WHITE PLAINS, NY — November 20, 2001 — ConsumerLab.com, an independent evaluator of dietary supplements and nutrition products, released results today of its Product Review of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA & DHA) from Fish/Marine Oils. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease, reduce the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and menstrual cramping, as well as showing promise in the treatment of a number of other conditions. A concern with fish oil products has been potential contamination with mercury. Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor any other federal or state agency routinely tests these products for quality prior to sale. ConsumerLab.com purchased 20 dietary supplements containing EPA and/or DHA and tested them for their claimed levels of these ingredients as stated on the label, as well as for mercury contamination and evidence of decomposition.
Six of the 20 products tested failed to pass the review due to inadequate amounts of the essential fatty acid DHA, which ranged from 50% to 80% of what was stated on the label. Two of these products were also low in EPA, respectively containing 33% and 82% of their claimed amounts. Two of the products that failed actually had statements on their labels that their "potency" had been either "tested" or "verified." None of the twenty products showed evidence of decomposition and none were found to contain detectable levels of mercury (less than 1.5 parts per billion (ppb)). By comparison, mercury levels in fish often range from 10 ppb to 1,000 ppb.
"The good news is that these fish oil supplements did not appear to pose a risk of mercury poisoning — a risk that can be very real when routinely consuming certain fish, such as swordfish and shark. The bad news is that a number of products had significantly less DHA and/or EPA than claimed," said Tod Cooperman M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. "This could certainly reduce the effectiveness of products. It raises the issue of whether people who are taking omega-3 supplements to prevent or treat heart disease, for example, are getting an effective dose of DHA and EPA from their supplements." Dr. Cooperman added, "If someone is concerned about getting a certain amount of DHA or EPA, it would seem prudent to stick to those products that passed the tests."
The complete list of products that passed the review, as well as ConsumerTips™ on buying and using EPA and DHA acids are now available to ConsumerLab.com's online subscribers at www.consumerlab.com. General findings and examples of approved products are also available free from the Web site. Similar information is available online from ConsumerLab.com's Product Reviews for Asian and American ginseng, calcium, chondroitin, CoQ10, creatine, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, iron, MSM, multivitamins/multiminerals, nutrition bars, phytoestrogens (soy and red clover isoflavones), SAM-e, saw palmetto, St. John's wort, valerian and vitamins C and E. Other Product Reviews scheduled for release in coming months include B vitamins and nutrition beverages and powders. ConsumerLab.com's Guide to Buying the Best Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements is scheduled for publication next year. To further assist consumers, ConsumerLab.com licenses its flask-shaped CL Seal of Approved Quality (see The CL Seal) to manufacturers for use on products that have passed its evaluations.
ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in White Plains, New York. It has no ownership from or interest in companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. Subscription to Consumerlab.com's Product Reviews is available online. Parties interested in purchasing comprehensive Product Review Technical Reports, licensing content, or requesting testing of additional products may contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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