How to choose a fish oil supplement

How to choose a fish oil supplement

What should I look for when choosing a fish oil supplement? - Linda Starr

Supplements should contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), says Dorothy Bernet, a registered dietician with highly rated Healthy by Design Nutrition Specialists in Santa Monica. These are Omega 3 fatty acids that research shows can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Before taking a supplement, Bernet says to check with your doctor. "Fish oil supplements are contraindicated for people who take blood-thinners or aspirin daily," she notes. A doctor can also determine the best dosage, though 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams daily may work for healthy adults, Bernet says.

She suggests checking the bottle label to be sure the oil contains a high percentage of DHA and EPA, since those are the important Omega 3s. Check to see if the oil has been molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals and PCBs. Bernet suggests this test: Pour a few tablespoons in a cup or cut open a few capsules and freeze for at least 5 hours. "A true EPA/DHA concentrate will not freeze solid; it will be liquid or a little mushy," Bernet says.

Dr. Lisa Schwartz, an integrative medicine physician at highly rated Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, warns that fish-oil quality varies, since supplements aren't regulated like medicines. "[Look for oil from] companies that submit products for independent third-party testing," Schwartz says.

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