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What to Look for in a High Quality Fish Oil Supplement

Article Summary

  • Indigenous cultures who consumed a diet rich high-fat foods and cholesterol have much lower rates of heart disease
  • The ratio of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s must be around 3:1
  • Soft gelatin capsules have the most concentrated form of EPA and DHA
  • Toxicological studies have found heavy metals, pesticides and PCB’s bioaccumulate in fish and contaminating fish oil supplements sold to the market

What is fish oil good for?

The popularity of ingesting fish oil supplements for health and well-being escalated after studies on indigenous cultures who consumed a diet rich high-fat foods and cholesterol. Greenland inuit, Turkish and Japanese diets have a strong culture for consuming high amounts of fish while also enjoying low rate of Coronary Artery disease - the most common cause of death in Western countries.

Coronary Artery disease is defined by a lack of blood supply to the heart, damaging the organ and causing heart attacks in patients - a disease that rarely affects those on the planet who consume the most fat and cholesterol. 

The study on indigenous cultures and the enormous body of research on Omega 3 fatty acids, reveal our genetic patterns have been established as an essential food that human beings evolved with and require for optimal health. 

Fish oil is protective of many organs throughout the body. Including the brain, eye health, the spleen, liver, blood vessels, lungs and the heart. Fish oil has been shown in nutritional research to decrease triacylglycerol levels, heart rate and blood pressure. A decrease in blood viscosity, platelet aggregation and homocysteine levels has also been supported by further research. 

An improvement in endothelial cell function (the cells that create a barrier between the blood vessels and the rest of the body tissues to transport blood) and plaque stabilization has also been shown. Animal studies have supported the conclusion that depletion of DHA from the retina and brain results in reduced eye function and worserned learning deficits. 

Signs of a Deficiency

Common signs of an Omega 3 deficiency include:
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Weight Gain
  • Heart Disease
  • Unhealthy Skin
  • Memory Loss
  • Low Immune Function
  • Fatigue
  • Eyesight Problems

The Golden Omega 3 and 6 ratio 3:1

Because we do not produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), arachidonic acid (ARA), or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in our bodies, we get these Omega 3 fatty acids from our diet alone. DHA can be found in fish or we can support our bodies synthesis of it from the precursor to DHA, a-linolenic acid (ALA), found in nuts. 

The precursor for ARA is dietary linoleicacid (LA), found in nuts, seeds, meat and cheeses. LA is an Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is abundant in most people’s diets from vegetable oils and processed food intake. 

Omega 6 oils usually come in the form cheap, widely used commercial varieties added to food products, such as canola and safflower oil. In perspective, we are more likely to consume too much LA than too little. Meanwhile, research has shown our intake of DHA is not enough to supply our body with even a maintenance level of Omega 3’s, harming health and well-being in the long term. 

It is essential to optimize our ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils to avoid the chronic illnesses that did not exist in past generations. From the introduction of processed food, this modern convenience has been mystifying and taking us further away from our natural diets than 100 years ago. This only makes the situation worse by saturating our body’s with an overabundance of Omega 6. To combat this, fish oil supplementation while limiting sources of Omega 6 is supportive to maintaining the correct ratio.

Ethyl Esters (EE) vs. Triglycerides (TG) 

TG’s and EE’s are two different types of fish oil manufactured to different standards. 

Ethyl Esters (EE)

EE’s are synthetic fats created during the processing of some fish oils following a process called esterification. The result is a product that has a higher amount of EPA and DHA. A semi-synthetic EE product is normally sold as concentrated fish oil.

The problem with EE is that our bodies are inefficient at metabolizing it. EE is 50 times more resistant to being metabolised than TG fish oil. Our body, as incredible as it is for this process, must reconvert EE back to TG to be transported to the blood and used by the organs appropriately.

Triglycerides (TG)

TGs are found in most foods as the molecular form of fat. Our Pro-life fish oil’s fats consist entirely of TGs and made up of three fatty acids linked to a molecule of glycerol.

The glycerol ‘backbone’ supports in stabilizing the fat molecules, preventing putrefaction (breakdown of molecules) and oxidation. This also safeguards the fish oil when being shipped, packaged and occupying a shelf before being consumed in addition to adding Vitamin E as a preservative.

TG’s are processed by the small intestine and the liver before entering the bloodstream. Another important factor to consider when choosing a fish oil supplement is the research literature has shown that TG’s are approximately 1.7 times more bioavailable are than EE’s, an interesting result considering EE is labelled as a high strength formula.

Find a Supplement that Follows Best Fish Oil Manufacturing Practices

Fish oil is made by extracting fish with food-grade ethanol and purified by molecular distillation to remove contaminants common in wild caught and farmed fish operations for soft capsules. Quality control authorities and researchers have taken gas liquid chromatography analysis of popular fish oil companies across Western countries. The analysis showed fish oil soft gels contained 32% high content of saturated fatty acids (myristic and palmitic acids). EPA ranged from 18% to 30% and DHA contents range from 12% to 20%. This depends on the brand name and manufacturing company of course.

Soft gelatin capsules, fish oil concentrate, refined fish oil, and ultra-refined fish oil differ from each other in purity and concentration of DHA and EPA, but a high-potency fish oil supplements contain 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA. To add some perspective, Pro-life’s fish oil sourced from sustainable sources and solft gel encapsulated in New Zealand provides an extraordinary 576mg of EPA and 384 mg of DHA per two tablets, making it a double strength formula.

Shop Pro-life:

Fish Oil 3200 formula $26.00 NZD

Omega 3 formula $10.00 NZD

Contamination Warnings

Many companies have been the culprit of selling fish oil supplements contaminated with inorganic mercury ion, Hg2+. By the time the fish oil has been extracted, Hg2+ has converted in to methylmercury in water and bioaccumulated in aquatic food chains. Large predatory fish species such as tuna, swordfish, shark, and whale are most likely to be contaminated.

Methylmercury is one of the biggest neurotoxins to the human body and is especially toxic to babies in utero who are extra sensitive to the toxic load of the mother. This is why Pro-life’s fish oil has every batch tested for mercury as well as lead levels. 

Toxicological studies inspected polychlorinated bipenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine (OC) pesticide levels in the tissues of stranded dolphins from New Zealand between 1999 and 2005. 

OC compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are both chemically and physically stable in the environment which also bioaccumulate in top marine predators. The bioaccumulation is why these toxins are so hazardous in our environment. 

The research presented alarmingly high levels of toxicity in some of the fish populations. OC compounds are known to be endocrine disrupting chemicals, interfering with hormone regulation for maintaining homeostasis and regulation of reproductive systems. The risk of immunosuppression, infectious disease, reproductive impairment and tumour growth is also increased. 


The deficiency of Omega 3 can be corrected with fish oil supplements but the contamination of marine life, an essential part of our diet, means it is critical to invest in a fish oil supplement that meets safety standard checks and is safe to ingest long term.


  1. Beneficial Effects of Fish Oil on Human Brain - Dr. Akhlaq A. Farooqui
  1. PCBs and organochlorine pesticides in Hector’s (Cephalorhynchus hectori hectori) and Maui’s (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) dolphins -

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