Thursday, 19 February 2015

Not all Fish Oils are created equal

A recent University of Auckland study has found the bulk of fish oil pills sold in New Zealand and Australia are misleading consumers with false claims.  The study found the bulk of supplements sold in the two countries were almost a third lower in omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claimed.  Only three of the 32 fish oil supplements analysed by the scientists contained the concentrations of fatty acids listed on the label.  The rest had on average 68 per cent of the claimed content.  The majority of the supplements tested were considerably oxidised, ie. the oils were on the way to becoming rancid, and the price made no difference to the quality of the product.

There are many benefits that a high quality and highly concentrated fish oil supplement can bring to the health and wellness of you and your family.  Fish oil is important for us at all different stages of our life - during childhood, adulthood and even into old age.  Without doubt, omega-3 fatty acids are part of a balanced diet.  Fish oils rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids are important to enhance general health, as well as supporting cardiovascular and metabolic health, promoting healthy brain development and cognitive function, reducing inflammation and supporting healthy mood.

How do you choose a good quality fish oil supplement?

Although the study did not indicate any relationship between price and the quality of the fish oils, commonsense tells us that if the price is too good to be true, it is most likely the case.  The market is now flooded with fish oil supplements at unbelievably cheap prices.  Just imagine how much oil you can get out of a fish, I hope you would think twice on what sort of oil you are actually getting, next time you think of buying those fish oils at very special prices!

Find out what the manufacturers do to remove and test for impurities, organic pollutants and contaminants such as DDT and other pesticide derivatives, dioxins, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic, as compared to the standards provided by the authority.  If a manufacturer cannot provide or does not have this information, you might want to consider another brand.

Good quality fish oils are manufactured using nitrogen flushing to produce oils that are fresh and are protected from oxidation.  Like all other oils, fish oils can become oxidised or rancid when exposed to heat, air or light.  Anisidine and Peroxide are indicators of the level of oxidation in a fish oil.  Oxidised fish oils can taste and smell very “fishy”.  If you are using liquid fish oil, you will know your fish oil is oxidised when it tastes and smells too “fishy” to be normal.  If you are using fish oil pills, you can always chew into one and check the taste if it is too “fishy”.  Fish oils being fish oils will always taste and smell a bit “fishy”.  Most fish oil supplements will use some kind of flavouring to make it palatable. Check that natural flavouring is used.  You may want to avoid fish oils that have synthetic flavouring or sweeteners as artificial flavouring may mask the taste and smell of the fish oil that has gone rancid.

Fish oil manufacturers that support sustainable fishing and marine conservation tend to source their fish oils from small fish species.  Small fish species generally have less organic pollutants and heavy metal loads than large fish species.  So, check if the manufacturers of your fish oils support sustainable fishing.  If they do, they should have information that they are certified by for example, Friend of the Sea, an independent organisation that audits and certifies products that practise sustainable fishing.

Remember different health conditions need varying levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA). Therapeutic amounts of EPA and/or DHA are needed to deal with different health conditions.  High level of DHA is needed to help support normal, healthy brain function as well as improve memory in people with age-related cognitive decline.  For temporary relief of pain and inflammation from arthritis and help maintain cardiovascular health, you will need higher level of EPA.  Depending on the health condition you are trying to address, you will need a fish oil created specifically to help with your condition. 

If you are still confused about what fish oils you should be choosing after reading this article, come and see us.  We can advise you and help you choose the fish oil that best suits your needs based on the health outcomes you want to achieve.

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