I am a medical doctor and a researcher hence I believe in evidence based medicine. I was very shocked to find this article recently (by accident) titled " A Nutritional-Toxicological Assessment of Antarctic Krill Oil versus Fish Oil Dietary Supplements ". This article was published in 2014 in Nutrients Journal by researchers from Griffith University and CSIRO Food and Nutrition in Tasmania. This research is also funded by ARC Discovery Grant DP666891.
So here comes the shocking part. They actually tested multiple readily available fish oils on the market and found that the DHA content in particularly 2 products fell below (~10%–30%) the manufacturer specifications namely Nature’s Way Kidsmart (133 mg specified vs. 95 mg observed) and Blackmores Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold (125 mg specified vs. 85 mg observed).
When I shared this piece of article with my friends they asked me how could the manufacturers be so misleading and why is this even allowed? To be absolutely honest, I am not here to judge or comment on different brands but merely sharing what I found published in the medical research world.
The next table below is where the researchers did an analysis of the contamination level of all the products. Even though they found that none of the products analysed in the current study (at their highest recommended dosage) came close to fulfilling tolerable daily intake (TDI) levels for any single analyte, they have listed the top five products with the greatest contaminant burden for five key compound groups, plus TEQ values, ranking them from 1–5 with the sample containing the highest concentrations receiving a score of 5.
Bioceuticals Omegasure liquid fish oil and Blackmores 1000 mg both carried a cumulative score of 16, Blackmores Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold formula and Nature’s Own 1000 mg each received a score of 12.
According to the researchers, Blackmore’s Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold formula incorporates tuna oil, sourced from northern hemisphere oceans, thereby likely contributing to the higher contaminant burdens found in this formulation, despite its lower oil content.
This again highlights that translational research is very important. What is translational research? In a medical research context, it aims to "translate" findings in fundamental research into medical practice and meaningful health outcomes. It is very common in medical research where great amount of research work and funding has been put in but there is lack of dissemination of information to the public. This is a gap that needs to be bridged and my blog is all about this. In regards to this article, it was an accidental find for me, to better educate myself (and definitely to warn all my pregnant friends to not take the particular product mentioned) and the public.
The researchers in the article has concluded that ongoing monitoring of the pollutant content of fish and krill oil products will become increasingly important as food authorities seek
regulatory overview of this rapidly expanding industry.
Make sure you know what you are taking and whether you are really paying for the quality.
Bengtson Nash SM, Schlabach M, Nichols PD. A Nutritional-Toxicological Assessment of Antarctic Krill Oil versus Fish Oil Dietary Supplements. Nutrients. 2014;6(9):3382-3402. doi:10.3390/nu6093382.
Dr Nicole Ng (MBBS) is a medical doctor with a passion in women's health and medical research