Study Tests find many popular omega 3 supplements are rancid. A Multi-Year Rancidity Analysis of 72 Marine and Microalgal Oil Omega-3 Supplements (Sep 2023)

Michael Harrop

Active member
Jul 6, 2023


There exists significant heterogeneity in the ‘freshness’ of consumer marine- and plant-derived omega-3 (Ω3) supplements. Fears of rancidity, or the oxidation of consumer Ω3 supplements, has been debated in the literature with several prior authors reporting contradictory findings. We report the peroxide value (PV), para-anisidine value (p-AV) and total oxidation values (TOTOX) associated with 72 consumer Ω3 supplements sold in the United States sampled from 2014–2020. The effect of flavoring on the oxidation of the supplements was examined in an adjusted fixed effects model controlling for type of delivery system (enteric, liquid, animal- and vegetable-derived gelatin softgel, spray), source (algae, calamari, fish, krill, mussels), and certifications assigned by third-party organizations (e.g. USP). Overall, our results revealed that 68% (23/34) of flavored and 13% (5/38) unflavored consumer Ω3 supplements exceeded the TOTOX upper limit set by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED) voluntary monograph standard of ≤ 26, with 65% (22/34) flavored supplements and 32% (12/38) unflavored supplements failing the PV upper limit of ≤ 5 and 62% (21/34) flavored supplements exceeding the p-AV upper limit of ≤ 20. To our knowledge, no prior authors have modeled the impact of flavoring on oxidative status in 72 marine- and plant-derived Ω3 products sold in the U.S. We present our findings in this context and discuss the clinical implications related to the consumption of oxidized consumer fish oils and their effects on human health.
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