When choosing fish oil pills, the most important question to be asking is: How safe is this product? Like all other fish products, fish oil pills are subject to risks of contamination. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that the FDA has issued statements asking us to limit the amount of fish we consume. Fish oils are under the same risk of contamination.
Why Aren’t All Fish Oil Pills Safe?
While advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to come up with omega-3 fish oil pills with extremely low risk of toxin contamination, many manufacturers still take short cuts with their safety measures. This is because ensuring the safety and quality of their fish oil pills cost these manufacturers a lot of money. Fish oil products that have undergone these safety and quality measures are referred to as pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills.
Why Not Just Buy Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil Pills?
Pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills are a molecularly-distilled fish oil product. Basically, this means that the fish oil in these products have gone through an intensive purification process, giving you a significantly lower risk of contamination. Also, pharmaceutical grade omega-3 fish oil pills have double the concentration of natural fish oils. They are a bit more expensive than natural fish oils, but that’s to be expected. There is always a premium to be paid for quality and safety.
Unfortunately, there is no regulation for the term ‘“pharmaceutical grade.” That means there is nothing to stop various unscrupulous companies to slap their products with the tag “pharmaceutical grade,” whether or not it is true.
The International Fish Oil Standards Program: The Cream Of The Crop
The International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) program came about when Nutrasource Diagnostics Inc. in Canada acknowledged the need for a certification program for fish oil. They argued that the current standards for fish oil safety were not only too different for the different health organizations worldwide, but also too lenient. The IFOS then put out its own set of stringent standards as to what constitutes a low enough level of toxins.
There are five parameters that the IFOS measures. These are:
- Passes All CRN/WHO Testing Categories
- Greater than 60% Omega-3 Concentration
- Oxidation Levels Less than 75% of CRN Standard
- PCB Levels Less than 50% of CRN Standard
- Dioxin Levels Less Than 50% of WHO Standard
These standards are the most rigorous in the world. Fish oil pills that are certified with five-star ratings from the IFOS are usually safe bets. They not only pass CRN and WHO standards, but they actually surpass them.
When choosing a fish oil pills supplement, look for the IFOS rating. This usually gives you a good idea on how safe the product is. You may also look at the testing results at the IFOS website to get a better understanding of just what is in your fish oil pills.