Concentrations of DHA & EPA in krill oil and fish oil, and quality vary widely
Consumerlab.com, a testing laboratory and watchdog on the dietary supplements industry, recently conducted a review of krill oil, fish oil and algal oil supplements for humans and pets. This is, perhaps, one of the only krill oil reviews out there.
The lab reviewed, 39 products in all, 24 chosen randomly and 15 that were tested on the request of their manufacturers or distributors. Conspicuously missing from the published test results was the largest selling krill oil brand Superba, or Mega Red krill oil, produced by Aker Biomarine in Norway. Of those tested, however, consumerlab.com found some brands lacking:
* Three of the branded products tested lower in the omega-s DHA and EPA than was stated on the label.
* Three products contained spoilage.
* A pet supplement had more PCBs (contaminants) than allowed (though the lab noted that the amount was less than is found in the typical serving of salmon).
* Some products were mislabeled with the phrases “pharmaceutical grade” or “tested in FDA approved laboratories.” The FDA does not approve laboratories.
* The relative concentration of EPA+DHA, one of the main value points upon which manufacturers sell their product and consumers buy it, varied widely in the results – from 8-90 percent. However, krill oil is phospholipid-based, which likely has a positive impact on how much omega-3 the body is able to absorb.
* The cost to obtain 100mg of EPA and/DHA ranged all the way from around a penny to 15 cents for fish oil, and to 30 cents for krill oil. The lab said that paying higher prices didn’t mean that you got higher quality.
Neptune krill oil tested rancid
"The good news," said Tod Cooperman, CEO of ConsumerLab.com, "is that these are very safe products. None of these had any detectable mercury. You're going to get more contamination by eating fish." Though varying levels of PCBs were found in the tested products, he said, none of them (except the one pet product) exceeded the stringent standards set by the Global Organization for EPA/DHA Omega-3s (GOED).
ConsumerLab.com also pointed out that the softgels that contained the Neptune krill oil also failed for spoilage, with a TOTOX value of 57.4 (a value above 26 indicates rancidity). The findings of spoilage and the lower than claimed omega-3 levels were confirmed in a second independent laboratory blinded to the identity of the product.
Krill Oil and Fish Oil Reviews
Specific numbers and details on the specific brands and outcomes are available only to members of the laboratory. However, WellWise.org reached several representatives of one of the companies that supply krill oil to the manufacturers of tested krill oil supplements brands.
Mickey Schuett, sales director at Azantis, Inc., which supplies krill oil for Source Natural’s Arctic Pure Krill Oil (one of the tested products), said “We are very pleased with the results. We’ve always maintained a high standard of quality control with our krill oil. We encourage all sellers of krill oil to do independent third-party testing on their krill oil, no matter who the manufacturer is.”
One brand of krill oil – supplied by Neptune Bioressources (the pioneer of the whole krill oil business) – didn't fare well in the review. WellWise.org reached Dr. Tina Sampalis, Neptune's chief science officer, who said that she was quite disappointed by the choice of analytical methods used in the review.
"Over the years it has been established that analytical methods applicable to fish oils (omega-3 triglycerides) cannot be applied to krill oils (omega-3 phospholipids)," Dr. Sampalis said. "Applying the same method underestimates the real quantity of EPA and DHA ... in Neptune Krill Oil."
Neptune uses non standard testing methods
Dr. Sampalis said that Neptune recently validated its methodologies of analysis at an independent accredited lab and certified its certificate of analysis (an industry standard for evaluating the contents of any supplement) as valid. She said Neptune would offer ConsumerLab its testing methodologies, and hoped that the lab would consider issuing a new report using Neptune's testing methods.
In response, ConsumerLab's Cooperman said that his company uses the official method approved by the AOAC (Association of Analytical Chemists), an international methods validation organization.It is also the method used by other providers of krill oil,and by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Nevertheless, he said, his company is happy to receive information about other validated testing methodologies, and will consider them. As well, ConsumerLab keeps unopened reserve samples that it will send to a different third-party lab, as long as the company whose test results are in question will agree to publish the new results.
Krill and fish oils reviewed:
Brands of krill oil, fish oil and algae oil supplements tested, in alphabetical order, include Advocare, CardioStat (Amerifit), Carlson, CVS, Dr. Sears, Finest Natural (Walgreen), Garden of Life, Kirkland (Costco), Life Extension, Liquid Solutions, Master Omega, Natrol, Natural Factors, Nature Made, New Chapter, Nordic Naturals, NOW, NSI (Vitacost), Olympian Labs, OmegaBrite, Origin (Target), PregnancyPlus, Puritan’s Pride, Quest Longevity (Canadian), Res-Q, Solgar, Source Naturals, Spring Valley (Walmart), Swanson, Trader Joe’s, The Simpsons, Vital Nutrients, VitalOils (VitalRemedyMD), Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Weil, Wellements, and 1-800-PetMeds.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this krill oil forum is a public service of WellWise.org, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended to constitute personal medical advice.