How to Buy Fish Oil

So fish oil is good for you (don't believe me?). Thats great, the next step is to go out and buy some. Nowadays this is incredibly simple - not only can you drive to the local GNC, but many drug stores and grocery stores offer a variety of products as well. Feeling lazy? Check out BodyBuilding.com, Amazon, or any other of the wide variety of fitness/nutritional websites which are happy to deliver straight to your door. Here within lies the problem.

A quick search of "fish oil" on Amazon gives you over 8,000 results, BodyBuilding.com gives you another 100, and GNC has over 20 (most of which are its own brand). So how do you choose between all of these? Not to state the obvious, but it comes down to quality and value. See our full note below, but the key to quality is making sure the product has the right amount of EPA & DHA. Since most products typically skimp on the DHA, we like to focus on the following two metrics when accessing our choices:

  1. Number of pills you have to consume to reach 1g of DHA intake. How much EPA and DHA you need per day is always up for debate, but lets say 1g is a healthy amount (some studies suggest 1.5g is the right amount). We basically use this metric as a combined efficiency ratio - it makes sure you get the proper amount of DHA per EPA and it also does a good job revealing which products have excess fat.
  2. Price per day based on the above number of pills.  So once we figure out how many pills we'll need to take per day, we figure out how much that will cost per day. While some products look expensive (especially on a per pill basis), they may be higher quality and possibly less expensive per day. Alas, some products are simply expensive AND low-quality. 

A Note on Product Quality 

It is no surprise that companies advertise fish oil products based on the total amount of fish oil in their products. However, this can be very deceptive at times. What we're most concerned about is the amount of EPA & DHA (the most important Omega 3's) in the product. So for example, if we look at the Top 10 Fish Oil products on BodyBuilding.com, in some cases, EPA & DHA made up only 30% of the fish oil in the product. Basically you would see 1,000mg on the front of the package, but only be receiving 300mg of the important stuff. Not only are you getting less of what you want and need, you're probably taking in excess fat as well (Omega 3 is considered a good type of fat). Why would companies do this? Obviously its just cheaper. It is what it is, we just need to watch out for the lower-quality products.

The List

To whittle down all the available products on the internet, we start by just looking at the top 10 products on BodyBuilding.com. What we find is that these products are priced anywhere from $0.06 to $0.18 per pill (based on current sales prices), with anywhere from 300mg to 1,250mg of fish oil per pill. However, when we take into account the DHA content, you would have to take anywhere from 3 to 8 pills per day to get the recommended 1g of DHA, costing you anywhere from $0.29 to $0.62 per day. No one wants to take more pills than they have to, so lets say we only want to purchase products that require less than 4 pills per day (bolded below). Great, that lowers the list to 5 (and it takes away the most expensive option).

Here are the 10 brands/products we looked at (with required pills per day): 

  1. Optimum Nutrition (NA, DHA/pill not provided)
  2. JYM Omega (2.7 pills)
  3. BodyBuilding.com Ultra EPA-DHA (3.3 pills)
  4. MuscleTech (8.3 pills)
  5. MusclePharm (3.3 pills)
  6. Controlled Labs (5 pills)
  7. NOW Ultra (4 pills)
  8. EVLUTION (3.3 pills)
  9. BodyBuilding.com Fish Oil (8.3 pills)
  10. RSP (8.3 pills)

With 5 decent choices, lets roll through our top 3 suggestions for fish oil products available on BodyBuilding.com and provide a little more detail on each: 

 

MPharm

3) MusclePharm Fish Oil

DHA / Softgel: 300mg

EPA+DHA/Fish Oil: 70%

Softgels / Day: 3.3

$/ Day: $0.40

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Buy on BodyBuilding.com

BB1

2) BodyBuilding.com Foundation Series Fish Oil Ultra EPA-DHA

DHA / Softgel: 300mg

EPA+DHA/Fish Oil: 86%

Softgels / Day: 3.3

$/ Day: $0.29

Buy on BodyBuilding.com

JYM

1) JYM Omega JYM

DHA / Softgel: 375mg

EPA+DHA/Fish Oil: 100%

Softgels / Day2.7

$/ Day: $0.39

Buy on BodyBuilding.com

Other great options available on Amazon: 

Conclusion

If you want to buy from BodyBuilding.com, you really have 3 great options. JYM Omega requires the fewest number of pills and was slightly cheaper than the MusclePharm option. It was also the only option where EPA & DHA represented 100% of the fish oil in the product, compared to 70% for MusclePharm and 86% for BodyBuilding.com's brand. If you're looking to go for the least expensive option, BodyBuilding.com's Foundation brand offers a great product, at a very reasonable price (just make sure you get the Ultra EPA-DHA and not the fish oil). 

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