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Are Your Omega-3 Fish Oil Pills Healthy or Harmful?

Rancidity is measured by the amount of oxidation of the oil in the supplement. As supplements become more oxidized, the nutritional benefits delivered to the consumer are reduced.

(fish, krill, etc.), omega-3 supplements — sometimes labelled as fish oil — are often taken because of research that suggests they may provide health benefits.

“Our study suggests many of these supplements are not fresh — and thus may not provide a potential health benefit,” said Leigh A. Frame, Associate Professor of clinical research and leadership at George Washington University in the US.


Higher levels of omega-3 have been associated with a wide range of benefits to multiple organs, including the brain and eyes, but the most common reason for its popularity with consumers is to help the cardiovascular system. The researchers conducted six years of tests on 72 of the most popular brands of omega-3 supplements, using the recommended rancidity limits that are voluntarily set by GOED, a global trade group that represents omega-3 manufacturers.

Hidden Reality behind Flavored Fish Oil Supplements

The results, published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, found a total of 45 percent of flavored and unflavored supplements tested positive for rancidity, with 32 percent of flavored supplements testing positive and 13 percent of unflavored pills.

However, added flavoring can mask the rancidity of supplements. While oxidation is present in the flavored supplements, indicating there is a positive level of rancidity. Frame said the amount of oxidation isn’t known because of the flavoring compounds themselves.

“Flavoring is potentially masking the freshness of omega-3 supplements in two ways,” said lead author Jacob Hands, medical student at the varsity’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. If fish oil supplements are fresh, they won’t have a fishy taste or smell, he explained.

“Flavoring can mask those aspects but also makes it difficult for researchers to determine the level of oxidation and the quality of the supplement.” While there are third party companies who test vitamins and supplements to verify a label’s purity of its substances, even brands that are tested cannot be guaranteed of freshness, Frame explained.

Reference :

  1. A Multi-Year Rancidity Analysis of 72 Marine and Microalgal Oil Omega-3 Supplements – (

Source: IANS

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