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August 22, 2012
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.While Consumerlab.com quality and labeling tests showed most fish oil and omega-3 supplements passed, 11 of the 68 products they reviewed had contamination, label or other issues that caused them to fail.
"Every reputable company should be testing each batch of product to make sure it meets the spec, which is a requirement under GMPs, and they should use labs that participate in lab proficiency programs to make sure they measure EPAs and DHAs efficiently," recommended Adam Ismail, executive director, GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s). An example of such a program would be the AOCS/GOED Lab Proficiency Program, Ismail said.
Consumerlab.com said it uncovered the following problems:
Two supplements exceeded contaminations limits for PCBs. While it is best to avoid supplements with excess contaminants, Consumerlab.com noted raw or cooked fish may contain far more PCBs, as well as mercury, than fish oil supplements. Mercury was not detected in any of the products Consumerlab.com tested.
Four supplements (including one of the contaminated products) contained 20- to 30% less than the claimed amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or other omega-3 fatty acids. Products that don't meet label claims are considered mislabeled under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), and having such products on the market weakens the credibility of the industry, Ismail said.
Three products contained two to three times the claimed amounts of EPA or other fatty acids, and one supplement incorrectly claimed to contain 1 mg of fat but contained 1,000 mg (1 gram) of fat. "From a safety perspective, at the levels of omega-3s that companies are 'over-including,' there are no safety concerns. In fact, GOED recently commissioned a safety study that found no upper limit for EPA and DHA could be set; EFSA also last month agreed that they could not determine a tolerable upper limit."
An enteric-coated softgel (intended to reduce fish burp") released its fish oil too early. While releasing the fish oil may bring unpleasant organoleptic properties, Ismail said there are no health implications to having the fish oil release early.
One softgel product contained spoiled fish oil. Again, Ismail said rancid fish oil would taste bad and could hinder consumer compliance, but "The Norwegian government did a whole safety report on the risk of consuming oxidized fish oils and could determine no safety issues."
Consumerlab.com also cautioned buyers that some krill oil" supplements are actually blends of fish and krill oils making their labeling misleading, and some products also claim to provide a certain percentage of the Daily Value (DV) for EPA and DHA, but no DV has actually been established for omega-3 fatty acids. However, these issues did not cause products to fail testing.
In past Consumerlab.com tests, most of the omega-3 products that failed did so because of contaminant or spoilage issues."It's a positive sign that such a small number failed for these reasons this time, although, of course we need to continue to be vigilant about labeling and GMP issues," Ismail said.
In the current review, Consumerlab.com found good quality fish oil could be purchased for as little as 1 cent per 100 mg of EPA and DHA (a typical daily dose is 300 mg to 500 mg). Krill oil was much more expensive the lowest cost being 19 cents per 100 mg of EPA and DHA. Calamari oil and algal oil tended to be priced between the two other oils.
The tested supplements include those with fish oil, krill oil, algal oil (from algae) and/or calamari (squid) oil. Results are published in a new report on ConsumerLab.com, which provides results for the 35 selected products as well as 28 products which passed the same testing through Consumerlab.coms voluntary certification program. The review covers products for general use and those marketed specifically for pregnant women and children. It also includes pet supplements for use by dogs and cats.
The following is a list of products covered in the report:
1-800-PetMeds Super Pure Omega 3 Dogs/Cats
21st Century Omega-3 Fish Oil
Astamega-3 Omega-3 Krill Oil CardioSupport
Barlean's Organic Oils Fresh Catch Fish Oil
Carlson Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
Carlson Super Omega-3 Gems Fish Oil Conc.
Coromega omega-3 squeeze
CVS Pharmacy Natural Fish Oil Concentrate
Deva Non-Fish Vegan Omega-3 DHA
Doctor's Best -- Best DHA 500 from Calamari
Dr. Mercola Krill Oil
Finest Natural (Walgreens) Fish Oil
Garden of Life Oceans 3
GNC Fish Oil 1000
GNC TriFlex Complete Vitapak TriFlex
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil + Krill
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil + Phytosterols
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil + Resveratrol
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil + Vitamin D-3
GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Sport
GNC Triple Strength Omega Complex
GNC Ultra Omega Krill Oil
I.Q. Essentials (Purity Products) Kid's Omega-3 Fish Oil
Jamieson Omega-3 Select
Jarrow Formulas Krill Oil
Julian Whitaker, M.D. O-3 Essentials
Kirkland (Costco) Signature Natural Omega-3 Fish Oil
Life Extension Super Omega-3 EPA/DHA
L'il Critters Omega-3 DHA Gummy Fish
Metagenics EPA-DHA 720
Natrol DHA 500 Super Strength
Natural Factors RxOmega-3 Factors
Nature Made One Per Day Fish Oil
Nature's Bounty Fish Oil
Nature's Way Fisol
Nordic Calamari Higher Potency Omega-3
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
NOW Neptune Krill Oil
Nutrilite OceanEssentials omega-3
Omega Factor 3
Omega-Caps for Cats and Small Dogs
Omega Smart (Renew Life) Kids DHA
Omega Smart (Renew Life) Ultimate Fish Oils
One A Day Women's Prenatal with DHA
Petco Healthy Skin & Coat Omega-3 for Dogs
Puritan's Pride Premium Omega-3 Fish Oil
Schiff MegaRed 100% Pure Omega-3 Krill Oil
Simply Right (Sams Club) Enteric Fish Oil
Source Naturals Arctic Pure Krill Oil
Sundown Naturals Fish Oil
Swanson EFA's 100% Pure Krill Oil
Swanson EFA's Super EPA
USANA Optimizers BiOmega
Vitacost Mega EFA Omega-3 EPA & DHA
Vitamin Shoppe Omega 3 Fish Oil 800/500
Vitamin World Omega-3 Fish Oil
Whole Foods Omega-3 Cold Water Fish Oil
Xtendlife Omega 3/DHA Fish Oil Premium
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