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Rancid Fish Oil? How Low-Quality Supplements Can Ruin Your Health


Fish Oil People ask me all the time what’s #1 on my list of “must take” dietary supplements. Without a doubt, it’s fish oil. Your body doesn’t produce the life-sustaining omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, and you can’t safely get therapeutic amounts from eating fish alone.

However, my answer comes with a few strings attached.

Fish oil is only beneficial if it meets specific standards for purity and potency. In recent lab tests, Consumer Reports found that 1 in 3 fish oil supplements fell short.[1] But if you think it’s only the expensive ones that pass the test, think again! High quality fish oil doesn’t have to cost a lot — you just need to know what to look for.

If you don’t currently take a fish oil supplement, I want you to start taking one right away. And if you’re currently taking one, I want you to think carefully about whether or not it’s the right one for you.

Either way, I’ll tell you how to tell a good fish oil supplement from a bad one.

Are You Critically Deficient in Lifesaving Omega-3s?

According to many experts, nearly all Americans are critically deficient in omega-3s, which makes us vulnerable to a whole host of health problems, including chronic inflammation, heart trouble, cognitive decline and even premature skin aging and wrinkles.[2]

Every cell in your body requires sufficient omega-3s to function properly. So when you replenish your omega-3 levels by taking fish oil, you begin to notice amazing improvements. People consistently report benefits such as better mood and memory, reduced joint pain, more youthful skin, stronger nails, improved vision, fewer colds, better cholesterol ratios — and really impressed doctors!

Here’s a short list of some of the more remarkable benefits of fish oil that thousands of research studies from around the world have revealed:

  • Promotes a healthy inflammatory response[3]
  • Boosts cognitive function[4]
  • Strengthens and protects the heart[5]
  • Supports optimal cholesterol ratios[6]
  • Promotes youthful skin and shiny hair[7]
  • Supports healthy vision[8]
  • Improves mood balance[9]
  • Promotes weight loss[10]

Take Fish Oil to Keep Your Heart Going Strong

Omega-3s are your heart’s best friend, which is perhaps the #1 reason you should take fish oil. Your heart works day in and day out to bring crucial oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body. On average, it needs to beat about 100,000 times a day to get its job done![11] That means it will beat billions of times over the course of your life. Sound like a lot of work and strain on the heart muscles? It is, which is why keeping your heart strong is the key to a long life.

Is Your Nutritional Intake “SAD”?

The standard American diet (sometimes referred to as “SAD”) tends to be high in unhealthy oils and omega-6 fats, which can promote inflammation and damage cells throughout your body. This inflammation is thought to be responsible for many of the “mystery symptoms” such as joint discomfort, fatigue, low mental energy and dry skin. However, research shows that the omega-3s found in fish oil can in effect neutralize these unhealthy oils, thus keeping inflammation at bay and making your whole body feel better.[12] Taking the right fish oil supplement with the proper levels of omega-3s can have an immediate impact on your health and can make those mystery symptoms literally disappear overnight!

The Government Would Back It, if Not for Special Interests

For years, health advocates have been pushing the government to throw its weight behind fish oil. The consensus is that if the government established an RDA for omega-3s, like it does for vitamin D and calcium, more people would be compelled to take fish oil.

In fact, many experts believe that if more people took fish oil supplements, there would be less need for painkillers, heart medications and antidepressants, as well as an overall decline in rates of chronic disease and early death.[2] But guess what? The pharmaceutical industry lobbied hard and spent gobs of money in an effort to prevent this from happening.

Fish Oil Is Extremely Safe…but for One Thing

There’s no question that the omega-3s found in fish oil are extremely beneficial to virtually every aspect of health. And unlike options that your doctor may recommend, omega-3s have no harmful side effects. However, where your omega-3s come from is extremely important. Experts estimate that upwards of 20 trillion gallons of toxic pollutants find their way into our waterways each year. And unfortunately, the fish swimming in today’s oceans are contaminated with the very same chemical toxins that fill the water, and research has shown that these toxins can become concentrated at very high levels in fish body oils.[13,14]

Dangerous Toxins Found in Fish (and Low Quality Fish Oil)

Mercury, lead, cadmium and other heavy metalsByproducts of industry linked to heart damage, cognitive problems and cancer[15,16]
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)A banned chemical known to cause cancer, skin disorders, liver disorders, reproductive problems and birth defects[17]
DDTAn extremely toxic type of dioxin that the EPA has linked to cancer and birth defects.[18]
Pharmaceutical drug residuesA recent EPA study found residues of drugs used to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and more in fish in the U.S.[19]

The Only Way to Get Clean, Pure Fish Oil

I think I’ve made a good case as to why it’s critical to supplement your diet with fish oil. But how can you be sure that you are safely benefitting without having to worry about slowly poisoning your body with pollution? An advanced process called molecular distillation is currently the only known method for eliminating 100% of toxins and contaminants in fish oil. Yet, most products do not undergo this critical step. So when it comes to purity, my test is simple. If it does not have “molecularly distilled” on the bottle, do not buy it. Period. My other quick tip is to look for a product made in a FDA-inspected facility to ensure quality.

Surprise! Guess What Type of Fish Is the Best?

You hear a lot of opinions about what type of fish makes the best fish oil supplements. Let me put this argument to rest. The answer is wild, cold-water fish. In terms of omega-3 content, overall purity and environmental sustainability, this is the clear winner.

Many fish oil supplements (even the expensive ones) are made from farmed fish, which are typically fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified corn and soy and treated with chemicals. So you get lower levels of omega-3s and a lot of extra processing. So make sure the bottle states that the source of the fish is wild, cold-water fish. If not, do not buy it!

Lastly, doctors have lately been prescribing prescription fish oil. They’ve been duped by the pharmaceutical companies into thinking that it’s superior to fish oil supplements. But don’t fall for the same trick that they did. Prescription fish oil is not even pure fish oil, but rather a highly processed alternative with questionable effectiveness and unknown side effects.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Taking Rancid Fish Oil

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of consuming oxidized fats, trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. Well, guess what? If the fish oil you take is not made with special measures, you are most certainly consuming these harmful fats in every pill. Omega-3s have a unique molecular structure that makes them prone to oxidation, which transforms them from health-promoting fats to rancid trans-fats when they are exposed to light and heat.[20] Most manufacturers ignore this simple scientific fact in the interest of rapid, inexpensive mass production.

There are several measures that manufacturers can take to avoid creating rancid fish oil. The most important of which is the use of molecular distillation (which I mentioned above), which purifies the oil without the use of heat. It’s also important that the softgel itself be a dark color to limit light exposure. Way too many fish oil supplements are made with clear softgels. Lastly, the best fish oil supplements include antioxidants like vitamin E, specifically tocotrienols, or CoQ10 to help prevent oxidation.

Fish Oil Alone Is Not Enough

A lot of companies like to “WOW” you with the amount of fish oil in their products. But it’s really all about the omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA. I don’t care if it contains 5,000 mg of fish oil. If a daily dose doesn’t provide you with at least 800 mg of EPA and DHA combined, it’s time to find a new fish oil supplement. Also, one of the great things about fish oil is that it can be combined with synergistic ingredients to boost its effectiveness. Unfortunately, few companies actually add these to their products. My favorite ones are CoQ10, vitamin E and vitamin D, since these powerful antioxidants serve as natural preservatives while at the same time promoting optimal heart function and brainpower.

The Best Fish Oil Supplement on the Market

Like I said earlier, fish oil doesn’t need to be expensive to be high quality. You just need to know what to look for. I invite you to shop around and do your research, but the supplement that I take myself and personally recommend is Stop Aging Now’s Omega-XTS™. It’s simply the best, most effective fish oil supplement on the market.

Of course, I must disclose that I developed Omega-T after doing extensive research on fish oil, so naturally, I believe it’s truly the best product available.  I take Omega-T every single day without fail.  Here’s why you should do the same:

• Only Omega-XTS provides 420 mg of EPA and 280 mg of DHA, and a total of 840 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from 1,400 mg of sustainably sourced wild cold-water fish oil.

• Only Omega-XTS is fortified with full spectrum, natural vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols for absolute freshness you can taste and enhanced heart health and antioxidant benefits.

• Only Omega-XTS provides healthy doses of trans-form CoQ10 and vitamin D3, nutrients most people are deficient in, for complete cardiovascular protection and whole health support.

• Only Omega-XTS is enhanced with lipase, a natural digestive enzyme, which increases absorption of omega-3s and helps to eliminate any potential “fishy” aftertaste. The capsules are also coated with a fresh-tasting natural lemon coating.

• Only Omega-XTS is made in a FDA-inspected facility and molecularly distilled using state-of-the-art vacuum technology that removes dangerous environmental toxins like mercury, lead and PCBs to undetectable levels.

• Only Omega-XTS costs as low as $16.50 per bottle – which is half, and even up to one third, the cost of those “premium grade” fish oils that don’t even come close in quality and don’t provide any of the “extras” found in Omega-T.

I also personally inspect the manufacturing facility where Omega-T is made on a monthly basis to make sure my rigorous quality standards are being met to a tee. Lastly, I stand by this product 100%.

To learn more about Omega-XTS and get special introductory pricing and free shipping, click here.

Scientific References


2. Danaei G et al. The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors. PLoS Med. 2009 Apr 28;6(4):e1000058.

3. Bouwens M, et al. Fish-oil supplementation induces antiinflammatory gene expression profiles in human blood mononuclear cells. Am J Clin Nutr. 90:415-424. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27680.

4. Laurin D, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. J Alz Dis. 2003: 5(4):315-322.

5. Sang Mi Kwak, MD, et al. Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements (Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid) in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):686-694. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.262.

6. Kris-Etherton PM, et al. Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2002; 106: 2747-2757.

7. Ho Kim H, et al. Eicosapentaenoic acid inhibits UV-induced MMP-1 expression in human dermal fibroblasts. J Lipid Res 2005, 46:1712-1720.

8. Tuo J, et al. A High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Diet Reduces Retinal Lesions in a Murine Model of Macular Degeneration. Am J Path. 175: 799-807, doi:10.2353/ajpath.2009.090089.

9. Lewis MD, et al. Suicide deaths of active-duty US military and omega-3 fatty-acid status: a case-control comparison. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Aug 23. [Epub ahead of print]

10. Massiera F et al. A Western-like fat diet is sufficient to induce a gradual enhancement in fat mass over generations. J Lip Res. 2010: doi: 10.1194/jlr.M006866.


12. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharm. 2002: 56(8): 365-379.

13. Fisk AT, et al. Biomagnification. Mar Pollut Bull. 2003: 46 (4): 522-524.

14. Landrum PF and Fisher SW. Influence of lipids on the bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of organic contaminants in aquatic organisms. Chapter 9 in MT Arts and BC Wainman. Lipids in fresh water ecosystems. 1999. Springer Verlag, New York.

15. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1997. Mercury Study Report to Congress. Vol. IV: An Assessment of Exposure to Mercury in the United States . EPA-452/R-97-006. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards and Office of Research and Development.

16. Croteau, M., S. N. Luoma, and A. R Stewart. 2005. Trophic transfer of metals along freshwater food webs: Evidence of cadmium biomagnification in nature. Limnol Oceanogr. 50 (5): 1511-1519.


18. Webb KS, et al. CCQM-K21 Key Comparison – Determination of pp’-DDT in fish oil. Metrologi. 2003: doi:10.1088/0026-1394/40/1A/08004.

19. McCracken A, et al. An Investigation of Antibiotic and Drug Residues in Fish. J Appl Microb. 1976: 40(1): 61–66.

20. Effects of antioxidants and humidity on the oxidative stability of microencapsulated fish oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. 2004: 81(4): 355-360, DOI: 10.1007/s11746-004-0906-7.

Josh Corn Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.

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18 responses to “Rancid Fish Oil? How Low-Quality Supplements Can Ruin Your Health”

  1. Erica Etelson says:

    Thanks for the info, a few follow-up question: (1) Should fish oil supps be kept refrigerated after opening to prevent rancidity? (2) Are the fish in Omega-T Fish oil sustainable caught? (3) I’ve read some stuff about too much Vitamin E being dangerous — can you comment?

    • Live in the Now says:

      Hi Erica,

      Thank you for your questions. Some answers:

      1) Any measures you can take to keep your fish oil away from heat and light will help to maintain the integrity of the omega-3s. Refrigeration is not required for a high quality fish oil supplements, but definitely won’t hurt.

      2) Yes, the fish used to make Omega-T are caught using sustainable practices. You can read more about that here:

      3) There have been a few studies conducted using synthetic forms of vitamin E that have shown some risks associated with those forms. However, there is a vast amount of research demonstrating the safety and antioxidant benefits of natural, full-spectrum vitamin E (tocotrienols and tocopherols), which is the form used in Omega-T.

  2. […] the original post: rancid-fish-oil-how-low-quality-supplements-can … – Live in the Now ← Build a Solid Fitness Plan With the Help of These Ideas » Yapperz … A Healthy […]

  3. z.latz says:

    just because of this problematic issue with fish, I prefer Flaxseed Oil.
    Another reason is that most fish are loaded with toxins. And now it’s even more relevant, because of Fukushima radioactive dust. It’s spreading everywhere, especially in the ocean.
    Any food that originates in California and Japan, avoid it.

    • Live in the Now says:

      Flax oil is a good source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linoleic acid (ALA). However, evidence suggests that the body is not able to efficiently convert enough ALA into the EPA and DHA that are so important for the heart and brain. Read more here:

      Another, possibly better, option might be a marine algae-based omega-3 supplement. However, the research on such supplements is only in its early stages.

  4. […] or whether it had been tested for purity, freshness or potency. It is well-documented that rancid fish oil can be rendered ineffective and even dangerous to health, as the fatty acid structures are compromised. We are left to assume that in most cases, the […]

  5. Anchovy says:

    You keep mentioning that the products are made in the USA. However, if the oil is sourced from another country and so are the gelcaps, do you still consider it made in the USA? What about oils and gelcaps coming from China?

  6. […] acids and kelp, low-quality sushi can put your life at risk. In addition to the potential for containing high levels of mercury, some sushi could contain dangerous parasites such as clonorchis sinensis or […]

  7. […] unfortunately, many supplement manufacturers looking to capitalize on fish oil’s popularity try to pass off worthless pills that contain pathetically low levels of omega-3s. What’s worse, these pills are often filled […]

  8. […] read Rancid Fish Oil? How Low-Quality Supplements Can Ruin Your HealthHow to Balance Your Omega-3 and Omega-6 IntakeHow Does Krill Oil Stack Up Against Fish […]

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  12. Ana says:

    I was told by my cardiologist to take fish oil. I read your article but isn’t Krill oil better. I am confused as to which oil to take.