How to Pick a Fish Oil Supplement

Today there is a lot of information out there on fish oil supplements. What kind should you take? How much? What about USP? I’ll help walk you through the complicated fish oil market.

The first thing I look at on a fish oil bottle is the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content. EPA and DHA are the beneficial omega-3s that provide the greatest health benefits for cholesterol, memory, and joints, among other things. First, check the Nutrition Facts label and look for the serving size. Second, check how much EPA and DHA are in one serving. Ideally you are looking for about 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined per day, but also be sure to check with your doctor for their his or her recommendation. For example, if one brand has 1000 mg and the serving size is 2 capsules, and another has 1000 mg but the serving is six capsules, you have to decide whether you want to take 2 capsules or six—and this also impacts cost comparison.

Lately I have been taking fermented cod liver oil because it also has other important vitamins (A, D, and K) that are naturally present in the livers of codfish along with the omega-3s. It comes in liquid form and there are several different flavors. My favorite so far is cinnamon. I usually do have the “fish burp,” so I take the oil before bed to minimize any unpleasant effects. Taking the oil with a meal can also reduce the fish burp. If the fish burp is too much for you, opt for capsules (and freeze them!) instead.

– True Health Clinical Health Consultant Brook Oubre, MS, RD, CDE

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