Nowadays, pretty much anyone taking a multivitamin is also supplementing with fish oil. Why? Because fish oil contains essential fatty acids; Omega-3s by the name of EPA and DHA. And because essential fatty acids are essential, you need them in your diet in order for your body and mind to function optimally. While we could amass a gigantic list enumerating the potential benefits of essential fatty acids and EPA and DHA in particular, we won’t. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that you have already made the decision to supplement your diet with fish oil and you are trying to decide which one to purchase. We are also going to assume, for the sake of this article that the fish oil(s) you are considering have been tested and meet the acceptable paramaters for allowable levels of PCBs, mercury and other contaminants. So, you walk into your local health food store, Vitamin Shoppe or you are checking out your favorite online retailer and are faced with the decision of which one to buy. There are so many different brands, potencies, bottle sizes etc that it can be a daunting task. Lucky for you, I’ve spent some time punching my calculator and have come up with some numbers that you might find helpful.
Earlier, I mentioned EPA and DHA; these two fatty acids are the main reason you are even bothering with fish oil in the first place. Higher amounts of these numbers mean a more potent product and lower numbers mean a weaker product; and herein lies the ablity to calculate value in a product. As I said, since you are buying from a reputable retailer and considering well-known brands, we are going to assume that the products have been tested for contaminants and are safe. Recently, I calculated the cost per gram of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA +DHA) in a number of different fish oil supplements. I used vitaminshoppe.com to price all products as they are often very competitive compared to many other online retailers and they offer a wide variety. I found Carlson and Vitamin Shoppe brand fish oils to be the best value. Nordic Naturals, a very popular brand was about double the price per gram of omega-3s. So, approxmately how much SHOULD you be paying for your fish oil supplement? You’ll have to do some math but when it’s all said and done, if you’re paying more than $.25 per gram of EPA+ DHA (NOT per gram of fish oil!) for a standard fish oil softgel then you are paying too much.
For example, “Carlson Super Omega 3 Gems” contain 1000mg of fish oil per softgel capsule. OF that 1000 mg , 600 mg are Omega 3s. 600mg per cap x 130 caps per package = 78,000 mg or 78g. At a price of $16.47 that comes out to $.21 per gram of omega-3s. That is the best value I was able to find.
Compare that to “Nordice Naturals Omega 3 1000 mg” which contains 1000 mg of fish oil per softgell capsule. OF that 1000 mg, 345 mg are Omega 3s. 345 mg per cap x 180 caps per bottle = 62,000 mg or 62g. At a price of $36.93 that comes out to $.60 per gram of omega-3s. That is triple the price of the Carlso fish oil!
Vitamin Shoppe brand fish oils came in around $.24/grams. BUT, if you consider the fact that they offer a buy one get one 50% on these products, it easily becomes the best value.
Next time you’re considering a fish oil and value is part of the equation, consider how much you are actually paying per gram of Omega-3s before you plunk down your cash!