By Travis DeGraff
Fish Oil Label Claims
Just earlier this month I outlined a study by the FDA that analyzed several fish oil brands to determine the amount of trans fatty acids in each, as well as whether they met the Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) label claims. That study found that label claims and actual EPA and DHA content of various fish oils ranged significantly. Most were plus/minus 20% of the labeled amounts. You can read that full article here – Does Your Fish Oil Meet Label Claims.
One of the major drawbacks of that study was the fact they did not tell us the names of which fish oils met label claims, and which did not. In the end it wasn’t all that practical to those of us who choose to supplement with some fish oil. That brings us to a new study out of Purdue University that specifically analyzed the EPA and DHA contents of fish, krill, and algae oil supplements sold in the United States [Ref 1].
Here’s some key details of the fish oil supplements analyzed:
- 47 different cod, fish, algal, and krill oils were analyzed
- They were purchased from 15 different drug stores
- All purchases were made in Lafayette, IN and Chesterfield, MO
- Two different lots of each supplement were purchased
The findings were both interesting and informative. First, all the supplements except the algal oils contained more EPA than DHA. This is for the most part completely normal, and most fish oil supplements are labeled with higher EPA content. The average content of omega 3 fatty acids (this includes Docosapentaenoic acid and alpha-linolenic acid) of the fish oil supplements per gram of oil was 418.2 mg. At the same time omega 6 fatty acids per gram of oil averaged 34.6 mg’s.
Which Fish Oil Brands Meet Label Claims
Okay enough is enough, here’s the good stuff. Of the 47 tested supplements, only 10 met the EPA label claim, and 12 met the DHA label claim. In other words only 26% of the fish oil supplements met label claims. Some of them were so low in EPA and DHA content that they were not compliant by FDA standards. The FDA requires at least 80% of the labeled content for EPA and DHEA. 6 did not meet the 80% level for EPA and 8 did not meet the 80% level for DHA.
The Good Fish Oils
These fish oils met (or within 5%) or exceeded 100% for both EPA and DHA (in order from greatest content to least). Yes, the amazon links are affiliate links, support this site buy using them:
- Nature’s Bounty Triple Strength Red Krill Oil – Buy on Amazon
- Finest Nutrition Cod Liver Oil – Buy on Amazon
- Sundown Naturals Plant Based, Omega-3 – Buy on Amazon
- Finest Nutrition Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil – Buy on Amazon
- Nature’s Bounty Dual Spectrum Omega-3 – Buy on Amazon
- Simply Right Fish Oil 1200mg, Vitamin D-3
- Finest Nutrition Double Strength 1200mg, Fish Oil
- CVS Natural Omega-3 Fish, Flax and Borage Oil
The Bad Fish Oils
These fish oils had contents well below the label claims (from worst on):
- Artic Naturals Krill Omega-3
- Spring Valley Pure Krill Oil
- CVS 100% Pure 300mg, Omega-3 Krill Oil
- Kroger Fish Oil 554mg, Hearth Health Omega-3
- Schiff MegaRed Omega-3 Krill Oil
- Equaline Omega:3 Fish Oil, 1200mg
- Walgreens 100% Pure Omega-3 Krill Oil
- Nature Made NM: Krill Oil
If you notice the trend in the above you can see that krill oils tend to perform poorly. While the best performers seem to be found in krill, fish, and cod oils. The following table shows the entire list of tested fish oils, and what percentage of label claims they met for both EPA and DHA.