Q: I have read that liquid fish oil is better than softgels, but I struggle to take it. Can I get the same benefits in a softgel?
A: Whether in liquid or softgels, you can reap the many benefits of fish oil if you know what to look for. It’s not the delivery form that determines quality, but the purity and potency of the product you choose. This varies widely with fish oils on the market. Here’s what you need to know about shopping for fish oil in softgels.
Why take fish oil?
Ultimately the health benefits of fish oil are because of the omega-3 fatty acids. It can be challenging to get optimal amounts of these essential fats from diet alone. Omega-3s are a boon to heart, skin, and brain health. They lay the foundation of a balanced inflammatory response by supporting the body’s production of anti-inflammatory compounds. Omega-3s can even support a healthy mood and help keep your hormones happy, too.
There are three things to look for when choosing a fish oil supplement. First, does it contain an adequate amount of omega-3s? This can range a lot per brand. Ideally, your product will provide 1500 mg of combined DHA and EPA per daily dose. This would typically be in two softgels. Check labels to make sure you don’t need to take a whole handful of softgels to get a worthwhile dose!
Second, fish oil needs to be purified and verified to ensure that the final product is free of the environmental contaminants normally present in fish. Further checks are required to make sure the oil was not damaged (oxidized) during the manufacturing process and will remain fresh to the end of its shelf life. ISURA® is Canada’s only independent, not-for-profit natural health supplement and food product verification and certification organization. It uses state-of-the-art testing to measure the quality of fish oil and other natural health products. Seeing the ISURA logo on your product label means you are getting exactly what the label says and no unwanted surprises.
Third, as delicate omega-3s are prone to degradation over time, antioxidant preservatives, such as rosemary extract or vitamin E, should be added to prevent this. Bonus points if your fish oil also contains astaxanthin. This natural red pigment is what gives salmon, shrimp, and flamingoes their rosy hue. It also makes an excellent natural fighter of free radicals in fish oil.
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Best-selling author and licensed naturopathic doctor Kate Rhéaume is a graduate and former faculty member of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Kate lectures internationally on many topics related to health and wellness, and is a frequent guest on radio and television across North America. She is the author of the best-selling book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.