If all the fish oil you have ever tried is the kind of fish oil that comes in plastic-bound packages of two bottles in a big box discount store, chances are you haven't enjoyed the benefits of the purest fish oil.
Cheap fish oil is no bargain. The cheapest brands of fish oil contain as little as 1/3 of the omega-3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA you find in better formulas. They may contain none of the anti-inflammatory DPA that is available from fish oils made from hoki, the New Zealand whitefish.
Even if these brands have been "molecularly distilled" to remove ocean-borne pollutants, they are not pure fish oil. The way you can tell you they contain "other marine products" is by the fishy burps or fish breath you get you take enough capsules to get your daily 1 to 5 grams of omega-3s.
A product that costs twice as much may contain three times as much omega-3. A capsule of a fish oil you by at a discount store may contain just 60 mg of DHA and 90 mg of EPA. A 1,000 mg capsule of a purer fish oil may contain 200 mg of DHA and 100 mg of EPA, or even more. The capsule that contains less of the omega-3 essential fatty acids contains more of the fish byproducts that can upset your stomach and make you burp. And you have to take lots of these cheap, lower quality fish oil capsules to make up for all the content you don't need.
One of the best ways to recognize a purer fish oil is to make sure each capsule provides you at least 400 mg of essential fatty acids. Xtend Life, for example, provides 430 mg of DHA + EPA. But there is still the question of whether the fish oil contains any heavy metals of polychlorinated biphenyls absorbed by the fish as they lived in the sea.
Molecularly distilled is not always a promise of quality. There are two ways to do the molecular distillation that removes ocean-borne toxins. One is to mix the fish oil with hexane, let the hexane bind to the impurities, and then to distill the fish oil a second time to remove the hexane toxins added to remove the other toxins.
You probably can see the problems with this approach.
A better approach to ensuring fish oil purity is to begin with oils taken from fish that are naturally high in the omega-3 fatty acids you are looking for, such as certain species of tuna and New Zealand whiting. Then you use a distillation process that doesn't require hexane to get rid of mercury, dioxins, PCBs, and chlordane.
Even if you haven't been using a fish oil product that's distilled, chances are you aren't going to experience any immediate problems. But if you get just a tiny amount of these toxins day after day over years or decades, your health will surely suffer. That is why four different international standards now exist for fish oil safety: the International Fish Oil Standards developed at the University of Guelph in Canada (IFOS), standards from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CFRN), standards from the European Phamarcopoeia, and the Norwegian Medicinal Standard.
Buy fish oil that is better than it has to be. Some fish oil manufacturers are so lax about purified fish oil that they don't comply with any standards at all. They can sell their products even if they don't meet international standards (and many brands sold in the USA don't). But Xtend Life meets or beats all the of the world's toughest standards for purified fish oil.
Here's how Xtend Life products compare to the international standards.
|Toxin||Xtend-Life||International Fish Oil Standards||Council For Responsible Nutrition||European Pharmacopoeia||Norwegian Medicinal Standard|
|Total PCBs (ppt)||5||45||90||N/A||N/A|
|Total Dioxins & Furans (ppt)||0.5||1||2||2||2|
N/A means "not applicable."
ppb means part per billion and ppt means parts per trillion.
Xtend Life's internal standards are 2 to 10 times tougher than the strictest international regulations, especially for mercury, which is potentially damaging to prenatal health. And Xtend life also publishes the results of laboratory testing of their products with a COA (Certificate of Analysis) to show that the two levels of product testing resulted in a safe product.