How do you choose an omega-3 dietary supplement?

The offer of Omega-3 is very diverse and especially abundant. For example, there are probably over 60 Omega-3 dietary supplements on our market. The purchase decision is a subjective and unilateral process that must be respected. But it is important that it be done in the best possible way.


A better-informed person is not only stronger, but also healthier.

Here are 4 basic information that a consumer should consider when choosing such a dietary supplement, so that he can get the best product for the price he pays. Therefore:

Omega-3 defines several substances in the class of essential fatty acids. The term “essential” refers to substances that are very necessary for our body, for its proper functioning and development, substances that it cannot produce on its own and that it must receive from the outside through food and / or food supplements.

The most important omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), because both separately and together enter different structures and directly influence a number of biochemical processes in the body.

DHA is found in abundance in the brain and retina, having a very important role in the formation, development and proper functioning of the brain and eyes.

DHA and EPA benefits

– Sufficient intake of DHA supports the formation and development of pregnancy and especially of the fetal brain.
– DHA is essential for the development and functioning of the brain and eyes in young children and teenagers

Very important: such effects can be achieved only in case of a daily intake of at least 250 mg DHA*.

DHA and EPA together:
– Influence the proper functioning of the heart;
– Can reduce the level of “bad fats” (low density lipoproteins – or LDL) and increase the level of “good fats” (high density lipoproteins, or HDL);
– Sufficient DHA and EPA intake reduces the risk of premature births.

Very important: in order to influence the proper functioning of the heart, the minimum required daily intake of DHA and EPA together must be of at least 250 mg*.

EPA benefits anti-inflammatory processes in the joints.

Very important: in order to have anti-inflammatory effects, the minimum required daily intake of EPA is 1-4 grams.

Conclusion: The content of omega-3 per capsule of the product must be carefully analysed before buying it, because in some cases even 8 capsules per day will be needed to cover this minimum requirement – which makes the product very expensive, even if on the shelf it costs only 10-20 lei.

*According to EU Regulation no. 1169/2011


30 capsules


60 capsules

Technically, but very simple to understand, the production of fish oil rich in omega-3 is as follows: the fish is pressed and the result in a crude oil (raw) that can contain around 20% – 25% omega-3, in their natural form of triglycerides (TG).


Fatty acids are extracted from this crude oil with the help of concentrated ethyl alcohol. Thus, from triglycerides, ethyl esters (EE) of omega-3 fatty acids are obtained, a process called transesterification. EE are, of course, an artificial form of omega-3, obtained industrially.


The fish oil thus processed is sent to refining (distillation) to be purified and separated from environmental pollutants such as heavy metals as lead or mercury.


The result is a purified fish oil, in which omega-3 fatty acids represent 30-35% and are present as ethyl esters (EE). Most manufacturers stop at this stage, so many products on the market contain 30% -35% omega-3 in the form of ethyl esters (EE). It is very important to see what kind of omega-3 contains the product you want to buy, because EE or TG are not the same thing at all.

The best producers of food supplements – fish oils rich in omega-3 introduce another stage in the production process, by which they retransform EE back into the natural form of triglycerides (TG), through a process of enzymatic re-esterification – which involves a technology of great finesse and which obviously increases production costs. Re-esterifying EE oil at the TG stage means 30% – 40% higher production costs. That is why most fish oil producers focus on ethyl esters as a finished product.



How do omega-3 compounds behave in the digestive tract?


Very important:


In all living organisms (both plants and animals), fats are found in the form of triglycerides (TG). Only these substances enter the metabolism and are used for the functioning and development of organisms, and only in this form the human body recognizes them and can process them.


When omega-3 compounds reach the digestive tract in the natural form of triglycerides (TG) they are quickly and completely recognized and absorbed into the cells of the lining of the small intestine, reach the blood and then they are transported throughout the entire body and used where needed.


When omega-3 compounds are introduced into the digestive tract as ethyl esters (EE), they are primarily absorbed in a poor yield, between 20 and 40%. Secondly, what is absorbed as EE is first sent to the liver, where the ethyl alcohol is eliminated and the respective fatty acids are converted into triglycerides and only then they are introduced into the blood flow and sent into the body. We have, therefore, a long time of absorption and, especially, we have quantitative losses: once after absorption in the intestine, then in the liver, where during the separation of ethyl alcohol oxidative degradation processes take place.



– Omega-3 as TG are a natural form and are quickly and completely absorbed;

– Omega-3 as EE are only partially absorbed and first pass through the liver to be transformed into TG. The absorption time is much longer and the amount absorbed is smaller, because there are significant losses.


Conclusion: It is very important to know in what form the product contains the omega-3 fatty acids: TG or EE. Where it is not specified, it is most likely EE.


At the end we noted down some references containing scientific studies that support these statements.

It is well known that the best and most consistent source of omega-3 rich oil is wild ocean fish, which lives in the cold Arctic waters and is therefore very fatty. The best examples are anchovies, herring, sardines, mackerel, cod, tuna, salmon.


Very important: Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a protected species, meaning that the industrial salmon fishing is strictly limited and controlled in the EU. For the production of salmon fish oils farmed fish, artificially fed with vegetable feed is used most likely.

This is the factor of utmost importance, because the technology with which it works for processing fish oil, its experience and its global importance are defining for the quality of the products.


Mercedes or Volvo are respected brands all over the world, symbols and guarantee for quality, safety and comfort.


The same is true for the production of omega-3 rich fish oils.


There are manufacturers with over 180 years of experience, with state-of-the-art technology, recognized and respected worldwide, certified by international organizations in the field such as GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA), an organization that imposes very strict standards of quality and purity for omega-3 enriched fish oil food supplements. The most important and respectable manufacturers are listed on the GOED website ( Those who cannot respect the quality level imposed by GOED cannot be a member. Visit this site to be well informed.


  1. Dyerberg J, Madsen P, Møller JM, Aardestrup I, Schmidt EB (2010) Bioavailability of marine n-3 fatty acid formulations.
  2. Lawson LD, Hughes BG. Human absorption of fish oil fatty acids as triacylglycerols, free acids, or ethyl esters. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1988;152:328–335.
  3. Beckermann B, Beneke M, Seitz I. Comparative bioavailability of eicosapentaenoic acid and docasahexaenoic acid from triglycerides, free fatty acids and ethyl esters în volunteers. Arzneimittelforschung 1990;40:700–704. [German]