Fish oil dietary supplements are often promoted as an alternative to prescription omega-3 fatty acids (OM3FAs) for the treatment of high cholesterol. Although widely accessible, they are not considered OTC drugs and are not regulated as drugs; therefore, their safety and efficacy have not been confirmed.
Previous research already has raised questions about the ingredients in fish oil supplements—fats and oxidized lipids in particular. Based on these concerns, a new study analyzed the fatty acid content, oxidation products, and biological effects of three popular supplements sold in the United States.
Elucida Research in Beverly, MA, found that OM3FA levels fluctuated greatly from product to product, from as low as 33% to as high as 79%. However, it also determined that high levels of saturated fat and oxidized OM3FA found in the supplements may actually undermine their possible health benefits.
More than 30 different fatty acids, including 10 to 14 of the saturated variety, were identified; and oxidation product levels surpassed the cap set by international quality standards.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (12/21/2016) Mason, R. Preston; Sherratt, Samuel C.R.