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Omega-3 Supplements May
Fall Short of Label Claims

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some fish oil supplements contain less omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claim, a new study shows.

ConsumerLab.com, a commercial testing company in White Plains, New York, conducted the study, released this month. For a fee, the company licenses its flask-shaped ``Seal of Approved Quality'' to companies whose products pass testing.

``The good news is that these fish oil supplements did not appear to pose a risk of mercury poisoning--a risk that can be very real when routinely consuming certain fish, such as swordfish and shark,'' said Dr. Tod Cooperman, ConsumerLab.com's president, in a prepared statement from the company.

``The bad news is that a number of products had significantly less DHA and/or EPA than claimed,'' he added.

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acids) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are fatty acids, also known as omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil. Many people take dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids because evidence suggests they can lower heart disease risk. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), evidence that these fatty acids can reduce heart and blood vessel disease risk is ``suggestive, but not conclusive.''

ConsumerLab.com purchased 20 dietary supplements and tested their levels of EPA and DHA. Six of the products contained only 50% to 80% of the amount of DHA listed on their labels, according to Cooperman. Two of the dietary supplements contained 32% and 82%, respectively, of the amount of EPA listed on their labels.

The lower levels of the fatty acids found in the products ''could certainly reduce the effectiveness of products,'' Cooperman said.

Consumers will spend $15.7 billion this year on herbal and dietary supplements, experts estimate. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, supplement manufacturers are required to have in their files substantiation of any claims they make about how a product affects the structure or function of the body. They must also notify the FDA of claims that they are making within 30 days of marketing a given dietary supplement.

However, the FDA does not regulate ingredients in supplements or dosage levels.


Reference Source 89

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