Buying Omega-3 Supplements
What to look for when buying omega-3 supplements
Type of fatty acid
Look for omega-3s from marine sources
Amount of fatty acid
Look for the amount of EPA and DHA per serving [see How to Read a Supplement Label]. Many products list other omega-3s on the label; look for EPA and DHA.
Choose products that meet or exceed the international GOED standard for purity and are guaranteed by independent or 3rd-party testing.
The amount of EPA and DHA can vary from 200-700 mg per capsule or serving. A higher concentration of EPA and DHA allows you to consume more of the health-promoting omega-3 in fewer capsules or teaspoons.
How to Read a Supplement Label
Follow these steps to make sure that you are getting enough EPA/DHA from your supplement.
- Find the recommended Serving Size or dosage in number of capsules or amount of liquid – omega-3/fat/lipids per serving or per capsule.
- Find the amount of EPA and DHA in each serving or capsule.
- Find the amount of EPA/DHA in relation to the amount of fish oil/fat/lipids.
Note: The amount of EPA and DHA is usually in milligrams per gram and is different from the amount of fish oil per serving.
Examples of omega-3 content labeling
- Serving Size: 2 softgels
- Total omega-3: 2g (2000mg)
- EPA: 800mg
- DHA: 400mg
The total omega-3s and EPA/DHA shows a difference of 800mg, which consists of other fatty acids. Each softgel therefore contains:
- EPA: 400mg
- DHA: 200mg
- Total of 600mg EPA/DHA
- Front label says: 1200mg Fish oil
- Back label says: EPA + DHA is 360mg
There is only 360 mg of EPA/DHA in a 1200mg omega-3 capsule, meaning you would need to increase the intake to at least two capsules to get the recommended daily amount of EPA/DHA.
- 2 500 mg softgel capsules
- Total omega-3 for 2 capsules: 600mg
- DHA: 90mg
- EPA: 430mg
The difference, 80 mg consists of other fatty acids.
This also means that one capsule equals EPA+DHA of 520mg divided by two, which equals 260mg per capsule. You would therefore need the 2 capsules to get the daily recommended dose of EPA/DHA fatty acids.
The Difference Between Products
With highly concentrated EPA/DHA, fewer capsules are needed to achive the same health benefits.