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.
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