A Guide to Finding High Quality

There are some things that you need to know before you buy or take cod fish oil. Everyone can benefit from a daily omega3 supplement, but Atlantic Cod is not the best source of omega3s. Here’s a little shopping guide to help you find a high quality supplement.

The Atlantic Ocean is heavily polluted with mercury, dioxins and PCBs. Mercury accumulates in the liver and flesh of fish that swim in these waters. PCBs and dioxins are commonly found in oils derived from them. In recent years, numerous supplements were pulled from the store shelves, after the European Union passed tighter restrictions for contaminants.

It is possible to distill the oils, using molecular distillation, but manufacturers of cod fish oil rarely take that step. If you want the safest supplement, the source fish should be small like an anchovy or a hoki. Larger fish like cod, sharks and swordfish are higher on the food chain. Their bodies contain more contaminants.

Species that do not swim in the polluted North Atlantic are better choices. The cold waters separating New Zealand from Antarctica are the cleanest on the planet. That’s where hoki are found. But, regardless of how clean the ocean or how small the species, the oils should be molecularly distilled to further purify and concentrate the omega3 content.

At one time cod fish oil was the only choice for omega3 supplementation. It tasted so bad that manufacturers started adding artificial flavors, like lemon. Most manufacturers still add artificial flavorings. These flavors can mask the smell of rancid oils. Because of their short shelf-life, you need to be able to smell the oil, before taking it. Consuming rancid oils will make you very sick.

When the oils are encapsulated, there is no need to worry about rancidity, but cod fish oil is still not your best choice. Usually, the oils are expressed from the liver, rather than the flesh. They contain too much vitamin A, which can be toxic at high doses. They have too much EPA and not enough DHA.

EPA and DHA are two of the most important omega3 fatty acids. ALA is an omega3 found in plants and vegetable oils. Flaxseed supplements, for example, contain ALA.

The body can convert ALA to DHA, if EPA is present, but it will only convert a small amount. Research has shown that increasing ALA intake does not increase circulating blood levels of DHA. Low levels of DHA are associated with depression, heart disease and degenerative eye diseases.