There are several reasons that imply Holland & Barrett sell a low quality fish oil. I have contacted Holland & Barrett for information about sourcing and processing of the oil, and I received no reply. From the bottle and their website we can get a very small amount of information, but we can also make some very safe assumptions about the product. All of which point to the oil being poor quality, for the following reasons:
- Synthetic vitamins added (which are not well absorbed/ utilised and do not include co-factors/ metabolites). These are inferior to natural forms.
- Omega-3s are in the ethyl-ester form. This is done to make processing easier, but means they are not absorbed well compared to the natural form (which is triglycerides).
- Very high levels of synthetic vitamin A. This isn’t a problem in isolation, but taking large amounts of vitamin A can harm the liver. If you take other supplements with vitamin A in, or sources of vitamin A like beta-carotene, this may be an issue.
- Very low levels of omega-3 per serving. These omega-3 fats will be poorly absorbed anyway, because they are in the ethyl ester form. To compound this problem, there is very little EPA and DHA compared to other fish oils. The high vitamin A prevents you taking more than the recommended dose too.
- No idea if the sourced fish are farmed or wild, or what waters they are raised in.
- No 3rd part lab tests.
All of this indicates a poor quality fish oil, which offers very little benefit to the body. Sure, it may offer some small benefits, but it is very artificial, heavily processed, and poor quality.
If you want to see how it compares to other fish oils, and what to look out for, have a read of the Fish oil Showdown, which compares a wide range fish oils (including Holland & Barrett). It should help you work out what you should be looking for in a fish oil. It is always a toss up between cost and quality, but there are better options out there.