More and more people are buying fish-oil capsules to help reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes. They're reportedly the most popular supplement after multi-vitamins.
Consumer Reports just tested more than a dozen to see if they contain what they promise and are contaminant-free.
As many people do, Dawn Keegan Silverstein takes fish-oil capsules every day.
Silverstein says, "Fish-oil supplements are omega-3s, and those are important for your heart health."
Consumer Reports tested 15 top-selling brands purchased in the New York metropolitan area.
Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports says, "All did have the amount of omega-3 fatty acids promised on the label. And the levels of dioxin-like PCBs and other contaminants were below the limits set by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia."
But with four brands, at least one sample had total PCB levels in amounts that could require warning labels under a strict California law.
And Consumer Reports tests found other problems.
All three samples tested of Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega indicated possible spoilage.
And with Kirkland Signature's enteric-coated capsules, the coating didn't disintegrate properly. That can give a fishy aftertaste.
However, Consumer Reports did find nine brands that met all the quality standards.
Of those the least expensive is Walmart's Spring Valley brand. The recommended dose costs just 17 cents a day.
"Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. But most people can get enough by eating fatty fish at least twice a week," said Dr. Santa.
That includes salmon, as well as sardines.
Consumer Reports does have a caution. Fish-oil supplements can interact with certain prescription drugs, including blood-pressure medicine, so check with your doctor first.