Labdoor, a high-tech research company aimed at performing clinical testing and review of industries that operate under little or no regulation, has released research on several categories of sports supplements. In a recent study, fish oil supplements were graded for quality and value.

Although dietary supplements do have to be in line with the FDA’s good manufacturing practices policy, they do not require approval before entering the market.

Labdoor tested 30 top-selling fish oil supplements for total omega-3 content, as well as CLA, EPA and DHA quantities. Researchers also analyzed the amounts of mercury in the products and total oxidation values. Information gleaned from the lab assays was checked against the labels and used to formulate two sets of rankings, one for highest quality and the other for best value.

Fish oil—taken primarily to reduce cellular inflammation— is often recommended for competitive athletes as a supplement to enhance workout recovery and restoration. Benefits that have been associated with fish oil include better immune function, increased blood flow and prevention of chronic disease.

Labdoor found that label accuracy was “a major issue” for many of the supplements tested.

“21 out of 30 products demonstrated omega-3 levels that varied by over 10 percent off their label claims, 15 of which recorded a 25-percent variance between actual versus claimed content. EPA + DHA content also showed significant ingredient variance, ranging from -50.7 percent to +90.2 percent versus its stated label claims.”

Researchers also found that chewable and liquid-formulated fish oil, on average, contained significantly lower EPA and DHA concentrations as compared to softgel versions.

Nature Made Fish Oil—which claimed the number one “Best Value” ranking, received high marks on label accuracy.

“Nature Made Fish Oil was ranked #1 in overall label accuracy, recording just a 2.8 percent variance in total omega-3 content and measuring within 5 percent of its EPA & DHA claims.”

Here are the major findings from the report:

Labdoor Fish Oil Rankings

Top 10 for Highest Quality

  1. Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil
  2. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D3
  3. Axis Labs Citrus Omega Fish Oil
  4. GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil
  5. Now Foods Ultra Omega 3 Fish Oil
  6. MRM Smart Blend
  7. Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA
  8. Nature Made Fish Oil
  9. GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus Krill
  10. Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold


Top 10 for Best Value 

  1. Nature Made Fish Oil
  2. Axis Labs Citrus Omega Fish Oil
  3. NOW Foods Ultra Omega 3
  4. Kirkland Signature Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate
  5. GNC Triple Cod Liver Oil
  6. Dr. Tobias Optimum Omega 3 Fish Oil
  7. GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil
  8. MRM Smart Blend
  9. Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold
  10. GNC Fish Oil 1000