Consumer Reports tests fish oil supplements

CLEVELAND - More and more people are taking daily fish oil supplements to help reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes. And while sales for the supplements are setting records, many remain concerned about the potential risks associated with fish. 

Dawn Keegan Silverstein is a believer. She takes a fish-oil supplement every day to get the Omega-3 fatty acids she doesn't get in her diet. 

"Fish-oil supplements are Omega-3s, and those are important for your health," she said. 

Consumer Reports recently tested 15 top-selling brands to find out if they are contaminant-free and actually do what they claim to: improve overall health. 

"All did have the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids promised on the label," Consumer Reports' John Santa said. "And the levels of dioxin-like PCBS and other contaminants were below the limits set by the United States Pharmacopoeia." 

While most of the products tested were within acceptable limits, there were some that raised eyebrows. 

With four of the brands, at least one sample had PCB levels that could require warning labels under a strict California law. Also, Kirkland Signature's enteric-coated capsules didn't disintegrate properly, leaving a fishy aftertaste. 

However, Consumer Reports found nine brands that met all the quality standards. Of those, the least expensive is Walmart's Spring Valley brand. Those doses cost just 17 cents a day. 

The nine suggested brands range in price from $60 to $235 a year for people who take Omega-3 supplements daily. 

Consumer Reports does recommend checking with a physician before taking any supplements, as they can interact with certain prescription drugs.

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