With a myriad of choices in the market, it can be difficult to choose the best fish oil supplement for your needs. With just a few simple steps however, you will be able to narrow down your choices.
While purity and freshness of the product is of paramount importance, this guide takes into account the fact that Omega 3 supplements are a mature product, so most products available in the market from reputable manufacturers are considered to be safe.
Here’s how to choose Omega 3 supplements in 3 easy steps:
1. Plant or Animal Based
Are you a vegetarian? Do you prefer using non animal products?
Most Omega 3 supplements are based on fish oils because both the active components, EPA and DHA, are most easily extracted from fish.
Plant sources on the other hand, are a little more tricky, and tend to be more expensive. While DHA can be extracted from Algae, it seems to lack EPA. Most Omega 3s from other plant sources like flax seed oil are mostly in the ALA form, from which the body needs to break down into DHA and EPA for it to be usable. Studies seem to suggest that this process is not efficient however, with little of the consumed ALA being converted to EPA/DHA.
Some may still prefer plant sources of Omega 3 since they’re less likely to be contaminated as they’re at the bottom of the food chain, though this is mostly mitigated in fish oils by modern decontamination techniques, like molecular distillation.
Summary: Omega 3 are available in fish or non-fish sources. Fish sources tend to be cheaper and with more EPA/DHA. Click here (coming soon) for more information on vegetarian friendly omega 3 products, or read on to learn how to choose omega 3 fish oil supplements.
2. Concentration – EPA/DHA Amounts
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s. This EPA and DHA are the Omega 3 oils that you’re paying for.
Most omega 3 fish oil products have 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA per softgel. These are the most affordable.
Products with higher concentrations of EPA and DHA per softgel are also available, and may go up to 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA per capsule. Naturally, they tend to be more expensive.
Some might find it more convenient because you carry less pills while travelling and you’ll need to swallow less pills to get similar benefits. It might even be more cost effective in some cases if you calculate the cost based on the amount of EPA/HDA.
Summary: Some Omega 3 Fish Oil supplements may be higher priced because they have more EPA/DHA per softgel. Get the concentrated version if you prefer to swallow less pills.
3. Ethyl Esters or Triglycerides
There are 2 main types of Omega 3 Fish Oils – Ethyl Esters and Triglycerides.
Ethyl Ester based fish oils make up the bulk of the products in the market. They’re cheaper to manufacture and therefore cheaper to buy as well, hence their popularity.
Omega 3 oils exists naturally in fish as Triglycerides. As supplements, Triglyceride fish oils are more expensive to manufacture, which explains the higher prices of Triglyceride based fish oil supplements. There is evidence to suggest however, that Triglyceride based Omega 3s are better absorbed by the body. Also, this improved absorption means a lower chance of getting fish burps.
Summary: Omega 3 Fish Oil supplements tend to be either Ethyl Esters or Triglycerides. Get the Ethyl Esters fish oils to save money, or the Triglyceride fish oils for better effectiveness.
Conclusion – How To Choose Omega 3 Supplements in 3 Easy Steps:
Step 1 – Plant or Fish based Omega 3 supplements?
Step 2 – Standard Concentrations or Higher Concentrations?
Step 3 – Cheaper Ethyl Ester Fish Oils or Pricier, More Effective Triglycerides?
Just figure out these 3 steps and you’ll be on your way to easily choosing an Omega 3 supplement that suits you.
For Omega 3 Fish Oil recommendations and tips on how to save, click here.