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Raise Your Standards

There are a lot of choices when it comes to getting your daily dose of omega-3 When faced with dozens of brands, how do you ensure you aren’t buying snake oil, but high-quality fish oil?

Never fear, the International Fish Oil Standards Program is here to test the waters for you and provide you with all the information you need to make an educated purchase. IFOS is an independent Canadian company created by Nutrasource Diagnostics, which tests fish oil for their purity, potency, and freshness. Only the best fish oils get their 5-star approval.

Companies can voluntarily submit their wares for certification. The products are then put through a comprehensive analysis and examination. Not only are these exams AP level, but the IFOS takes it one step further and tests the oil by batch. That’s a lot of testing, but there is a method to the madness: it ensures that the ingredients that are listed on the label are what you’re actually getting in every bottle.

The third-party IFOS appraises the oil on a five-star rating scale, with gold standard oils receiving 5 stars on concerns like content, contaminants, and stability:

IFOS acts as quality control when they test for active ingredients. The purity of an oil, or the amount of fatty acids EPA and DHA contained, makes a big difference to your well-being. If you want the health benefits of taking omega-3s, you want the most bang for your buck. The levels of EPA and DHA needs to be high enough so that each serving delivers at least 3 grams of EPA and DHA. Only a few companies can make that claim.

Since we live in an age where many don’t give a hoot and pollute, there are environmental concerns with certain fish oils as well. Particular contaminants can be found in the fatty tissues of fish, which they absorb from the ecosystem around them. Certain heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic can be harmful in large doses. In addition to toxins, IFOS also now tests for radiation in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

The IFOS also makes sure that your oil is fresh off the boat, literally. Stability or the shelf life of the fish oil is another standard IFOS uses to determine how they assign stars. Many know that fish oil can oxidize over time, however, low quality oil can turn rancid much quicker if not stored correctly or kept at high temperatures. Properly formulated fish oil should be sustainable and remain fresh longer.

How do you know if you are getting the good stuff? From a science view point, it is all about oxidation state. The lower the total oxidants, the fresher the oil and the Omega-3. For a five star IFOS rating, the oxidation state must be very low. If you see a circular sticker with a small fish drawn inside an “O”, then the IFOS has given that product its stamp of approval. You can trust the quality of the oil you are purchasing.

Most recently, SFH has switched to Alaskan Pollock as a source of all American produced omega-3 oil. Alaskan Pollack is a relative of a cod fish. As we all know cod fish are not very fishy and neither is our refined oils. Further, Alaskan Pollack is from a sustainable fishery zone.