SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA – February 11, 2016 – Labdoor, the supplement testing and rating service, announces that their Fish Oil Rankings have been revised. Given reasons to believe that some fish oil manufacturers are artificially inflating the perceived concentration and quality of their products, Labdoor found it necessary to investigate the extent of this issue in its current rankings.
Fish oil quality is largely determined by its concentration of EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid), unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids that most strongly contribute to fish oil’s proposed health benefits. A product with a higher concentration of EPA+DHA will be more potent - a consumer will gain relatively more health benefits for the amount they take. The image below also shows that a product like that in Figure 2, with a higher concentration of EPA+DHA, will have a lower proportion of other fish fats, inactive ingredients, and impurities compared to a product with a lower concentration of EPA+DHA, like that in Figure 1.
Multiple extraction and/or distillation steps to purify key active ingredients from crude fish oil make the production cost of fish oil supplements directly related to its final omega-3 concentration. Often, this also obliges manufacturers to sell their higher concentration products to consumers at higher prices.
Labdoor’s rankings at their core are intended to reward high-quality products with minimal excipients and contaminants. Labdoor found that even if manufacturers were accurate in their label claims for omega-3 fatty acids, serving size claims make products susceptible to economic adulteration in which manufacturers can source cheaper, lower-concentration fish oil and simply fill larger capsules to compensate. Then, labels can falsely claim smaller serving sizes, which makes products seem like they have higher EPA+DHA concentrations. Figure 3, above, shows how this is accomplished. A label, for example, could claim that a product contains 800 mg of EPA+DHA in a total liquid mass of 1000 mg per serving size (80% concentration), even if the product actually has a total liquid mass of 1250 mg (64% concentration).
In light of economic adulteration suspicions, Labdoor directly measured each product’s total liquid mass per serving internally. While product serving size claims were found to be somewhat inaccurate or incomplete, quality rankings stayed relatively consistent for most products after the update. The few products that experienced more significant ranking changes were ones that had proportionately more non-omega-3 materials hidden from their labels. Barlean’s Organic Oils Omega Swirl Fish Oil fell most in the rankings, dropping 12 spots from #41 to #53, Life Extension Super Omega-3 was second, falling 10 spots from #18 to #28, and NOW Foods Ultra Omega-3 Fish Oil was third, falling 7 spots from #23 to #30.
This update is an example of Labdoor’s commitment to generating rankings with the most accurate methods possible, thereby penalizing products with misrepresented claims and supporting honest, high-quality products within the industry. Moving forward, Labdoor’s testing and re-testing of fish oil products will incorporate measured total liquid mass per serving in its concentration calculations, efficacy scores, and quality and value algorithms.