How to spot a quality fish oil supplement

Supplementation can play a significant role in how you feel and perform in the gym and in life. But how can you spot a winning product from a money-wasting one? We asked the experts about what to look for in your fish oil supplement to ensure you’re hitting your omega-3 quotas with room to spare.

What are omega-3s?
The polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil supplements are a family of essential fatty acids that play an important role in the way the membranes of our cells function. ‘I like to call it a natural, life-long insurance plan. Omega-3 supplementation can help lower the risk of heart and metabolic diseases, along with improving brain and joint health,’ says Nutritionist, Trainer and Sports Scientist Rudy Mawer.

It also happens to be one of the fatty acids the body is unable to synthesise on its own, so it needs to be consumed via your diet. The problem? It’s nearly impossible to ingest the optimal levels through nutrition alone. ‘If you eat two to three portions of oily fish per day, you may be hitting the required dose,’ says Mawer.

Not overly practical and you’ll likely smash your fat macros. That’s where supplementation comes in.

Who needs to take a fish oil supplement?
Everyone and anyone

How much omega-3 do you need?
While recommendations by key health organisations vary, Co-Founder of Flex Success and Sports Nutritionist Dean McKillop says a lot of the research now points to needing about 2.4g of combined EPA and DHA (the two fatty acids that make up omega-3) per day.

‘Most standardised fish oil tablets are 1,000mg, which will yield anywhere between 500mg and 900mg of combined EPA and DHA, depending on the concentration of active ingredients,’ he says. This means you’ll need to take three to five tablets, depending on the product you choose.

What to look for in your omega-3 supplement
The levels of EPA and DHA in each tablet.

‘Cheaper brands will sell 1g of omega-3 with only 300mg to 400mg of combined EPA and DHA. In other words, only around 30 per cent of the tablet will have the crucial fatty acids,’ says Mawer.

Opt for higher quality supps, with at least 700mg of combined EPA and DHA, and make sure you check the use-by date.

‘Omega-3s are prone to going rancid. Once they go bad, they will have a foul smell and become less potent or even harmful,’ warns Nutritionist and female hormone specialist, Jenn Pike.

To learn more about a range of other supps and what to look for, read the full article in the December/January edition of STRONG Fitness Magazine Australia.

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About Katelyn Swallow 36 Articles
Katelyn Swallow is a journalist, editor and communications professional based in Perth. She is the Editor-in-Chief of STRONG Fitness Magazine Australia, the previous editor of Women's Health and Fitness magazine, and a regular contributor to STRONG in the US.