Omega-3 Supplements: Are Yours Contaminated?

Three small glass bowls filled with omega-3 supplements
Omega-3 supplements tout many amazing health benefits, including increased cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, and potentially even improved mental health.

But a new report from ConsumerLab.com, an independent tester of health and nutritional products, has discovered that many omega-3 capsules don’t include all the nutrients they claim to, are loaded with extra fat, and may be contaminated with levels of carcinogens that exceed EPA standards.

“Our analysis found problems with roughly 31% of omega-3 supplements,” says Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com.

Among the 35 products tested, four contained 20 to 30% less omega-3 than the label indicated, and one included spoiled fish oil. Another product that claimed just 1 milligram of fat actually contained 1,000 milligrams.

“For the first time, we also found omega-3 products contaminated with PCBs,” says Dr. Cooperman. PCBs are man-made, carcinogenic compounds that are found in almost all fish products, and although every supplement tested contained some PCBs, two contained levels deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

What To Do…

But don’t give up on Omega-3, says Dr. Cooperman. As mentioned earlier, past research has shown the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA offer a load of health benefits, so if you’re not getting enough omega-3s in your diet, then supplements still make sense.

Dr. Cooperman recommends the omega-3 supplements offered by Swanson ($6.49 for 100 softgels, SwansonVitamins.com), and Vitacost ($10.43 for 120, Vitacost.com) as safe, low-cost options.

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