Think of omega-3 supplements as an insurance policy for your heart, brain and eyes, especially if you’re not eating fatty fish twice a week. As with any insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print. In this case it is the Supplement Facts panel on the packaging. There are two important things to look for on the label: (1) the amount of EPA and DHA per daily serving and (2) how much you need to consume to get a full serving.
The number on the front of the package is for all of the fish oil in a serving of that product, including but not limited to the EPA and DHA omega-3s. For the example label you see here, the front of the package may have 1500mg or greater, but the total EPA+DHA omega-3s is 1100mg. That's the number you want to know.
The bottom line? Check the Supplement Facts panel on the packaging to clearly identify the amount of EPA and DHA. Remember – you are looking to consume at least 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA per day.
For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can still add EPA and DHA to your nutrition regimen by choosing algae-based omega-3 supplements. ALA supplements (think flaxseed and chia) will not provide the EPA and DHA your body needs. Learn the differences.