I recently got five calls within a few hours, all with the same questions:
- Does your fish oil have 1000 mg Omega-3? Yes.
- Is your fish oil enteric coated? Yes.
- Is your fish oil tested by IFOS? Yes.
- Does your formula have Vitamin D? No, and it shouldn’t!
I knew something was up.
That something was Brenda Watson’s TV show, Heart of Perfect Health airing PBS during fund-raising drive.
Ms. Watson gives very specific advice on how to use Omega-3, enzymes, detoxes and probiotics to improve heart health’
I’ll get to the Vitamin D part in a second…
4 Things to Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement
In the segment on Omega-3, she gives 4 key things to look for in a good Omega-3 product. Explains the phone calls.
I don’t know Brenda personally, but I’ve seen her every year at trade shows. She’s an excellent educator and has done a great job of focusing the viewer’s attention on gut health.
A possible eye-opener is how clearly and simply she connects poor diet and heart health to the gut. Gut health is a lot more than just being regular!
Having an opinion on all things nutrition and health, here’s my take on the 4 fish oil requirements mentioned in her show:
1. ‘Fish Oil Supplements Must Have at Least 1000 mg Omega-3 Per Pill’
Brenda Watson is absolutely right. If you’re serious about your health, you need a serious Omega-3 product, preferably one with a high EPA level.
Her suggested daily dosage is 3000 mg of Omega-3 per day. With a pill that contains at least 1000 mg Omega-3, that’d be just 3 pills.
Or as she puts it, ’10 of the regular fish oils or 30 of the red stuff,‘ referring to krill oil.
‘Krill Oil Shocker’
Most of the callers whom I spoke to were ex-krill oil users and expressed disbelief that krill oil had so little Omega-3.
I am not surprised. Marketers have spent countless millions advertising krill oil.
Before that kinda money is spent, you need ‘rationale.’ Enter focus groups.
I can almost hear fat cats in meetings saying, ‘Let’s focus group what people hate about fish oil and address those issues with a product.’
People hate fish oil because:
- the pills are big
- you need to take more than one
- they sometimes smell
How do I know? I used to run these focus groups on fish oil. I’ve literally talked to thousands of people about fish oil.
Now look at the Krill oil marketing message:
- tiny pill
- just one per day
- no fishy odor
Coincidence? You tell me.
Krill oil marketers found out what people hated about fish oil and turned it on its head.
Krill oil is marketed as the anti-fish-oil. Heck, the TV ads almost makes me want to switch to krill oil!
So when Brenda Watson told her PBS audience that it takes ’30 of the red stuff,’ I wanted to stand up and clap. Frankly, you probably only need 15 or 20 of the red stuff because the krill oil is better absorbed than fish oil.
Only 15 pills a day? Yes. Only.
Still, 20 krill oil pills costs about $15 per day. And people have no problem paying up. May be that’s why the largest krill oil player was just sold for $1.4 billion.
2. ‘Fish Oil Supplements Must be Enteric Coated’
This was Brenda Watson’s second Omega-3 requirement.
Enteric coating prevents odor and burping after you swallow the pill.
I agree. Fishy burping is the #1 reason why people stop taking Omega-3 supplements. That’s why OmegaVia is enteric coated.
But I think the 1000 mg Omega-3 per pill requirement is way more important.
And there is some evidence that shows enteric coated fish oil pills may provide benefits, especially to those suffering from digestive issues.*
3. ‘Fish Oil Supplements Must be IFOS Tested’
Again, I agree.
IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) is a third-party testing lab in Canada. They test fish oils and publish results for everyone to see.
Unlike ConsumerLab.com, you don’t have to pay to access IFOS test results. All products tested by IFOS are posted publicly for you to see.
Virtually none of the products on store shelves are tested by IFOS. There are some exceptions like Nordic Naturals and Brenda Watson’s own RenewLife brand. That’s why you’ll find me regularly recommending these two brands on this blog.
If you buy a fish oil supplement from Walmart or heck, Whole Foods Market, there is virtually no way to know how pure, potent or fresh the pills are. It’s a leap of faith.
I don’t think you need to take that leap of faith. With the internet, it is a piece of cake for companies to post their certificate of analyses on their website for all to see. But it never happens.
Why are third-party test results of purity not easily available?
- It costs time and money.
- It makes it easy for consumers to compare.
- It will raise questions.
- It may force the company to buy better oil.
- It exposes the company to risk.
You get the idea. All of these reasons are valid.
But there are several companies, including Brenda’s and ours, who think the openness is worth the effort.
4. ‘Fish Oil Supplements Should Contain Vitamin D’
Here, I disagree.
Not because I don’t think you need Vitamin D. Oh, you need it! Lots of if. Unless you’re a shirtless lifeguard on Miami Beach, you’re not getting enough Vitamin D.
It’s not a matter of cost. Vitamin D is dirt cheap. Adding Vitamin D to fish oil adds less than a fraction of a penny to the cost of each pill.
The problem with adding Vitamin D to fish oil is that you’d either get too little or too much.
Most people need between 3000 IU and 5000 IU per day.
How much Vitamin D you need depends on many variables:
- Your current Vitamin D status
- How much sunlight you get
- The time of the year and the angle of the sun’s rays
- How much Vitamin D you get from food
- The color of your skin (dark skin = greater sun requirement)
Blindly supplementing without testing is foolish. Vitamin D tests are cheap. Talk to your doctor and figure out your D level before you supplement.
Example: If we randomly put 2000 IU of Vitamin D into each pill, you won’t get enough if your daily fish oil dosage is 1 pill per day.
And if you’re taking 3 pills of OmegaVia, you’d be getting too much in the summer time.
Overall, Brenda Watson’s message on Omega-3 (and gut health) is solid. I’d much rather you listen to her than Dr. Oz.
If you have not seen Brenda Watson’s PBS special, I strongly suggest you do. Not because of the Omega-3 bit – watch it because the show will open your eyes about how important gut health is. And your gut’s connection to your heart health.
As I write this, it is still on air. Google it.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.