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Fish Oil

Fish Oil – What to look for?

When health articles mention EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids), they are usually referring to Omega 3 fatty acids. These may be supplemented to the diet from fish oil & flax seeds. Flax seeds have some potential conversion problems in the body due to vitamin deficiencies & other factors that limits the actual use in the body. When you take fish oil, there is no conversion needed & this is the direct way to get the benefit of Omega 3.


The best fish oils are derived from ‘small’ fish that are ‘toxin free’ (Mercury, PCB’s & Dioxins), like anchovies & sardines. Some of the ‘cheaper’ fish oil in discount stores doesn’t specify the source. A few years ago, a major manufacturer said their oils were obtained from Tuna, Swordfish or Shark, which are big fish loaded with toxins. They stated they followed gov’t standards for ‘cleaning’ fish oil of toxins. This standard does not require they be 100% toxin free & the level of pollutants would be stated in ppm (parts per million).


Most all of the high quality fish oil in health food stores & in the ‘physician only’ market is toxin free. These products will be ‘cleaned’ with molecular distillation, with toxin levels in the non-detectible range. This is referred to as ppb or parts per billion. If a fish oil is just stating ppm (parts per million), it could have 1000 more toxins than a ppb product.


What’s the right dose?

The dose that is referred to as the ‘right dose’ is 2,000 mg a day. Most all fish oils are in softgels & are manufactured at 1,000 mg per gel (some are 1,200 mg per gel). When you study the ‘Supplement Facts’ box on the label, you will see this information along with the serving size. The best labels show the serving size as 1 soft gel, but often a company shows the quantity in the total daily dose (more than 1 gel). Be sure to calculate the strength in 1 gel when comparing formulas.


Enteric coated softgels are rated to equal 3 gels of regular fish oil. This means you could take 700 mg in an enteric blend & potentially get the benefit of 2000 mg regular gels. This is due to the fact that the fish oils are delivered directly into the intestines for optimum digestion. The enteric coated versions are also called ‘burp free’ & avoid any unpleasant aftertaste.


To find out how many softgels you need to take to get a 2,000 mg/day dose - you add the mg of EPA & DHA per gel & divide into 2,000. Don’t fall for terms like ‘extra-strength or mega’ without doing the math.

  • For example, a formula with 1,000 mg per gel (containing 180mg EPA & 120mg DHA) has 300mg of total Omega 3’s. It would take 6-7 gels a day to get 2,000 mg (1,800-2,100mg). While the price of these lower strength products looks good, the monthly cost is usually higher at the right dose + you are taking a lot of gels per day. The best products average 300-500mg EPA & 200-300mg DHA per gel. Taken at 3-4 a day, this equals 2,000 mg per day        


TOTAL HEALTH stocks many Omega 3 products at varying strengths per gel.

  • Mega EPA/DHA from Life Extension is 120 gels per bottle ($19.95) & each gel has 600 mg Omega 3 (EPA 360mg/DHA 240mg). This fish oil blend is from anchovies, sardines & mackerel & clean at ppb. 
  • EPA/DHA Essentials from PURE Encapsulations has with 180 gels for $38.70. Each gel contains 500 mg (300mg EPA & 200 mg DHA) & it is from anchovies & sardines.


Enteric Coated Versions are in stock from Xymogen, Metagenics, Renew Life & Source Naturals. With the 3x better absorption factor, daily dose can be reduced by 50-66% for the same benefit as non-coated gels. Most of these products would be taken at 1 gel twice a day & they run $19 to $29 a month at 2-3 gels a day (1200 – 1580 mg EPA/DHA per day). Our highest strength / lowest cost per month formulas are Xymogen’s ‘OmegaPure’ 600 or Source Naturals ‘ArcticPure’ 790. Each formula runs about $19 a month for 2 gels a day @ about 1575 mg EPA/DHA per day. If you apply the 3x better absorption factor, even taking only 1 gel of enteric coated fish oil should have a benefit.


For the hardy types, liquid forms have 1,600 mg/tsp of Omega 3’s & these come in lemon & orange flavors. Cod Liver Oil is also available, which is similar to fish oil with Vitamin D. It usually comes in lemon flavor.


For additional information, call Total Health at (919) 781-9994 or jeff@totalhealthnutritioncenter.com

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.