How Products Were Selected:Products were selected to represent those popular among readers of Consumerlab.com and commonly available nationally in the U.S. and Canada. ConsumerLab.com purchased products on the open market through retail stores, on-line retailers, and direct sales companies. Products were not accepted directly from manufacturers.
Testing Methods:Omega-3 marine oil products were tested in one or more independent laboratories for the following:
- Quantification of omega-3 fatty acids in products within the scope of GOED voluntary monograph version 8.1 (2022): Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and total omega-3 fatty acids defined as Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3 n-3), Stearidonic acid / Moroctic acid (SDA; C18:4 n-3), Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA; C20:4 n-3), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; C20:5 n-3), Heneicosapentaenoic acid (C21:5 n-3), Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; C22:5 n-3) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:6 n-3) (USP Chapter <401> "Omega-3 fatty acids determination and profile." and EP 2.4.29). Not applicable to powders, gummies, emulsions, oils containing phospholipids, glycolipids, wax esters, products diluted with other types of oils not characterized for a high content of omega-3s, or Oils with a total omega-3 content below 10% wt/wt (GOED 2022).
- Krill oil and other types of omega-3 oils and formulations outside the scope of the GOED voluntary monograph version 8.1 (2022): Quantification of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and total omega-3 fatty acids defined as Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3 n-3), Stearidonic acid / Moroctic acid (SDA; C18:4 n-3), Eicosatetraenoic acid omega-3 (ETA; C20:4 n-3), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; C20:5 n-3), Heneicosapentaenoic acid (C21:5 n-3), Docosapentaenoic acid omega-3 (DPA; C22:5 n-3) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:6 n-3). Applicable to krill oil, products diluted with other types of oils not characterized for a high content of omega-3s or Oils 2 with a total omega-3 content below 10% wt/wt. Microencapsulated products, gummies, emulsions, oils containing phospholipids, wax esters or glycolipids (AOAC 991.39, AOCS Ce 1b-89).
- Total Phospholipid content in krill oil by 31P-NMR, % w/w (FCC-9).
- Percent Phosphatidylcholine in krill oil by 31P-NMR, % of total phospholipids (FCC-9).
- Astaxanthin esters in krill oil by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (DSC-2022) or spectrophotometric analysis (FCC-9).
- Lead, cadmium, total arsenic by ICP/MS or other appropriate methods determined by CL. Determination of mercury using a cold vapor technique.
- Peroxide (PV) and p-anisidine (pAV) values and calculation of TOTOX value for flavored and unflavored omega-3 oil products and krill by AOCS method (CD 8b-90 & Cd18-90 respectively) or other appropriate methods determined by CL.
- Disintegration of enteric coated formulations using the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) <2040> methodology.
ConsumerLab.com may modify or use other appropriate test methods if necessary to test special product formulations.
Identities of products were not disclosed to laboratories performing the testing.
Passing Score:*To achieve a "Pass" in the testing, a product had to:
- Contain 100% of the claimed amounts of EPA, DHA, total omega 3 fatty acids, total fatty acids or other fatty acids and not exceed the greater of 150% of any of these amounts or 75 mg per serving above any of these amounts.
- Krill oil: Must have a total phospholipid content of 28 - 52% (w/w) in which the phosphatidylcholine content must be 60 - 90% by 31 P-NMR analyses (FCC 8).
- Contain 100% and not exceed 150% of the claimed amount of astaxanthin esters in krill oil.
- Contain less than 0.05 ppm of lead (GOED 2022). Pet products in chew or tablet form will have an additional 0.05 ppm (50 ppb) allowance. Contain less than 0.1 ppm each of cadmium and mercury (GOED2022).
- Contain less than 0.1 ppm of inorganic arsenic (GOED 2022 limit for inorganic arsenic). However, inorganic arsenic will only be checked when a product is found to contain more than 10 mcg total arsenic per daily serving (based on EPA limit and state of New Jersey limit in 1 liter of water).
- Unflavored fish and algal oil products: Have a peroxide value (PV) of no more than 5 meq/kg, a p-anisidine value (pAV) of no more than 20 and a TOTOX value of no more than 26 (calculated as (2 x PV) + pAV) (GOED 2022).
- Omega-3 oils with colorants (including astaxanthin in krill) or flavorings (such as lemon) are given an "NA" (not applicable) for PV if it exceeds 10 meq/kg, and NA for pAV if it exceeds 30, and an NA for TOTOX if it exceeds 26, but can receive a "Partial Pass" for freshness if PV does not exceed 10 meq/kg. A product can receive a full Pass for freshness if PV does not exceed 10 meq/kg, pAV does not exceed 30, and TOTOX does not exceed 26.
- If applicable to the product, it must meet recommended USP <2040> parameters of disintegration for enteric coated formulations.
- Be in compliance with FDA labeling requirements.