Most people get fed-up with the marketing hype centered around fish oil and omega-3 supplements. Depending on your perspective, choosing a supplement is either super easy or ridiculously complicated. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of brands to choose from. In fact, it’s one of the most frequently asked questions we get.
What’s the difference in omega-3 brands?
It all boils down to quality. Figuring out which brand is better is normally just a matter of spending a few minutes doing a little investigative research online.
Here is a quick and easy checklist I run through to help me evaluate a fish oil brand:
- Does it have a 5-star IFOS rating?
- Does the label clearly tell you what form it’s in?
- Is the cost per unit reasonable?
- Is there anything weird in the ingredient list?
- Is it affordable, overall?
- Is there a return policy?
What I typically do is search for the brand name online. First, I try to locate the manufacturer’s direct website. Sometimes this is not always an easy task…I’ll settle for a retailer’s website if I can’t find one. The product info on the site is nice, but what I look for is the actual supplement label.
Normally, I can answer most items on my checklist just by looking at the label. If not, I tend to get skeptical. After all — what do they have to hide?
Now, let’s ‘unpack’ that checklist…what exactly are we looking for?
These IFOS stars tell you about purity. It’s a matter of personal preference I suppose, but taking potentially contaminated nutrition supplements seems like a bad idea to me.
I’m looking for ethyl-ester or natural triglyceride form because it tells you how easily absorbed the fish oil is. If the label doesn’t say — I pass. Not interested in a wild-goose hunt, thank you very much.
Cost per unit
Unit prices are helpful; unit prices based on actual omega-3 is better. Who cares if the inactive-ingredients are cheap? This step will get you if you don’t pay attention to the form of omega-3s. Absorption rates fluctuate from as much as 24% to 70%; make sure you’re not comparing apples to oranges here.
Speaking of inactive components, I’ve seen some pretty strange ones. Vitamin E is ok, but that’s about all I want to see besides the omega-3s. Don’t just think about ingredients inside, either. Omega-3s are prone to spoilage, especially when they’re exposed to direct sunlight. I look for opaque (white) packaging
You can find a high quality supplement for around $20. I’m still a student so this is my personal budget-friendly limit. Yours may be different, but it’s best to decide on a budget up-front to avoid spending large sums of money.
Money-back guarantees are gold. This is the ultimate risk-free option, and for me, it’s a deal breaker. With so many choices on the market, having a decent return policy gives you a chance to hedge your bets a little.
I hope this checklist helps. Let me know what strategies help you decide on a fish oil by leaving a comment!