Cod liver, wild salmon or krill oil – it’s easy to get dizzied by the myr­iad of fish oil va­ri­eties in the sup­ple­ment aisle. We’re de­mys­ti­fy­ing the most com­mon terms and re­veal­ing the five key con­sid­er­a­tions in choos­ing the most ben­e­fi­cial fish oil for you


Learn how to choose a high-qual­ity fish oil that con­tains the right dosage for your health needs.

You prob­a­bly know by now that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are good for you: They’re ex­cel­lent for your ticker, a boon to brain health and help main­tain vis­ual acu­ity. The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion both rec­om­mend reg­u­lar fish con­sump­tion for its fatty acid con­tent. And our very own in-house nu­tri­tion guru, Jonny Bow­den, PhD, calls fish oil “one of the most anti-in­flam­ma­tory com­pounds in the world.”

If you are not get­ting at least two serv­ings of fish per week, have a con­di­tion such as arthri­tis or heart dis­ease, or are at risk for mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, you might con­sider tak­ing a sup­ple­ment. Not all fish oil sup­ple­ments are cre­ated equal, how­ever; they vary widely by type, qual­ity as well as bal­ance of fatty acids. Choos­ing a fish oil doesn’t have to be rocket science, though. We’ve bro­ken down the va­ri­eties you’re most likely to see in the sup­ple­ment aisle and five key things to con­sider when se­lect­ing a brand for you.

1. Look at the va­ri­ety of fish and how it’s sourced. When a prod­uct is la­beled āsK oil, itÚs t\pi­call\ a blend oI more tKan one āsK Ø usu­all\ smaller āsK sucK as an­cKovies, sar­dines and mack­erel. $ āsK oil blend is af­ford­able and has the most re­searcK around its beneāts, but itÚs not tKe onl\ op­tion.

Cod liver oil con­tains vi­ta­mins A and D in ad­di­tion to omega 3 Iatt\ acids tKat sup­port brain health. Krill oil has gained trac­tion in re­cent \ears botK Ior its sus­tain­abilit\ and its bioavail­abilit\, ac­cord­ing to -osK $xe, '10, &1S, '&, co-founder of An­cient 1utri­tion and Iounder oI “Krill oil is con­sid­ered one of the most sus­tain­able sources of omega-3 Iatt\ acids, as $tlantic krill are among the most abun­dant

an­i­mal species in tKe world,Ý ex­plains Dr. Axe. He notes that there are lim­ited stud­ies on bioavail­abilit\, but a re­view oI stud­ies con­cluded tKat ke\ essential Iatt\ acids are bet­ter ab­sorbed from krill oil wKen com­pared to āsK oil. $notKer va­riet\ \ou migKt see on the shelves is wild salmon oil, also ricK in omega 3 Iatt\ acids, and since itÚs sourced from wild — not farmed — salmon, itÚs con­sid­ered to be more sus­tain­able than some other va­ri­eties.

And while krill and wild salmon are of­ten noted to be sus­tain­abl\ sourced, it does­nÚt mean tKat reg­u­lar āsK oil is not. Look for va­ri­eties tKat state tKe\ are sus­tain­abl\ caugKt, or de­note a ge­ograpKic lo­ca­tion where sus­tain­able āsKing is man­dated, sucK as 1or­we­gian or $laskan caugKt āsK.

2. Know the dif­fer­ence be­tween high EPA and DHA for­mu­las. The two ma­jor Iatt\ acids Iound in āsK are eicos­apen­taenoic acid (3$ and do­cosaKex­aenoic acid '+$ Ø and wKile tKe\ botK pro­vide beneāts, you may choose a dif­fer­ent ra­tio oI one over tKe otKer de­pend­ing on your needs. /au­rel Ster­ling, 5', &'1, na­tional ed­u­ca­tor Ior &arl­son /abs, rec­om­mends opt­ing Ior a KigK (3$ Ior­mu­la­tion Ior sup­port­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar, joint and skin health. A KigK '+$ Ior­mu­la­tion, sKe sug­gests, t\pi­call\ would be suited to women who are preg­nant or breast­feed­ing and Ior cKil­drenÚs brain and vi­sion development. ,t could also be uti­lized for sup­port­ing cog­ni­tive Iunc­tion, nerve KealtK and Ior vi­sion. 5emem­ber tKat most āsK oils tend to Kave more nat­u­rall\ oc­cur­ring (3$ tKan '+$, but most com­pa­nies now oIIer Ior­mu­la­tions tKat Kave higher con­cen­tra­tions of one or the other.

3. Re­view third­party rat­ings. Qual­ity is per­haps the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing a āsK oil × a lower Tualit\ brand tKat uses āllers or ad­di­tives or tKat ma\ not be at peak fresh­ness may ac­tu­ally do more harm than good. Ü0an\ āsK oils on tKe mar­ket to­day are con­tam­i­nated with dan­ger­ous com­pounds sucK as mer­cur\, pes­ti­cide residues and hy­dro­genated oils,Ý ac­cord­ing to 'r. $xe. “They can also go ran­cid Tuickl\, wKicK can cause an

un­pleas­ant taste and can even be harm­ful to your health.” But you don’t have to weed through brands for fresh­ness and pu­rity your­self – there are third-party or­ga­ni­za­tions that do the leg­work for you. The In­ter­na­tional Fish Oil Stan­dards Pro­gram (IFOS), for ex­am­ple, rates brands on a āve star s\stem and takes into con­sid­er­a­tion things like omega-3 con­cen­tra­tion, ox­i­da­tion (fresh­ness) and con­tent of heavy met­als and other tox­ins like PCBs and diox­ins. We rec­om­mend us­ing a brand witK a āve star rat­ing.

4. Get the dosage right.

Keep in mind that if you’re tak­ing āsK oil Ior a speciāc con­di­tion, you’ll likely need a higher dose than if you’re tak­ing it for gen­eral health. Ac­cord­ing to Ster­ling, a good place to start is 1 to 2 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids, 1 gram for gen­eral health and 2 grams for speciāc KealtK con­cerns sucK as an in­flam­ma­tor\ or car­dio­vas­cu­lar con­di­tion. There are some cases where, she notes, you might even go as high as 4 grams, such as in the case of treat­ing high triglyc­eride lev­els, but al­ways check with your doc­tor when you are con­sid­er­ing higher doses, es­pe­cially if you’re on other med­i­ca­tions such as blood thin­ners. Note that these dosages are for com­bined EPA, DHA and other omega-3s, so when you’re look­ing at the la­bel, add up the amount of EPA, DHA and other omega-3s for the to­tal com­bined amount in the prod­uct.

5. Con­sider the full pack­age. %ecause āsK oils can easil\ go ran­cid, Dr. Axe rec­om­mends opt­ing for a va­ri­ety that con­tains an­tiox­i­dants to keep the prod­uct fresh, such as as­tax­an­thin, which is nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring in both krill and wild salmon oil. “This is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant be­cause it helps sta­bi­lize the oil and keeps it from go­ing ran­cid to en­sure your prod­uct is safe and healthy,” says Dr. Axe. While a reg­u­lar āsK oil blend ma\ not Kave a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring an­tiox­i­dant such as as­tax­an­thin, many com­pa­nies will add an an­tiox­i­dant or a blend of an­tiox­i­dants to pre­serve the oil. And don’t for­get that when it comes to any sup­ple­ment, you’ll want to con­sider not only what’s in it, but also what’s not in it: Fillers, ad­di­tives or al­ler­gens such as gluten and soy should all be avoided and could be an in­di­ca­tion of a lower-qual­ity prod­uct, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Axe.

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