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Should I be concerned about contaminants like mercury in fish or fish oil supplements?

Some fish may contain higher level of environmental contaminants because of their natural environment. These contaminants, such as mercury, PCBs(polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins are likely more present in fish meat than fish oil supplements.

The benefits of fish consumption far outweigh the potential risks when the amount of fish eaten is within the recommendations established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  As a matter of fact, the FDA and EPA recently recommended that pregnant women and children eat more fish due to its health benefits.

Reputable omega-3 dietary supplements manufacturers purify the oil to reduce the level of environmental contaminants in their finished products. Before the supplements are commercially released, the fish oil is tested to ensure it meets the GOED industry standard for contaminant levels.

Can you consume too much Omega-3?


There are individual differences in effect and a chat with your doctor is a good idea – in relation to blood clotting in particular.

How much omega-3s are in fish oil capsules?

Fish oil capsules are recommended if you are not consuming enough omega-3s in your diet.

Omega-3 supplements may be derived from either oily fish or microalgae.

It is best to look for supplements with the highest EPA and DHA content.

When a fish oil capsule states it contains 1000mg of fish oil on the back label, it does not necessarily mean you are consuming 1000mg of the essential fatty acids – EPA and DHA.

It is important to check the label as it should state the amount each capsule contains of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). These amounts added together provide the level of long chain omega-3s that is in each capsule. From there you can work out how many capsules you need each day to reach the suggested target.


How do I select a high-quality omega-3 supplement?
  1. The Serving Size is indicated on the label. This is the amount needed to be taken in order obtain the amount of omega-3s, EPA and DHA listed on the label. Serving size may often be more than one capsule or softgel.
  2. The amounts of EPA and DHA are listed here. EPA and DHA are associated with different health benefits, so it is important that manufacturers clearly identify how much each serving contains. The amount of EPA and DHA in a supplement is generally less than the total amount of omega-3s. For example, some packaging will feature “Fish Oil 1000mg” but this describes the amount of total fish oil in the product and not the specific levels of EPA and DHA. For some health concerns, practitioners recommend patients take an omega-3 supplement that provides a specific level of EPA, DHA or both.
  3. This list contains all of the ingredients contained in the product.

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