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Question: Are there any red flags to look for on the label when choosing a fish oil supplement?
Answer: Yes, there are some things to look out for on a fish oil label, as well labels of other omega-3 supplements, such as krill oil and algal oil. As discussed in our Review, avoid supplements that only list the total amount of oil, such as "fish oil," and do not list the amounts of the specific omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Products listing identical amounts of total fish oil per serving can vary widely in terms of the amounts EPA and DHA, depending on how concentrated they are.
A variety of terms found on fish or marine oil supplement labels can be misleading. For example, some products claim to be "pharmaceutical grade," but this term is meaningless because the FDA has not defined what would constitute a pharmaceutical grade fish oil product.
Of course, there are also issues that can’t be resolved just from looking at the label - like whether the product contains the omega-3 fatty acids it claims, doesn’t exceed contamination limits for PCBs, is fresh or stale, and whether an enteric coating releases ingredients at the right time – which is why ConsumerLab.com tests for all these issues.