Consumer News

Omega-3 Supplements Fail to Live Up To Label Claims

Vitamins
Image Wikimedia Commons/Bradley Stem

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the normal bodily function. There are several studies that demonstrate omega-3 fatty acids can boost the health of your heart as well as lower triglycerides. Many individuals consume omega-3 fatty acid supplements daily as a means to maintain a healthy immune system, however CosnumerLab.com revealed 31 percent of supplements tested failed to live up to their label claims.

Researchers found many of the supplements that promised to decrease the risks of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and macular degeneration may have been useless and to some extent dangerous.

Researchers investigated 35 brands of omega-3 fatty acid supplements, including ones that contain fish oil, krill oil, calamari oil, cod liver oil, and algae oil. Many of these products falsified their labels regarding the amount of healthy fatty acids the supplements contained.

According to the report, four packed less fatty acids than what they advertise. Three had up to 267 percent more fatty acids than what their labels stated. Two exceeded safe levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a chemical used in coolants and insulating fluids that's been banned in the U.S. since 1979, but still contaminates water channels throughout the country.

"Every fish oil supplement contains trace levels of PCBs, but two of those we tested exceeded levels safe for human consumption," said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers PCBs a potential carcinogen and studies demonstrate the harmful effects it can have on the immune and reproductive systems.

One tablet's enteric-coating did not function correctly, which means that the special coating meant to release the oil in the intestine rather than the stomach to reduce the fishy aftertaste, released the oil too early in the digestive system. Lastly, one supplement was spoiled. Dr. Cooperman stated, though there aren't any serious health effects as a results of spoilage, it may cause burping and other G.I. issues.

Dr. Cooperman believes being aware of your needs and what you eat will help you make educated decisions concerning omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Those who consume fish at least twice a week do not need to take supplements.  He also suggests refrigerating fish oils as a means to reduce spoilage.

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