Those of us who ingest fish oil on a regular basis, either through eating servings of fresh fish on a weekly basis or through taking it in capsules, probably assume that all it is created equal. This is just not the case. The fact is that it is derived from certain types of fish can actually be separated into several different types, or grades. These grades vary in the quality and consistency as well as their overall health benefits.

One of the first grades of fish oil and the one that has probably been used in the past most by Americans over the past century is cod liver oil. This is actually considered fairly low grade of it because of the contaminants that it often contains. It often includes high levels of mercury, DDT, and even PCBs and it is not recommended to take cod liver oil in high doses even though it contains 500 mg of long chain omega-3 fatty acids.

The next and currently the most popular grade of fish oil is commonly known as health-food. This is the kind of supplement that you would find in your neighborhood health food store. It is usually of much higher quality than cod liver oil and is often molecularly distilled to help remove contaminants from itself. Often times, you’ll be able to find out exactly what kind of fish was used in harvesting it as well as adding to the increased safety and peace of mind for the consumer buying it. Health-food fish oil will contain a much higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids as well. It is not uncommon that one capsule of health-food will contain as much as 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. It concentrates falls into this category as well and is both extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids and extremely low in harmful contaminants.

Pharmaceutical grade makes up our final grade of fish oil. It is not as easily available as health-food in that the process to create it is extremely expensive resulting in a higher over-the-counter cost as well. Pharmaceutical grade of it is often available only by prescription or directly through a doctor’s office. Because of the highly specialized process used to make pharmaceutical grade, you can rest assured that even the smallest particles of contaminant have been removed in this process. This results in an extremely high-quality fish oil that is approximately 1000 times more pure than the health-food grade fish oil.

As you can see, buying fish oil is not a simple as just grabbing it off the shelf. Time and attention must be paid to the product itself to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality supplement that you can afford. Omega-3 fatty acids can be extremely beneficial to your health, but if you purchase a lower quality product that contains many contaminants, you could just end up doing yourself more harm than good.