult endeavor. There is an abundance of positive omega-3 research that has been conducted over the past few decades, so it’s no surprise that fish oil supplements are the third leading supplement purchased by consumers. I would argue it should be their number one. Being that fish oil supplements are such a top seller makes it a safe assumption that many people already know all the benefits that come from adding this to their daily regimen. They have heard about the cardiovascular benefits, the benefits relating to inflammation and mood, or perhaps they have been told about the benefits in their training and performance that can arise from omega-3 supplementation. Or maybe they’ve never heard of any of this but someone they trust told them they should take it and so they do. Regardless of the reason, they’re taking it. But how do we know which one to choose? Walk into a nutrition store or shop online and you are bombarded with an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to fish oil supplements, so lets take a look at the TOP 3 things to consider when buying a fish oil supplement.
This one is not as straightforward as I wish it could be. I don’t think I can pinpoint an exact “perfect” dose, and I would be skeptical of anyone who claims they can. I personally have read research studies showing various benefits with dosages ranging from approximately 800mg upwards of almost 4 times this amount. The amount that any given individual “needs” is really dependent on a couple factors. For instance, what benefit are they targeting? What does their diet look like? Are they consuming a lot of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids? This is important because much of the benefits of omega-3 occur when the proper balance to the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio occurs. In other words, high intakes of omega-6 fatty acids, means you need high intakes of omega-3. I recommend that you evaluate your situation and make an informed decision for you. At Pyur Labs our recommended dosage range will provide adequate omega-3 fatty acids to individuals who live a relatively healthy dietary lifestyle.
Potency is a major issue, so don’t fall victim to a marketing scam. Whatever fish oil you buy, read the label. Just like you do with your food, turn over the packaging and read the small print. You want to know how much EPA and DHA are in your fish oil supplement. EPA and DHA are the essential fatty acids that your body needs and provide numerous benefits. The dosages mentioned above were referring to the combined dose of these two. I see fish oil supplements that have “1000mg of fish oil” written in big letters on the front of the label and then you read that there is only 200-300mg of EPA/DHA. If you are seeing fish oil for a really cheap price compared to others, it is probably for this reason. Remember, 1000mg of fish oil does not equal 1000mg of omega fatty acids. Pyur Labs’ Omega Complex provides almost 800mg of EPA/DHA per capsule. For most individuals, this is enough to promote general health and combat inflammation.
Regarding purity, we are talking freshness and fish oil free of contaminants. In terms of freshness, fish oil can undergo oxidation and spoil. This is counterproductive because oil that is oxidized can actually promote inflammation — the exact opposite of what we want it to do. You should purchase fish oil that is packaged in a manner that protects it from light. Store it in a cool, dry place like the refrigerator. Make sure that it does not have any rancid odor or after-taste. It should also contain some type of preservative or antioxidant, such as vitamin E (tocopherols) or rosemary extract. As far as contaminants, fish oil supplements should undergo a process called molecular distillation to remove contaminants to levels deemed acceptable by the EPA. Look for this on the label as well as if the oil is harvested from smaller fish, like sardines and anchovies. These fish typically have lower levels of contaminants when compared to larger fish. Pyur Labs’ Omega Complex utilizes all these measures to provide a fresh product free of harmful contaminants. To ensure ALL three of these things to our company and our customers, our product now has the IFOS stamp of approval. IFOS is the International Fish Oil Standards program, which is a third party certification for fish oil freshness, potency, purity and dosage. It gives us confidence that our fish oil has undergone strict testing to ensure these standards are met. In addition to this we have also added vitamin D to our Omega Complex. Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that many Americans are deficient in due to lack of sun exposure and nutritional gaps. So there it is, the quick and dirty fish oil buyer’s guide. I hope it helps next time you are making a decision to buy fish oil. A lot more can be said about omega-3 supplements but I would hate to put you to sleep. Feel free to reach out with any questions or to discuss your own supplement regimen. Jonah Smith is co-owner of the local supplement line, Pyur Labs. He has his CrossFit L1 and Weightlifting certifications and recently became a certified Sports Nutritionist through the International Sports Sciences Association. His formal education is a Masters in Science, providing a career in healthcare. His view on health and well-being is that the best results happen when healthy choices and fitness become a way of life, and this is achieved through balance, practicality and passion.