SFI Health
A Buyers Guide to Fish Oils

A Buyers Guide to Fish Oils

When it comes to choosing a fish oil supplement, it can be hard to know where to start. Here's how to cut through the clutter and make sure you're buying the best product for your family.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 4 minutes

The essential facts

Fish oil offers powerful health benefits because it’s packed with two essential fatty acids called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – which are used by virtually every cell in the body for healthy functioning.  

These important nutrients must be consumed through external dietary sources like cold-water fish, algae or krill – which are often lacking in today’s modern diets. As a result, supplements have become a popular alternative often recommended by health experts. 

However fish oil supplements can vary widely in quality, so bear these important considerations in mind in order to make an informed purchasing decision.     

EPA + DHA Amount

Unfortunately, many fish oils do not contain significant amounts of EPA and DHA. This means you’d have to take an impractically high number of capsules each day to obtain the therapeutic dose. That’s why a less expensive bottle does not necessarily mean a good bargain! Make sure the label specifies exactly how much EPA and DHA the product contains per serving, and that it’s an adequate amount. 


To ensure quality, efficacy and safety of the product you choose, check that it’s been subjected to a high level of third party testing including ingredient, freshness and purity analysis. Its manufacturing processes should also adhere to the international quality standards set out by the World Health Organisation and European Union.


Many market-leading supplements participate in, or are selected for, independent scientific trials and studies to validate their results. Selecting a reputable product with clinical evidence to support its claims can eliminate much of the guess work.  


Fish oil is perishable and can easily go rancid so always check expiry dates. It’s also a good idea to examine the contents for any discolouration, fishy smell or taste (be wary of products with strong flavouring additives that could mask rancidity). It’s also wise to opt for a brand that includes a stabilizing agent like vitamin E to prevent oxidation and prolong shelf life.


Overfishing is a serious environmental concern so there are sourcing guidelines in place to protect fish stocks. Opt for an eco-friendly brand with reputation for sustainable practices as verified by regulatory bodies like Friends of the Sea® Certified Sustainable Fisheries or Seafood Watch.   

Take home message

At the end of the day, fish oil may be one of the most beneficial supplements you buy - make sure to choose wisely. Happy shopping!

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Decades of research confirm the importance of essential fatty acids found in fish to support eye and brain development, as well as overall health. 


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