The best fish oil supplements can provide great health benefits for
the heart, brain, and even joints. It has become a prolific supplement
for those seeking a health boost and as a preventative aid. All of this
means that the market is saturated with the unsaturated fats found in
fish oil. Because the FDA does not formally recognize these benefits,
fish oil regulations are lax in some areas and non-existent in others,
which leads to varying quality in products.
EPA and DHA
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the key omega-3 fatty acids that make fish oil such a boon for your health. Most experts across the world agree that healthy adults should consume 500 mg combined of EPA and DHA per day—double that if you suffer from coronary heart disease (Source). Looking at the supplemental facts label should tell you how many milligrams of EPA and DHA are found in a particular brand of fish oil. If the manufacturer isn't candid about the specific amounts of each ingredient, then chances are that they are low.
The purity of a fish oil supplement is important because fish can carry dangerous toxins such as mercury and lead in their systems. If you plan to take fish oil for an extended period, the purity of a product is something that would be wise to research. You should always be able to find information indicating that the product you are considering has been tested by an independent laboratory for safe levels of mercury and other heavy metals. Ideally, you will be able to find or request documentation showing exactly what the laboratory tests found about the product in question. If a company ever refuses to show their laboratory tests, then put them back on the shelf.
The fatty acids in fish oils are prone to degradation over time or by exposure to heat, light, and oxygen. Not only does this degradation render the active ingredients in fish oil useless, it may also be harmful to your body. When you receive a new package of fish oil, the first thing you want to check is the expiration date. The second thing you want to do is use your nose. While many brands of fish oil have a distinctive fish smell, some are not particularly smelly. It's obvious that a rancid smell means "do not eat," but a citrusy smell can indicate that the manufacturer is trying to hide indications of a rancid fish oil. To preserve freshness, always store your fish oil in a cool and dry place within an airtight container.
Overfishing is becoming an increasingly problematic trend in modern times, so the source of the fish used in a fish oil can have a major environmental impact. If you visit a manufacturer's website, they should let you know if their oil is harvested in a sustainable manner to ensure that you get the best fish oil supplements.