How Pure Is Your Fish Oil?


The health benefits of Omega-3 essential fatty acids are vast. They support brain, heart health, mood, joints and our bodies natural anti-inflammatory responses.

Fish oil is a fantastic source of omega-3s and the market is filled with fish oil products vying for your attention. The problem we face, as consumers, is that there are no governmental fish oil standards in the US. So, how can we ensure the product we purchase is one of quality??

Dr. Keri Marshall, Nordic Naturals’ Chief Medical Officer shares vital information on selecting a quality fish oil product. She points out that third-party testing is our way of ensuring a safe product. A responsible manufacturer will commission an independent testing organization that will not benefit financially from the results. The results should be made available on the company’s website. You should be able to find results on websites such as International Fish Oil Standards Program,

Tips, Clues and Cues on Choosing a Quality Oil

  • Purity from containments is vital. Dioxins, PCBs, mercury, and lead must be avoided in quantity. Raw material should be harvested from healthy and abundant waters and then processed to eliminate environmental contaminants.
  • Heat is required in the purity process.

It is important to note that some heat is required to extract the oil from a fish and to remove environmental contaminants. Despite what is being said in the market, fish oil must go through a cleansing process that uses heat. This can easily be done using low heat without injury to the oil. A method such as molecular distillation is effective for ensuring purity levels.”

  • Freshness levels are essential to product integrity. Oxidized oil is not healthy to the body. It is the cause of “fishy smell”, taste and burps experienced by many.

“Companies have been known to try to mask smell by
using flavoring, so check for third-party test results
for peroxide values (current oxidation) and anisidine
values (past oxidation). Freshness is measured by
anisidine and peroxide values, which combine for a
TOTOX or total oxidation value. Look for a peroxide
value of less than 5.0 mEq/kg and a TOTOX value of
less than 26.0 mEq/kg—the lower the number, the
fresher the fish oil. This value is put forth by CRN,
IFOS, and GOED. A quality product from a reputable
company should come in well below these limits.”

  • Processing methods should not include oxygen, excessive heat or chemicals. Some heat is necessary. As long as there is no oxygen present, this heat will not post a threat to the integrity of the oil.
  • Color does not indicate quality. Sometimes the adding of natural flavoring will cause the oil to become cloudy. This is not an indicator of quality.
  • Choose the Triglyceride Molecular Form over Ethyl Ester form. Ethyl Ester molecular form is a synthetic fat. Research shows natural Triglyceride omega-3s bioavailability is 70 percent higher than ethyl ester forms.
  • Dosage is key!

“Products containing a lower concentration of EPA and DHA
mean that you have to take more soft gels to get
the required amount of EPA and DHA. That’s why
a less expensive bottle does not necessarily mean a
good bargain! You must read the label.”

This post is presented in an informative format and is not intended to advise, diagnose or treat medical conditions of any kind. Please verify all information with your doctor or self-advocate in your own research.


Quotes and tips are taken directly from “Choosing a Safe Effective Fish Oil Product” by Dr. Keri Marshall MS, ND Nordic Naturals Chief Medical Officer.

A PDF file of the article is available upon request. Leave a comment with your email address if you’d like a copy.


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