How Clean is your Fish Oil?

Sep 26th 2023

Did you know that the process of catching a fish and processing the oil to the point where it can be put in a capsule takes well over a YEAR?

The Journal of Nutritional Science reported in November 2015 that 50% of omega-3 fatty acid supplements purchased by researchers in Canada failed tests for freshness and exceeded limits for oxidation. Here's an example overview of the process:

  • After fish are caught, the oil is collected and sent to huge distribution centers in Asia or the Netherlands.
  • Next, the oil is loaded into tankers, transported to the North Atlantic, and pumped into another tank.
  • The new tank is then transported to Norway, where it is processed into a concentrate and distributed into barrels.
  • Afterward, it is shipped to US markets.
  • Those barrels are then sent to manufacturers, which send them to a facility to have the oil put into capsule form.
  • Large quantities of these capsules are shipped back to the manufacturer, where they are put into individual bottles.
  • Finally, these bottles are available to be sold to the public.

Fish oil is highly sensitive to air, temperature, and light. Over time, there is a quantifiable and measurable degradation of nutrients and oxidation/rancidity levels, but there is also a non-quantifiable degradation of the "aliveness" of the raw materials. For example, at harvest time, an apple is bursting with nutrients, life factors, co-factors, enzymes, and more that degrade over time; fish oils are the same way.

Brands like Nordic NaturalsVital Nutrients and Omega Nutrition have a philosophy of purity and bioavailability; most professional supplement brands have facilities that dramatically minimize shipping/transportation time. The fish are caught, and their oils are processed a short distance from where they are harvested, eliminating vulnerability to rancidity. They also harvest smaller fish like anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, which don't have long-term exposure to mercury and other environmental contaminants.

Fish Oil Soft Gel Capsules, Close Up

With over 10,000 published studies in the last three decades, EPA and DHA from fish oil are among the most researched natural ingredients available and have a long history of safety and efficacy.

Omega Embrace by CHI4Health is a high-concentration fish oil sourced from waters off the Chilean coast. As the world’s least industrialized coastline, these cold, fresh waters provide the cleanest, most sustainable source of fish in the world. Omega Embrace by CHI4Health provides a total of 820 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per soft gel as natural triglycerides, the preferred form with superior absorption.

An organization called GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA) sets quality standards for the industry, and another industry marker called TOTOX, the total oxidation value, describes the total oxidation to which "oil has been exposed;" it reflects the levels of contaminants, environmental pollutants, and heavy metals that are present in a formula. Again, Omega Embrace by CHI4Health exceeds both sets of standards.

Vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) and rosemary extract are used to stabilize the oil, ensuring maximum purity and freshness. This exclusive fish oil is purified, vacuum distilled, and independently tested to ensure heavy metals, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are removed.

As if the purity, stability, and traceability weren't enough, Omega Embrace also uses the triglyceride form of fish oil rather than the ethyl ester (EE) and monoglyceride (MG) forms. According to a review of evidence reported in The Journal of Nutritional Science, progress in lipid bioavailability seems to be lowest for the ethyl ester form, and products that use this form of fish oil are generally found in discount stores, grocery stores, or even specialty vitamin stores.

Cheaper manufacturing processes lead to a product that may not be very bioavailable or effective; the fish oils you see in grocery stores are often treated with chemicals to get the appearance of freshness and quality that people desire. Older fish or fish oil products trapped in the current supply chain are exposed to these harsh chemicals to purify oils for contaminants, taste, and smell– professional supplement lines like Nordic Naturals, Vital Nutrients and Omega Nutrition implement stricter manufacturing guidelines and testing to ensure that fresh, clean and pure omega-3s are available to the public.