The findings, perhaps of no surprise to supplement manufacturers, could encourage consumers concerned by a recent negative press on farmed fish to turn to supplements instead.
A study, published two months ago in the widely read journal Science, showed that farmed salmon contained higher levels of pollutants, including pesticides and cancer-causing PCBs, than wild salmon.
The new research, launched by The Globe and Mail and CTV News to find out whether the supplement alternative was a healthier option, tested products from a dozen manufacturers and found 'surprising' results.
"Not only do the capsules contain the beneficial fatty acids in high concentrations, but they are also cleaner than the fish they came from," notes the CTV online report.
The tests were conducted by Ontario-based NutraSource Diagnostics and British Columbia-based AXYS Analytical Services.AXYS is the same laboratory that tested PCB levels in farmed salmon for the Science report, according to CTV.
The report points out that the companies' own tests showed their products to contain well below 1 nanogram per gram of PCBs, which means a person would need to take more than 300 fish oil capsules to be exposed to the amount of PCBs in a single serving of farmed salmon.
Fish oil capsules also contain about 30 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in a serving of fish, suggest further tests done by the media agencies.
Sales of fish oil supplements are already growing rapidly, jumping around 58 per cent in 2003, said the report. This has been boosted by research linking intake of omega-3 fatty acids to reduced risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. Yesterday we reported on UK research showing that cod liver oil can slow the destruction of joint cartilage in patients with osteoarthritis.
Health Canada recommends daily consumption of 1.4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, or two servings of oily fish a week, although some believe this could be a conservative estimate of our requirements.