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03.Omega-3 supplements tested

Brand / product (in order of cost per dose within categories) Bottle size (number of capsules) Maximum recommended daily dose (number of capsules) Maximum recommended daily dose as % of suggested dietary target for men (610 mg / day) Maximum recommended daily dose as % of suggested dietary target for women (430 mg / day) Cost / maximum dose ($)
Max. recommended daily dose provides the suggested dietary target for omega-3
Bioglan Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000 400 3 148 209 0.10
Amcal Natural Fish Oil 200 3 148 209 0.15
Greenridge Wild Salmon Oil 1000 300 3 148 209 0.20 (B)
Cenovis Natural Oils Fish Oil 1000 mg with Omega 3 180 3 148 209 0.25
Nature’s Way Fish Oil 1000 mg 200 3 148 209 0.28
Golden Glow Fish Oil + Ginkgo 120 2 74 (A) 105 0.42
Herron Fish Oil 1000 mg 60 3 148 209 0.45
Nature’s Own Odourless Omega 3 Ultra 60 1 82 (A) 117 0.47
Nature’s Way Extra Strength Fish Oil 1200 mg 160 3 177 251 0.47
Golden Glow Deep Sea Fish Oil 60 3 148 209 0.5
Blackmores Fish Oil 1000 90 3 148 209 0.53
Nature’s Own Omega 3 Fish Oil + Ginkgo 3000 90 2 74 (A) 105 0.55
Nature’s Way Brain & Memory Omega 3 Fish Oil 60 2 98 140 0.57
Blackmores Optimal Health Omega Daily 90 2 197 279 0.67
Nature’s Way One a Day Fish Oil Double Strength 60 2 197 279 0.9
Blackmores Brain Health Omega Brain 60 2 197 279 1
Max. recommended daily dose provides less than the suggested dietary target for omega-3 for men & women
Bioglan One-A-Day Super Fish Oil Concentrated 50 1 45 64 0.50
Eye Q 180 2 39 56 0.77
Efamol Efalex (D) 160 3 50 (D) 71 (D) 0.79
NeuroSpark 90 2 52 74 1.00
 

Table notes


(A) The samples we tested were oxidised with peroxide values significantly greater than the limit set by the TGA.
(B) The maximum recommended daily dose does not provide the suggested dietary target for omega-3 for men.
(C) The price we paid in March 2008.
(D) The manufacturer has since informed us that this product is intended primarily for children. Other Efamol products formulated specifically to meet adult daily requirements are available. 

  • Suggested dietary target (SDT) for omega-3 The Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) suggests a dietary target for longchain omega-3 fatty acids of 610 mg/day for men and 430 mg/day for women.
  • Maximum recommended daily dose as % of SDT This is the maximum number of capsules recommended per day, as stated on the product label, as a percentage of the SDT.
  • Cost per maximum dose This is based on the maximum recommended daily dose on the label and the recommended retail price, as provided by the manufacturer, unless noted otherwise.

Our findings

  • Four products give you less than the suggested dietary target for omega-3, even if you take the maximum recommended daily dose.    
  • Another three provided the suggested dietary target for women, but not for men if taken at the maximum recommended daily dose.
  • The majority of products contained more DHA and/or EPA than claimed on the label. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requires that the content of the active ingredient in each capsule is not less than 92.5% and not more than 107.5% of the stated content. But a proposed change to the standard for fish oil capsules will simply require them to contain a minimum of 90% of the label claim for each — EPA and DHA with no maximum limit.
  • Two products had peroxide values higher than the TGA specifications for fish oil, indicating spoilage — despite having a minimum of 12 months before their expiry date (see the table). The freshness of the oil is important because rancid fish oils have an extremely unpleasant smell and also may not be as effective.
  • Nature's Own Odourless Omega-3 Ultra contained significantly less EPA than claimed on the label, and one sample of Neurospark that we analysed contained significantly less DHA. This sample was heavily oxidised but a second sample (from further down the bottle) was less oxidised (but still well beyond the TGA limit) and contained the amount of DHA claimed on the label. Neurospark sent us test results that showed their product to be less oxidised and meeting the amount of DHA claimed on the label.
  • It can cost you anything from 10 cents to more than $2 per day to get enough omega-3s. The table above shows which products offer the best value for money.

We informed the manufacturers of our findings.

 

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