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4 Things to Look for in an Omega-3 Supplement

4 Things to Look for in an Omega-3 Supplement

4 Things to Look for in an Omega-3 Supplement

Supplementing with Omega-3s is one of the most beneficial and convenient additions you can make to boost your overall health but not all Omega-3s are created equal. Here are the 4 main things to look for when choosing an Omega-3 supplement.

EPA and DHA 

The source of omega-3 fatty acids should come from EPA and DHA. Although another form, ALA is available, usually in plant-based supplements, it is far less superior. The body uses omega-3 fatty acids in the forms EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA in the body, however, the efficiency of this conversion is about 8% from ALA to EPA and 0-4% to DHA in healthy young men. The ratio of EPA to DHA will differ depending on specific patient needs. 

Third-Party Tested 

Third party testing means that another company has verified the product after testing it in a lab. Fish oils are one of the most important supplements to have third party tested, for a number of reasons. If not processed under specific conditions, fish oils will quickly oxidize, creating a rancid oil which is actually inflammatory to the body and can promote disease and accelerate aging. Third party testing also ensures purity of the product which is critical for omega-3 fatty acid supplements to confirm that toxins such as heavy metals or PCBs are removed from the product.

Triglyceride Form  

Omega-3 fatty acids are available in triglyceride or ethyl ester form. When choosing your fish oil, make sure that you choose the triglyceride form. Ethyl ester forms of the oil make them more susceptible to oxidation, having a negative impact on health. Secondly, the ability for the body to absorb and use the omega-3 fatty acid is decreased in the ethyl ester form. This form is also associated with increased side effects such as fish burps, and gastrointestinal symptoms. The triglyceride form is much more stable, bioavailable and has decreased side effects. 

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Cold Distillation 


As mentioned above, we want to avoid oxidation of oils. When oils are heated, the fatty acid becomes damaged, as well as oxidized. Therefore, when selecting a fish oil, choose one which has a cold distillation process. This means the oil’s integrity is kept through the process and oxidation remains low. Secondly, the cold distillation prevents the fishy taste and smell associated with a fish oil which has gone through fractional distillation. 

About the Author

Dr. Maille Devlin

Dr. Maille Devlin, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and corporate wellness consultant practicing in virtually for patients all across Ontario as well as in person in the east end of Toronto. Dr. Devlin has a clinical focus in: weight loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hormonal issues, stress management and healthy aging. She considers true health not only the absence of disease, but rather a state where an individual is thriving both physically and mentally.

Dr. Devlin believes that education and preventative medicine are the greatest steps toward wellness and is focused on empowering individuals to take the appropriate steps towards being their own health advocate. Dr. Devlin uses a combination of dietary changes, herbal medicine, supplements and lifestyle counselling to treat patients.

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