Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Is fish oil safe?

Dear Dr. Walt,

Is fish oil safe? I’ve heard it can be contaminated with mercury and PCBs. True?

—Oil Imbiber in Oregon

Dear Fish Fat Feeder,

I asked my friends at to help me with your question. They tell me that their independent tests of fish oil supplements “have found none to contain mercury and most, although not all, have only trace levels of PCBs (which can’t be fully avoided since PCBs are found in water everywhere).”

They add, “A serving of fish meat is likely to contain far more contamination than a fish oil supplement. However, we have found some supplements to contain less fish oil than listed and some to be spoiled.

In addition, the enteric coatings on some supplements have not worked properly.” So you may want to use a supplement that has been tested by them.

Clinical studies have shown fish oil to be safe, but it is recommended that you get no more than 3 grams (3,000 mg) of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) from fish oil supplements per day.

Fish oil has Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status in the US, but people should only take high-dose fish oil while under medical supervision.

Dr. Walt

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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